Getting started in the music business is never easy. After hard work and pure talent, image is everything. Read the story of Alex Clapworthy and the label he runs with Matt Chlebek, their inspiration to get started and why they decided that analogue photography (and the Lomo LC-A+) was the best way to achieve the unique, original and sexy image they needed.
I first heard Dark Sky in a dimly lit production studio we’d travelled an hour to reach. As I cast my eye across the rows of blinking lights illuminating the studio’s dials and controls, I heard the opening ambience of Dark Sky’s first demo. The bass kicked in, electronic cymbals clicking against a 2step beat and Matt and I were hooked. We had to release this record. At that moment Pictures Music was born.
Why pictures music? I have no idea; it’s a beautiful word, the pictures we look back on, pictures our grandparents watched, galleries, imagery, photographs. Pictures Music, record label and photoblog I was talking to a painter about how the word rolls off the tongue, she kept repeating it over and over. “Try it: pictures, pictures, pictures…" I’m glad she did, the other names we chose were awful.
I told Lomography about our project because of their die hard analogue ethos. It’s so frustrating to watch people shoot digital photograph after digital photograph, each time checking the screen, leaving nothing to chance. Capturing the moment has become the moment; we’ve neglected the quality of the image and lost that chance of the unplanned. Most of us have forgotten the excitement of peeling open an envelope to reveal virgin prints. Only the select few discover artefacts, beautiful or intrusive and moments relived for the first time, holding an image in their hand. When Lomo sent us the LCA+, I was pretty excited and realised we needed a little help; I flicked through my phonebook and called David Richardson.
David shoots on film, exclusively on film and he doesn’t shoot music, he shoots musicians living life. I first met him playing drums with some guys from The Saudis It was a rock and roll nativity at the Macbeth, the night was chaotic. As I stood there in my dressing gown, with a tea towel on my head to complete the shepherd look, this guy approached me. He said something about wanting to shoot the Saudis for a magazine. He said he was the best, he didn’t look it, but he was right. I kept in touch and realising my photographic adventures documented on 120 film through a Holga I’d bought in China weren’t up to scratch for Pictures Music, I called David for help. When we met in London Fields I picked his brain for photographers to feature on the Pictures Music photoblog and he agreed to take press shots for Dark Sky.
The night we assembled for the shoot, Dark Sky were DJing at Trouble Vision in Corsica Studios. The club is nestled under the arches in Elephant and Castle. We met at dusk, deciding to explore the network of concrete structures the area’s brutalist architecture has to offer. David loaded his first film and prepared his gear, off camera flash shoved nonchalantly into a back pocket. The whole experience was relaxed, Dark Sky were at ease and an hour later having shot on three locations, our time was up. They had to leave to prepare their set for the night.
When we returned at midnight, the club was heaving. An ecstatic crowd were moving in unison to Dark Sky’s throbbing bass lines. I know we took some pictures but the rest is quite hazy.
Pictures Music release Dark Sky’s “Frames EP” July 12th 2010.
Written by Alex Clapworthy