Monday, 15 March 2010

Giulio Ghirardi

Twenty something Giulio Ghirardi is a student at The University of Parma who currently divides his time between studying for a degree in Architecture and being an amateur photographer. Having been commissioned by magazines such as Pig, Magnificent, Italian Vice and Iris Giulio also documents his own life through an ongoing series of sun-drenched portraits of friends, buildings and the wonders of natural selection. Interview here and at Sweet and Sound.

-How were you introduced to photography, what kept you interested in it?

I was introduced by my father to photography. Since he was young he liked to take photos, in particular architectural photography and portraits. I like them very much! He left me a lot of cameras (best one is a full accessorized pentax lx that he re-bought after having lost the first one on the stepway of montmartre in paris and tought me the importance of having an artistic vein to feel lucky in my life and to appreciate its beauty. My first film I did was in 2002, I was 15 while I was travelling around the state of N.Y. with my family. I consider it my first approach to photography. I kept the camera with me all journey long and I shot a lot. One of those photos was taken in Niagara Falls photo and me and lot of people consider it my greatest pic.

-Do you have a background in fashion, what do you prefer about that style of photography?

I really like fashion but in particular the art connected with it. All the people surrounding fashion for me are more interesting than fashion itself.

I like that glamorous and hype atmosphere, the scenographic scenarios, that only a fashion shooting can create but for me is very important also that fashion "stories" seem very natural, like a personal project. I prefer natural light and poses, everyday situations mashed with a touch of nice styling instead of a studio shooting with calibrate lights and unnatural poses. I find it very repetitive and even if you can add some external element in the background and simulate something, the result for me is every time boring.

I like photographers like Nacho Alegre, Jonathan Leder and Skye Parrot and for extension Ryan McGinley and Teller. They can develop a fashion story or advertising very well but they don't suffocate the client of their picture with something too exaggerated and even if they use some escamotages, they seem to remain quite natural and they emanate this sense of tranquillity, beauty and ingenuity that I'm searching for in my projects.

-You often get commissions from magazines, are you given quite a lot of artistic freedom with these or is it more predetermined?

Yes, sometimes they pick me up for a fashion shoots like they did for Vice Italy and Pig Magazine. They inform me just about the general theme of the issue I have to work with, but I felt lucky cause they gave me liberty of expression without any predetermined scheme.

I like working with magazines ‘cause I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to photography. I'm studying architecture and it’s very useful when someone asks you to work, organizing all the logistics that waste a lot of time. I need just to work on an already chosen time and place and models. Then I put my personal interpretation of the situation with my choices of the camera, light and gestures.

-Female figures are a recurring theme of your work; would you say the human shape is an influence for you?

Yes, it is. I started my "photographic approach" shooting landscapes, buildings and little and particular things in everyday life but I suddenly recognized that they seem like dead photos. I started to appreciate the human figure while I was taking photos and I had the fortune to find very nice friends to portrait when I started to take that type of pic. I like to take portraits of female subjects ‘cause I find them more attractive then common people chosen "from the street". I think models or nice people in general can improve a photo very much.

-Your holiday pictures and commissioned pieces seem to go hand in hand, giving the impression that you're constantly taking photos - do you always have a camera with you?

It depends, there were weeks when I used to have my compact camera with me everyday and others when I don't. But now I want to plan my projects better so I feel having my camera with me everyday isn’t useful cause I risk to take an excess of unfocused and unthoughtful photos.

-You also experiment with collages and drawings as well, do you turn to these mediums when photography can't get across what you want or is it something that you go with when the mood takes you?

I make collages and drawing cause it's a way to create an imaginary world that in nature doesn't exist. Usually I create when my inspiration for taking photos comes less or when I'm at home and I'm inspired. It’s one of the two artistic expressions that I like and remain to me.

-What are you planning to do with rest of the year, is it easy to find work in Italy?

First of all I'd like to finish university ‘cause photography, for me, can be just a passionate hobby for the moment. When I finish university I'll have much more time to plan and concretize my projects that for the moment remain just virtual ideas. As a second step I'd like to enter in a photographic agency ‘cause I hate planning shoots and public relations. I need to candidate myself in every time: sending emails with my cv and portfolios and I'd like to have someone to do that. I live for the moment in a small city and it’s difficult for me to meet people interested in my work and real artists. I'd like to live in a big city and meet real artistic scenes, curious figures that can improve you with their knowledge and to give you the incentive to work more. I think an artistic surrounding can influence you very much and I hope to move one day in a big city for that reason.

Giulio Ghiradi can be found online at, tumblr, carbonmade and flickr

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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Balam Acab

Balam Acab is the moniker of Ithaca University Student and Pennsylvania resident Alec Koone. With BA he creates haunting and frozen downtempto drones that seem to almost cough up melodies onto a sludge of looped synths and echoed drums.

A recent signing to the XXFG affliate, Tri Angle Records (o0o00, Creep) - Alec granted me his first ever interview about Balam Acab for both here and UK Arts and Music Magazine Sweet & Sound.

-You started BA almost two years ago, has it undergone a kind of reboot lately?

Yeah Balam Acab started out two years ago when I was really into drone and back then I was making pretty noisy drone music under the name. I tried reviving it again once in between now and then as a less noisy and more spacey type of drone project but then that fell through too. Now I have "rebooted" the project, so to speak, after creating a few songs and needing to put the songs under some project. So I decided to use this one because I like the name.

-Were you in other bands before or is this your first?

I've been in all sorts of bands and I've made a bunch solo music before the reincarnated Balam Acab. Lots of ambient and post-rock music, some noise, some folk, some rock (in the vein of bands like Pavement). Currently I have another active project called Etherea that I'm pretty into as well. It's hip-hop.

-All your songs use pitchshifted vocals in a really hypnotic way, who does the vocal parts for BA?

My dream girl. She's quite the diva.

-How do you approach recording? Do you work with samples and computers or is it a mix between that & home recordings?

I work with samples and computers. Just cuttin' stuff up and whatnot.

-Do you have any intentions of ever playing live with BA?

I'd like playing live with Balam Acab, just as of right now I'm not really sure how I'd play a good set that was fun for me and the audience. If I can figure that out then I'd love to. But I don't wanna just play mp3's through a PA system, ya know?

-I'm always interested in the environment and surroundings that artists live in, how does Pennsylvania suit you?

My immediate response would be that the PA (more specifically Harrisburg area) music scene is awful, but being away from it (I go to school in Ithaca, NY) has made me realize that although it was small there was a pretty decent and tight-knit music scene from around the area. And this is because I feel like I haven't experienced or been made aware of anything similar in Ithaca. The music scene in Harrisburg is mostly centralized around a non-profit organization called Moviate that hosts killer shows, be it music, film, or whatever else. I feel like there are a lot of good people and bands involved with the Harrisburg-area scene that work diligently together to create a nice little music scene in an environment that, in general, isn't very receptive to arts and especially more experimental and independent art.

Now in regards to PA physically, I'd say its pretty nice in the area I live. Of course, the suburban sprawl and whatnot isn't, but once you can get outside that, there's lots of nice outdoor places that are good to be in.

-What are your plans for the rest of 2010? Any physical releases/other projects?

I've got some plans for 2010. The most important thing is getting a live set together, I think. I really want and need to start playing shows as soon as possible. I'm also planning to release an EP through Tri Angle Records sometime in 2010. I'm currently working on brand new songs for that release. I have another project called ETHEREA but that is sort of on the back burner now compared to Balam.

Balam Acab can be found online at

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