Monochrome Stories: An Interview with Dave Clarke

At Lomography, we love it when artists explore their creativity by experimenting with different media to express themselves — especially when they do something completely different to what they’re known for.

We’re pleased to showcase the work of Dave Clarke, a DJ & Producer with a punky flair that’s left a striking impression on the techno world since he exploded onto the scene 20 years ago.

Last year, he released his new album called The Desecration of the Desire. Critics and electronic music lovers worldwide instantly fell in love with its noir atmosphere and intriguing vocals. While continuing to tour and dj, alternating between big festivals and intimate clubs, and host his weekly radio show White Noise, he also takes sometimes off to explore photography.

We sent him a Lomo’Instant Automat Glass so that he could experiment with instant photography. Let’s take a look at his pictures and get to know him a bit better.

Hello! We’ve heard that you’ve become passionate about photography. Could you tell us about your relationship with photography?

It started when I was a child, my father was passionate about photography, but more the process than the subject in retrospect, he was a big fan of Minolta (he was also a big fan of high quality hi-fi) and would always be looking for the next thing. He got me into it as a youngster and lent me his old Minolta SLR and I could borrow lenses too, only trouble was I could not afford to develop the photo’s very often, so I didn’t do very much with it, but it certainly sparked something within me.

It is now apparent that my father was quite responsible for providing me some possibilities for a creative outlet in both audio and visual in my adult life, that realisation was only fully apparent in the last few years.

I then realised that for some reason a lot of my friends were either into photography or actual professionals, it must be something in their mind that I can appreciate, the single mindedness perhaps……

I was always interested in what they did, some had large format Hasselblad’s, others Nikon’s…. Then digi took over, at that point it sneaked back into my life.
Recently though I wanted to make the jump, it is tough with my main work not leaving much time or even energy to do other things, but I felt I want to go forward with this, being in Amsterdam for 10 years also helped esp having FOAM here and some great galleries. I discovered my taste and now I feel it is time to start developing my own flavour.

Is this something that has gone hand in hand with your work for your new album, or more generally related to a period of greater self-reflection?

Speaking to friends who take photo’s, being told I have an eye for light and framing gave me some confidence, learning what I appreciate. Actually being a subject in front of some great photographers over the years like Rankin too, watching them work. Speaking with Marilyn Clark has always been inspirational.

It is completely different from my work on the album. Perhaps for one project (if good enough) I will combine both approaches, but for now I have so much to learn.

What does photography represent to you?

It is a way of making sense of the world, a shadow can really excite me, or an aspect, light entrances me. I’m not into taking portraits, but landscapes yes, and they normally have to be quite harsh, either urban or nature.

I love B&W, always did,and I think I figured out why it had such a personal appeal after Platon explained himself in a recent documentary, that description also felt applicable to me.

What inspires you?

Generally, music of course, light, smell, my senses always seem to be in overdrive actually, I seem to be lucky that food or light can make me tear up on occasion. Music will always be there for me, that was there during my time in HK when taking shots.

Could you please tell us about this series of photos and the story behind them?

Three little series… one is ancient monsters and guardians, the other boats and animals just living their lives, little fast holiday snaps.

How was the experience of shooting with an instant camera?

Actually a bit tricky. I like commitment to doing something, so in that way analog is natural probably due to the times I grew up in, but the camera has it’s own limitations, that I found tricky. I like to influence “character” in my music and shape that character, but here that is done for you… I probably needed more time with it.

Why do you think that nowadays more and more people are getting hooked on this medium?

In Amsterdam polaroid guys are everywhere, everybody has a smartphone but no-one has much time to look at them and do something with the photo's and get them out of the phone onto the fridge or in a book.

So Instant cameras do that for you, the commitment to the moment is there. If the photo is good you will place it somewhere when you get home, no more decisions.

When djing, it seems you are very instinctive. Is the same also in photography? What are the similarities or the differences between your photography style and your musical style?

It will take me a long time to get to that stage with my Leica, I’m fumbling through right now, you do need those 10k hours I think before instinct really takes over. The seeing something/ the right angle is quite easy as I have been using my senses since birth, but to get to learn technique and then make it seem transparent, that takes the time. I may do a few brief workshops, but considering I taught myself how to produce and all the technicalities involved in music I hope to then just move forward. I never really like to describe in detail my musical style, I prefer for others to have their own spin, as for a comparison between Music and Photography… well that is toooo soon.

What is the key element of your music, consistent throughout all of your career?

What advice would you give to yourself 20 years ago?

Not too much actually, hindsight is wonderful but you cannot timetravel it backwards… but I would say "be careful with your loyalty".

Let´s talk about your creative process. What is it that sets your musical creativity in motion?
Does the relationship with your public have an influence on it, or is it more of an individualistic process?

Public no, I make music for me, if I did music by commercial construction like Tech-House or EDM then that is important to think about the public as it is a product not art. I am not a fan of starting up tracks, but when I get to a point then I get really excited, my fav part is mixing and the mix down, that to me is poetry.

For your latest album, you collaborated with different artists. How are these collaborations important for you? And how does a collaboration start? From coincidence, friendship, admiration? Or is a more complex process, involving different partners?

Collabs should only start from admiration, friendship can come later but that is not what collabs should be based on. It was very important to me, the people I worked with inspired me also when working with them, their contribution to my album was vital to my vision of the whole project.

2017 should have been a very important year for you. Which are your professional goals for the next future?

So many things finally made sense around October 2017 that is has left me space to think carefully where to go forward, right now I am clearing my mind and taking my time to decide…photography will be an important part of this though.

Want to know more? Check out Dave Clarke's website, Facebook and Instagram account.

2018-03-02 #gear #people

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