Category Archives: Pix

LET’S PLAY THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND THE MODEL

I’m glad my last visit to Madrid was so productive, filling an agenda with plenty of activities we don’t usually carry out when I’m visiting.

I’ve already told you about Hopper’s exhibition, and The Wildhearts’ special program at Viva Las Vegas. There were lots of beers and tapas with friends, and nice walks, but I want  to tell you about one of the funniest activities I shared with Agnès, which I’m looking forward to repeating, related to her blog, From Here to Fashion, photography, nice locations and outfits.

The blog cover many aspects regarding fashion, as you can imagine. Trends, designers, models, complements, vintage shops, photographers… topics which imply a research carried out via Internet, paper magazines, and the quest for inspiration in local shops. It’s not so simple as it might seem, and takes its time.

What has this to do with me? Sure you’re wondering, considering I’m not a fashion addict, even though I’m more interested and updated than it seems. For all the fields I’ve mentioned, my sis can handle by herself, but when it comes to show her own outfits, she modeling herself, in order not to deliver identical and boring pictures assisted by the automatic shooting mode, she needs some help.  Most of times, the appointed photographer is Kiko, and even though we know he’d do whatever for her beloved, he’s not into photography, thus, this outfits improvised sessions are quick, and taken in a very standard manner, so he doesn’t get bored or tired.

Imagine when Agnès asked me if I could take some pictures of her, and I accepted right away…she was so happy!

Agnès is a very controlling and organized person in some aspects in her life, as most of us, there are others in which she’s total chaos. I was amazed he way she handles her blog, scheduling posts, listing the outfits she wants to show, analyzing the complements to wear so everything perfectly matches. Quite impressive really!

You know our styles are totally different, I think mine hasn’t really changed in at least 15 years, but for including some items in my looks, such us make up, hairdo, skirts, tighter t-shirts, bags and glasses. That aside, I’m the kinda jeans and rock/film t-shirts with sneakers kinda girl. Perhaps I should ask Agnès to talk about my style more in depth, as far as I know, all the differences omitted, she likes my style as an important part of my personality.

On the other hand, since I met her many years ago, she’s changed her style completely, from top to bottom.  It’s funny to think what she’s gonna wear next time I’m seeing her. Really unexpected.

Let’s get to the point. I took pics of three outfits in two days, and the locations chosen were really nice.

First place was Campo del Moro gardens, which belong to the Royal Palace. A great variety of vegetation and trees , combined with beautiful fountains, and the quietness ruling, make of this place one of the coolest spots in Madrid.

Agnès was wearing a beautiful dress she found at her favorite vintage shop in the city, complemented with sandals and socks (I’m not into this mixture), and a cane bag resembling to the old fishing ones our grandparents used to carry.

I reckon she enjoyed the session lots, as I was shooting bursts, counting for her to move, and trying to make the whole thing more dynamic and interactive. Moreover, I was trying to cover her requirements regardless, and if I had to lay on the pavement to take a good shot of her sandals, even though I was covered with dust and pine stings after, I wouldn’t care less. I was up to everything.

Second session was that very same day after lunch, but unfortunate it was a quick one, due to terrible heat in the afternoon. We went nearby, to Madrid Rio, a project created at the bank of Manzanares river. It’s become a nice area the locals use for leisure activities and chilling out. Trees were planted but unfortunately haven’t grown up enough as to offer shelter from the killing sun.

This time Agnès was wearing a summer black jumpsuit, short, fresh and comfy, remarked by a pair of with platform sole sandals with a bow in white, quite pin up like.

Sun was so rough on us, she had to borrow my sunglasses to avoid much frowning. I was melting and almost blind, so the pictures were a bit lower profile. Sis, my apologies, I was dehydrating!

We were supposed to come back to Thyssen Museum to see the permanent exhibition, but it was such a wonderful morning at the Prado meadow, lying under the trees, enjoying the breeze and the fresh grass, we decided to spend some time simply for out joy and amusement, taking pictures, chatting and observing the people around. It was a blast!

This dress Agnès was wearing is one of my favorites, blue, red and white. Adorable and super easy to combine. In fact, complements chosen to fit were marvelous and mostly in red, which is my favorite color. A red satchel bag, the red Ray-Ban’s, the flat shoes and the red Swatch. Perfect. and the final touch with the golden bracelets.

It is really an interesting experience to take this kind of pictures. I’m not used to people modeling nor posing for me, nor having to capture details of things. I’m more into bands in motion, buildings, street art, and people in natural attitudes, so this is completely new for me, and I love it. Moreover, the fact that the model is my best friend encourages me to get good results, thus I try my best even though I’m not a pro by all means. Still, my condition as amateur doesn’t have to stop me from learning, trying and working hard as long as I can help my sis.

And finally, not only the best reward is seeing my pictures in her blog, which I encourage you to take a look at, and where you’ll find her outfits better explained, but also seeing her pleased and happy. And of course, the end of the sessions followed by a cold beer at one of these classic taverns, so typical in Madrid. Cheers!

Can’t wait for the next session, sis! Thanks for trusting me 🙂

THE NIGHT WE CELEBRATED ROCK N’ ROLL

Tribute and cover bands are starting to become popular in Spain despite the fact of being quite underrated for their condition of playing stuff credited to bands, and the absence of the creative and uniqueness of a self made band.

Nevertheless these bands are quite demanded in Anglo-Saxon  countries for instance, in fact, as for my experience in UK, first bands to earn some wages were those ensuring a set list of cover hits, otherwise you had to guarantee the venues a minimum of X number of tickets to get a ridiculous percentage of the income.

I like tribute bands, especially when trying to emulate and impersonate the original ones. One of the funniest shows I’ve ever witnessed was in New York, September 2008, on a 500 capacity boat named Princess. Rocks Off offer these concert cruises, not only scheduling tribute bands such as Appetite for Destruction, the Guns N’ Roses tribute band I enjoyed, but also original bands such as Lucero, The Bronx or Spacehog. In case you go to Manhattan, I strongly recommend you to check their shows, because some are really worth attending.

This band I’ve mentioned  covered all GN’R album songs, fake Axl, who actually resemble a lot to the original one, also was constantly changing outfits and he even sat on a keyboard and had the guts to play and sing Estranged. It was hilarious yet well played, the band sounded pretty cool, tickets for the show were sold out, and everybody got super pissed and in party mood. Really, a night to remember. I ended up having shots of bourbon with the current Frisco air guitar champ at that time. Guess who!

Chaqueteros Rock (we could translate the name as Rock Turncoats) are a bunch of rock lovers and musicians, who have joined this project to offer a show on a monthly basis featuring a night paying tribute to rock, The Beatles, The Stones, Ramones nights of punk rock, glam rock, sleaze…

All of them have their own lives, responsibilities and families, thus it’s a great effort to manage to rehearse and learn a set list of 15 songs. There are noticeable mistakes and they are not the best musicians you might listen to, still it’s not a pure matter of quality, but just the amusing entertainment, and endless fun provided.

Chaqueteros Rock want the audience to interact, sing and participate of this great party which celebrates the greatness of rock.

Thus, Charly ’90 and his guys offered a crazy Kiss night on Friday, playing Parasite, Detroit Rock City, Love Gun, Lick It Up, I Stole You Love…and Shout It Out Loud. And this is what happened…

Guess you’ve noticed it’s me on backing vocals, yelling and jumping as if there was no tomorrow… Well, this is what happens when I’m given a mic, what can I say? I love it! 😉

*** Thanks Joaquin for this killing pic, I love it!

OMAR RODRIGUEZ LOPEZ, THE GENIUS WITH A BABY FACE

Sure you’ve noticed here my growing interest in The Mars Volta, or better said, Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavala’s universe lately.

Little by little I’m tasting and enjoying their stuff with a positive outcome most times, so now I’m a  a bit frustrated for not having the possibility of witnessing this At The Drive-In reunion, nor The Mars Volta European tour. Fortunately  there’s was a last chance of checking some of this overwhelming genius and virtuosity on stage, as a unique Omar Rodriguez Lopez’s performance was confirmed in Barcelona for July the 11th, just one day before his presence with ATDI at FIB.

Well, I hadn’t listened to a single tune of his solo stuff, asked an expertise on this universe whether attending that show would imply the risk of ending mentally disable or affected irreversibly, and he insisted I should see him, thus there was nothing which could prevent me from going to Music Hall, and purchased two tickets, one  for Lou, half Norma Jean Magazine founder and editor, who came for the show and is staying at the Hellhouse for few days.

After some pre-show drinks with a couple of friends, we arrived to the venue, somehow surprised by the sold-out notice. Fortunately we had our tickets, but my friends couldn’t make it.

And what did we find there? The place was super packed with hipsters especially, rock and metal musical oriented guys, an outstanding musical press presence,  but also people more into electronic stuff. I talked to many acquaintances  afterwards, and those into tock loved Omar’s show, however those looking for something different enjoyed the supporting act better.

Once we made ourselves comfortable and were grabbing a beer, we took notice of the situation and what was going on. On the stage a DJ and an apparent belly dancer, and the music was as Martian as the electronic music at the closing of Primavera Sound at 6 AM. Those electronic sounds and repetitive rhythms full of syncopes and weird effects and noises, to sum up, the kind of music you perhaps could enjoy if high on something.  Eureka The Butcher, Marcel Rodriguez Lopez’s project, couldn’t be more different and further to my musical interests and tastes. It didn’t bother me, but honestly, felt completely out of place. At the end of the show, lots of people were making fun requesting for an encore.

Omar Rodriguez Lopez is just one year older than me, even though he’s got this appearance of eternal youngster. He’s a self made man, or better said, his musical career can speak for himself. Yet, seeing him on stage, the way he greeted the audience in a shy and humble way, made me think of an accessible genius, andi liked it. The way he play, this is, his physical way of playing the guitar dancing and syncopating with his whole body, from head to toe, transmitted a unique groove and good vibes.

I can’t name any single song, and there wasn’t any set list, it was a sequence of jams based on initial songs, everything so amazingly arranged, but  tied up at the same time, the musicians were in a musical journey to land on Earth at some point. Really the songs were highly atmospheric and lysergic, you just had to go with the flow. It was fascinating observing and enjoying listening, it was like abandoning yourself to the sound of music, and believe me, such experience is hard to reach.

The band was formed by Omar, amazing Deantoni Parks on drums, and Juan Alderete on bass guitar, well yes, pure The Mars Volta awesomeness on stage.

Teri Gender Bender, the singer of another side project of Omar, Le Bucherettes, currently supporting The Mars Volta on this European tour, jumped onto stage to perform a couple of songs and I think we all passed through several stages to end up surrendering to her charms and voice. A gorgeous girl, with a powerful voice, a hipster look and her mean face and monkey dances. For 30 seconds I thought she was ridiculous, on the second 31 I was delighted with her.

The trip was so intense and brilliant, Omar didn’t seem to feel like stop playing, and the crowd would have welcome more stuff, but unfortunately the organization addressed the show must come to an end, thus Omar thanked us for being there and left the stage.

Great impressions exchanged among the attendants, I personally impressed by the sound, the quality and Omar himself, and super glad of risking and opening to musical experiments and experiences.

Wish I can make it soon to see any of his projects. Viva Omar, his afro, his babyface  and his huge glasses! What a musical monster!

NEAL CASAL BROUGHT ME RYAN ADAMS & THE CARDINALS TO THE HELLHOUSE

I haven’t talked about live music photography yet, and to be honest, if I had to choose a field to develop my poor skills in, or focus my work onto, live performances and street art would be my main targets.

I find really difficult to capture those intense moments coming from the spontaneity of the band members, the feelings, the passion, and the workspace  is usually terrible. Lights, shades, angles, jacks, annoying mic stands, and even these mobile video units. Now I’m thinking of a picture of Nicke Royale with Imperial State Electric, which could have been awesome but it was completely ruined because of this huge  video mobile arm. It was one of these “Fuck My Life” moments, believe me.

I will refer to outstanding photographers covering this field very soon, but now I’d like to talk about something more special and intimate, Neal Casal achieved through hundreds of pictures, many of them included in his book Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: A View of Other Windows.

This compilation of pictures means trespassing the threshold into the inner world of one of my favorite artists, Ryan Adams, and the band he formed and fronted for approximately 5 years, The Cardinals, which Neal Casal joined in 2005.

Their world, including the writing and recording processes and methods, the band on the road, the relationship among members, the good and bad moments, from happiness to exhaustion, euphoria and solitude, is beautifully reflected here, in a humble way, with no ambitious aspirations but to catch and keep part of their lives and experiences for good.

I’ve always thought Neal Casal is a very emotional artist, with a taste for the beauty in a discrete manner. Whenever I listen to his solo stuff it evokes me some kind of peace. The tandem formed between Neal and Ryan is really complementary, as if the second provided the passion and the guitarist was there to balance and keep things under control.

The fans know by know about Adams’ shyness and mood swings, he’s quite a borderline personality, in my opinion essential to be the genius he is. Casal, seems to be the witness of all his extreme behavior, close enough as not to disturb him either, which hasn’t to be very easy.

The relationship among the members of the band is also interesting. So far, so close, everything changes depending on the circumstances. Being part of a band which spends long time on the road must be rough and strenuous. We have no idea of what two hours show means in terms of effort, work and sacrifice. It’s like a family but implying a responsibility towards a different audience every night, and bread on your table. Your working day doesn’t mean 8h at the office, or the factory, but playing eating, travelling, sleeping…

Adams appreciated the talent of Casal right away, and the covers of Easy Tiger and Follow the Lights Ep are credited to him, together with the albums artwork featuring some of the pictures.

I have to remark another personal issue which makes this book more special, and it’s the fact that there are plenty of pix referring to the European tour in 2007. I was lucky to attend to one of the shows in November 2007, a thrilling and absolutely wonderful night, in which I signed not only a peace agreement with Adams, my filthy hair boy, but also my unconditional love for the rest of my life.

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals split ways in 2009, for many reasons, among others, Adams’ retirement announcement caused by the Ménière’s disease, and later on,  the loss of the bassist Chris Feinstein.

Neal Casal has just released a beautiful album named Sweeten the Distance, keeps on taking pictures which have been published in many established magazines, and nowadays he’s part of Chris Robinson’s Brotherhood. Let’s cross fingers and wait if he manages to let us into this family through his lens.

THE NIGHT I GOT EVEN WITH THE AFGHAN WHIGS

What crazy times I’ve been living the past weeks, I’m still knackered after so many events, live shows, beers and silly nights. Not gonna complain at all, it’s been a blast and I feel grateful to all the partners who have been sharing those moments with me.

It’s Monday, well, past midnight, thus it’s actually Tuesday. Let’s say I’ve been chilling out for a couple of days and my mind is starting so settling down, although it’ll be on the move in a couple of days again. But that’s not relevant now, finally I feel focused enough as to talk about THE show I witnessed last Thursday at Primavera Sound Festival 2012. No, I’m not talking about Wilco, or Refused, not even Mudhoney nor Spiritualized, at last I made it up with The Afghan Whigs, or perhaps I should say their performance was the way I expected it should be back in July 99.

How many times have I refer to this band in this blog in the past months? Not enough considering my state of excitement waiting for this show. Since they were confirmed I knew I was gonna make it to the festival, and as soon as the exact date was confirmed I purchased my ticket.

I already explained here about my disappointment when I saw them in London 13 years ago. I had heard so many wonders related to this band and the lead singer, Greg Dulli,  I felt really frustrated when my expectations weren’t fulfilled. No emotion, no excitement, completely out of place, I couldn’t understand why everybody were praising the Whigs so much, and I wasn’t touched nor impressed, especially in a time when there were many things I was discovering and flipping with.

You know, I quickly forgot about them till someone started to play me the albums again 6 years later, reminding me of the show again, and making me wonder what had happened. Once their visit was confirmed I could only think of relieving of such bitter taste in my mouth.

 After the recent disappointments suffered with the performances of Manic Street Preachers, and Soundgarden, less than a week before, my anxiety and nervousness had increased alarmly. On one hand I was trying to chill out and low my expectations, on the other hand for me was like the last chance of a band I loved to redeem and help me believing in reunions and classic bands.

I was at the festival early in the afternoon so I could meet some people, have some beers, attend a couple of shows, and hurry up to the main stage.

20:40 still daylight, Greg Dulli and the rest of the band come out to the stage, including a huge velvet backdrop. Crime Scene Part One starts, and a couple of tears are rolling by my cheeks immediately. I’m starting moving towards the stage with I’m Her Slave, surprisingly managing to sneak to first rows quite centered very easy, completely on my own. Who cares? I only want to see, feel, sing…

The band sounded pretty solid, Dulli’s voice brilliant, and the elegance The Afghan Whigs spread, noticeable.

I was glad to see most people among the crowd were fans for real, at least everybody  around was singing and getting as excited as I was with every song.

Pity the show only lasted one hour sharp, the set list included songs from Congregation, Black Love, Gentlemen, and 1995, having a place for the new released single See and Don’t See. Whenever a  band responsible for so many awesome tunes elaborates a set list, trying to make the difference from the other tour shows, and intending to surprise the audience and create a special atmosphere, with not much time for the set, the fans will always feel a bit disappointed for not including THOSE hits we consider essential. Thus, I missed Debonair, John The Baptist or Somethin’ Hot, but the show was so powerful, the band was so incredible, and the atmosphere created with the combination of lights and the sunset by the beach, my happiness came from what I had just heard, rather than allowing frustration to ruin the moment.

I finished the show with my friends Toni and Felix, and some other acquaintances, and seeing everybody dancing and jumping in happy and shiny faces with Miles Iz Ded or Into The Floor, and once the show was done everybody hugging each other and shaking hands in approval was a picture I will never forget, because nowadays, this seldom happens, and it’s great enthusiasm was the king of the evening.

Here is the complete performance, hope you like it

After such intensity and emotions to the max, the sense of relief invaded me, and it was time to enjoy the rest of the night more in a party mood. Met some friends, hung around and went to see Mudhoney. I’m not a huge fan, just got one album, but the great company I was in, requested it, so there we were. What am I telling you this? Mmmmm, well, look what happened when I went to the bar to get some beers…

Hell yeah! All of a sudden I find Mr. Dulli on my way and just can’t help but lying on my knees. I was so excited it was hard to focus on what to say, but he was a gentleman, and kindly attended me for 5 minutes. I could tell him, among many other things that I had finally quivered with The Afghan Whigs, and when I explained my previous experience in 1999, not only he agreed but also replied telling me “We’re much better now”. I will never forget his eyes staring at mine, Dulli is not gorgeous, but he’s been said to be a seducer, a super taker. I could never comprehend why until I saw his irresistible glance. And yes, he was so nice! Grabbed my hand, asked my name, and he ok’d the picture…Perfect end for a perfect time. What a blast, holy shit!

Want to see some more of the pictures I took during the show ? Visit my Flickr account

TOI N’ THE STARS – MARK LANEGAN

To be honest I don’t have many pix with celebrities, considering I’ve been quite lucky to manage to approach many. My friend Jaume always makes fun  reckoning  I should write a book, Toi N’ The Stars, when I grow old …truth is that there are some funny stories worth telling.

For long time I was the one responsible for taking pictures with musicians and other public characters, but since I didn’t have to look after anyone but myself, it’s me now the one in front of the camera nowadays.

I can’t find a better way to start this section. Joaquin took this picture last night after the show Mark Lanegan offered in Barcelona.  As you can observe, I was delighted.

FREAK WORLD THROUGH LENS – DIANE ARBUS

Visual impact is more powerful and influential than we think. You know my knowledge on photography is really limited and in fact, it’s nowadays when I’ve decided to research and dig into those characters whose work, at some point, has met my eye.

This is what happens with Diane Arbus’ legacy. I knew her by name, and that she was related to photography, as one of these MUST references, but that was all.

Then I saw these two pictures and I remembered. On one hand The Roselle Twins, as disturbing as Kubrick’s Grady Twins, on the other those kids covered in masks sat on the stairs at the entrance of a building. These two captures really shocked me long time ago (and they still amaze me), but I didn’t relate them to the person behind the camera up to date.

Diane Arbus, was well known for being the photographer of freaks. Perhaps she didn’t like such label, but by all means such fact could be denied: midgets, transvestites, giants, fat and slim people, men completely covered in tattoos, disabled… somehow she deeply respected them, considering they had managed to overcome and come to terms with their born traumas. Thus, she was one of these outlaws, experimenting and capturing the “evil”. You can bet Tod Browning‘s Freaks, the controversial film, was a huge influence for the New Yorker. It’s not very difficult to imagine her career wasn’t a bed of roses. She and her husband had started in the commercial photography business focusing on fashion related jobs, but they never liked the results and critics also reckon their work was far from outstanding.

Perhaps her depressive tendency which eventually dragged her to commit suicide, also had to do with her taste for the dark. Her approach to reality was not suitable for public acceptance, and in order to achieve such disturbing reality in her captures, she didn’t have any problem in establishing boundaries with the subjects to portrait. Can you imagine yoursel dealing with retarded, or schizophrenic people for the sole purpose of taking some pictures? I don’t think so.

Again, it’s the lowest and darkest side of human condition Diane Arbus managed to catch in her shots what definitely attracts, and at the same time, disturbs me. Many characters are excessive and grotesque, yet you don’t see them as ridiculous nor target them as the focusing point for laughs. You just observe, and then react when standing at them.

There’s a film named Fur, featuring Nicole Kidman, inspired in Diane Arbus’ life. To be honest, I just remember some promo related, but since I’m not a great fan of the Australian porcelain skin artist, didn’t pay much attention. Guess soon I’ll have to check whether it’s worth seeing as an unofficial record of her life.

Anyway, in case you want to check more of her selected work, you can visit this site, which offers you a wider perspective of the artist with her beloved freaks.