Let us introduce you to our very own Finnish electronic music guru and new LomoAmigo Obi Blanche! While playing a gig at the Lomography Gallery Store Berlin, Obi got infected with the magical Lomo virus and ever since, he's hanging around the store, trying out new films, and showing us his latest Diana Mini or LC-A shots. We are happy to show you unpublished photos from the series GIRLS, and other behind the scenes pictures from different assignments. GIRLS will soon be exhibited at the store with mostly pictures not shown in this interview. Those we save as a surprise for the opening night!
Hey Obi! First of all could you please tell us a bit about you. Where are you from and what do you do for a living?
Hi Natalie! I’m from Lahti Finland, the city of Jimi Tenor and ski-jumping. He’s one of my childhood inspirations. I remember him going around Lahti center with this really trashed shopping cart full of speakers making some weird sounds. He’s always been so cool and done what ever he feels like. He’s created music from minimal electronics to jazzy world music, he photographs, he’s done some fashion shit, and of course movies. I’m inspired by people like this. Even though I don’t follow that much what he does, but you can tell when you see that guy that there’s something there. I’m kinda following that. Doing what I feel like and living hand to mouth from different projects that I’m doing. Mostly it’s been music related, but actually just got paid from a photo shoot, so times are changing.
How did you become a Lomographer? And why is analogue so special for you?
I went to one exhibition opening at the Lomography Gallery Store Berlin and there was this girl working there, and she was like are you Obi Blanche and I was like yeah and then she asked if I’d like to play at the store. So I did this improvised set there and as payment, got a camera and bunch of film. So I said to my friend that hey I have this new film cam, lets make some photos and she was at the same night sending me this great idea of putting her in a box and shooting that. I’ve taken photos for a long time now, but somehow this change to analog made a difference and I started shooting more and doing more projects. I like both analog and digital in pix and music. Whats important is the interface and usability. If its fun to play with Imma use it, but if it sucks ass, like computers and screens and whole life on the interwebs thing, then I’d rather put it aside and call it work that I need to do. What you get with film is little Christmasses many times a month, or so often you take your film to development. I don’t even like X-mas that much as a holiday. It’s too fat and boring and everyone starts to annoy each other. So analogue is special, because it’s better than Christmas.
You’re shooting with a Diana Mini and LC-A+. What do you like about these two beauties?
I love them both and use them all the time. This is my list of cams starting from crappiest quality: Diana Mini, LC-A Russia Day and Minolta Himatic 7s (my new monstermatic 2kg brick). When I shoot digital I use my Canon S95. So with these I’m pretty much covered. With a Diana you can take really experimental lo-fi shots that look almost like paintings already. LC-A is already pretty sharp and the quality is totally different than other cams. It’s an individual, with these rough edges that gives it its personality. It’s also super light to carry, so it’s easy to take with you. I borrowed a LC-Wide a couple of times and took a few shots with that and for band shots it’s amazing! You can easily fit the whole band in the pic and the pic is nicely warped. Not over the top fish eye effect, rather really subtle nice warp that untrained eye can’t really tell and it just feels like whats wrong with this pic? I don’t care, I like it!
How would you describe your style of shooting? Do you like snapshots or are you someone who thinks more about his subjects?
I’m super straight forward what comes to taking pictures and that possibility is the main reason why I take photos. I love to be fast and get it over with. I’m trying to reach the same point of easiness with my music making. Even if I have planned a photo shoot and a model comes over I just wanna go with the flow and not stress about the shoot. It’s all about interaction and you can’t really plan that.
What’s your favourite camera / film combo?
At the moment it’s LC-A+ with Lomography colour negative 800 film. Just made pix with portable and professional candle light lightning system and the colours are just amazing! Pictures are sharp and the feeling is what you normally get when there’s candle light. I haven’t actually tried ISO 1600 at all yet. Everyone is saying oh boy don’t go there, but I think I’m going.
Tell us something about the pictures we can see here.
They are mostly from the photo sessions for my series ‘GIRLS’. I started this series with my friend with this ‘girl in a box’ idea and then it evolved to be whole series with plenty of new, unknown girls that I asked to make pics with me.
Who or what inspires you visually and musically?
Visually I’m inspired by people. All shapes and sizes, I love chubby girls. There’s not enough chubby girls around. Girls are so concerned by size that they barely eat and then they love that tight clothes hang on them. It’s a pity. Eat, move and be happy. Fuck first world problems. Like Katt Williams said it: “I’m just here to remind niggas that life is short. You gotta enjoy your motherfucking life! Stop being ungratefull all the goddamn time. You gotta be happy bout your motherfucking life.”
What comes down to photographers and names I have my Tumblr and I have a look at it now and then, and get many times overwhelmed by the quantity. I don’t follow any photographers particularly, but enjoy photos when I see a good one. World is full of great photographers. Musically I’m inspired by boxes of boom and synths and things that make sounds. Give me one and I’ll make you a song.
If you could take a picture of anything or anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
I have this list of people that I wanna meet in my life. It’s not too long so I can write it down here: John Frusciante and Vincent Gallo. Jamie Hince I already met, so he’s not on the list anymore. We played a showcase shit gig in SXSW with Norman Palm and then after the gig the booker said to me that The Kills was in the audience! I got a bit nervous, but still went up and talked with Jamie. He was nice, but he did the thing that I hate when someone tells that they inspire your playing, he made this funny face and said that he can barely play. Fuck man, you created a style and now you’re acting like you don’t know. Maybe he was also stressed, cos this head honcho from Mute or XL was next to him. He was looking me like a fucking kid. We could have a jam with Frusciante and Gallo and I could also make a pic from them making out. Or not making out, just a little kiss.
What’s the strangest or funniest photographic/ Lomographic encounter that you’ve ever had?
There’s been quite many strange, funny and awkward situations the last 8 months that I’ve been shooting my first exhibition. One of the funniest was this one young girl who was too scared to come alone and bailed. I was waiting on her outside in the rain for 20min. Then she got back to me like a month later saying that she’d like to do the photos and asked if she can take a friend with her. Hipster girl that she is would probs have a pretty pretty friend also I thought and said natürlich. So these girls came to my place and we started shooting and this friend turned out to be the crazy one and she was doing all kinds of mental shit without asking. She was climbing on things, rolling on the floor and even went under the bath tub, where I would barely even look, but she was there stretching her legs with her ass up in the air. We made loads of pix that night and it was great fun!
Last but not least what can we expect from Obi Blanche in 2013? Any recent or upcoming projects?
There’s many things going on now. I’m going to Lisbon end of March for two weeks to skateboard, hopefully surf, take photos, play a couple of impro gigs and hang with my little sis. Straight after that 5th of April is my exhibition ‘GIRLS’ opening at the Lomography Gallery Store Berlin. It’s gonna be great times! Anika and Tepr are djing that night. Tepr is playing some really nasty ghetto shit! I planned first that were gonna do our Nachtshift thing with Anika that night, but then I thought that maybe I need to be free to talk the whole night with people, so now it’s Anika by herself. Shes playing some most forward thinking stuff out there. Hope to do more stuff with Nachtshift later this year.
Later this spring we start playing shows around the world with Anika band and during those trips I’ll take photos and post them to my photo diary obiblanche.tumblr.com. Really excited to play ATP in London this May. It’s curated by Yeah Yeah Yeahs and I’ve been in love with that band since Master EP! When I’ve enough amazing photos for a book, I’d like to do one. Lately I’ve been gathering interest from different artists and magazines to take photos for them. I hope to pursue that also more greatly this year. Love making em photos!
Thanks for the interview Obi!