Explore photographs of world-famous bands such as Oasis, Leonard Cohen, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Thom Yorke, Travis, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beirut, Editors, PJ Harvey taken by international music photographers.
The indieBerlin THE PHOTOS exhibition
18. February – 31. March 2017.
Stralauer Allee 3
EXHIBITION OPENING: 18 February 2017 from 7 p.m.
Interview with Michael Spencer Jones and Mia Morris
We talked to the British music photographer Michael Spencer Jones, who took photos of Leonard Cohen, Oasis, Tom Jones, Richard Ashcroft and many more, and is most famous for his fantastic Oasis, Suede and The Verve Oalbum covers. We also had the chance to speak to Berlin based music photographer Mia Morris who took wonderful concert photos of musicians such as Travis, Massive Attack and Bryan Adams.
What makes taking photos of musicians so fascinating to you?
MSP: I think musicians are amongst the most interesting bunch of people. If you look back on the twentieth century, the people that stand out other than political leaders are musicians; John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan etc., the list goes on.
Mia Morris: For me it’s always impressive to get a glimpse at how people turn their inside out. When musicians show their soul and passion and express their feelings through music. This touches me and when I can capture some of this in an image, it makes me happy.
In which way are music and photography similar to each other?
MSP: The point is they’re not. They deal with different senses although they are connected. Music can‘t represent itself other than in the musical form, so it needs photography as a point of reference. You can’t touch or see music so that’s where photography comes in. If you’re talking about album covers then they become inextricably linked to the music. It’s impossible to think of the album Abbey Road by the Beatles without first thinking of the Beatles crossing the road on a zebra crossing. That album wouldn’t be the same without that cover image to go with it.
Mia Morris: Yes I agree, I think they’re not similar but they complement each other perfectly. And, as a photographer you share what you see, what you focus on and what you feel subjectively comes across in the music or in a concert.
Do you think they inspire each other?
MSP: Yes and no; only in the respect that all art forms in some way influence one another.
Mia Morris: I think musicians and music can be a strong influence for photography and of course depending on which photos of a musician are shown, the image of the artist might be influenced. And also musicians write songs about images in their heads, so there you go.
Which musicians did you take photos of?
MSP: Leonard Cohen, Oasis, The Verve.
Mia Morris: Massive Attack, Bryan Adams, Hundreds, Travis, Savages, THE/DAS, Aurora
Do you remember a special photo shooting or concert you would like to tell us about?
MSP: Yes, the cover shot to the Oasis song Wonderwall. Noel had wanted a picture of a woman photographed within a picture frame. My initial feeling was that it may look a bit twee. So a plan was hatched without Noel’s knowledge whereby Liam would appear on the sleeve. Needless to say Liam was in on the plan. The following day we set up shot on Primrose Hill, in London, close to the road, so as to give the best overall view of the park. Owen Morris, Oasis’ producer, obligingly holding the picture frame whilst Liam posed. After a few minutes a black cab that was passing, screeched to a halt and a guy started screaming at us through the cab window. He then got out of the cab still ranting and I began to think ‘Oh God who is this nutter?’ When I turned round I was absolutely dumbfounded to see that the man who had jumped out of the London cab was none other than Noel Gallagher himself who had accidentally stumbled across us on his way to Creation Records.
The conversation went as follows:
“What the fuck are you doing?” was the first question. “We’re shooting the Wonderwall cover” came the reply, “What the fuck is our kid doing here!” came the second question. “He’s appearing on the sleeve” came the second reply. “Our kid on the fucking cover of Wonderwall!” came the incredulous and rhetorical response. “Yes, is that a problem?” – “Is that a fucking problem!” came another incredulous reply. “ Wonderwall is a fucking love song! It’s about a girl! I should know, I fucking wrote it! There’s no way our kid is appearing on the cover, you’re all wasting your time!” and with that Noel returned to his waiting black cab and continued on with his journey. It’s fair to say that this did rather put the dampeners on things and so the shoot was quickly aborted.
I did however return following day without Liam but with a girl from Creation Records and did the shoot on black and white infra-red film which is what ended up on the sleeve.
Mia Morris: As I’ve mostly shot on live concerts I can’t tell you something like that – even though I think the story is hilarious!
For me – I remember the first time I was being let into the press / photo pit. The security guy said to me “First three photos, no flash” and I stupidly replied “And after that with a flash” the minute I’ve said it I knew what he had meant – he just thought I was being a smart ass trying to be funny – but I rather let him believe this then admit how naïve and silly I was.
What music do you listen to in your private life?
MSP: The list is endless. They say there are only two types of music; good and bad. I have a broad eclectic taste so everything from Beethoven, Chopin to the Beatles, Louis Jordan, The Doors, Sandi Shaw, Kraftwerk, Massive Attack, Snoop Dog. The other night I was listening to some old vinyl records of Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald. My artist of the moment however is Lou Doillon a French singer songwriter who is a brilliant emerging talent.
Mia Morris: I used to have phases of musical styles, like you do when you’re young, a hip hop phase, grunge, electro were my main crazes. Now I listen to indie rock and pop mainly, but I still like very different songs.
When I’m working on the computer and I need to concentrate I listen to silly Italo PopHits.
Many thanks for the interview!