Sunday, 17 April 2011

INTERVIEW WITH SARAH MORRISON

The Asteroid # 4 by Sarah wizard Morrison

As your work is strongly connected to music, who were the first artists who inspired you musically and visually ?

I was inundated as a child with 1960's and 70's rock n roll and old blues records that my father listened to. We would sit in front of the record player at night with all the lights turned out and listen to his collection. No distractions just the glowing blue lights from his stereo receiver and the occasional crackle and pop of the vinyl. He hated MTV because he thought it ruined the listeners subjective visual interpretation of the particular song they were listening to. He considered it to be the worst thing to happen to music at that time.. so he encouraged me to create my own visuals to the albums we were listening to. And so I got in the habit of closing my physical eyes and using my minds eye to unfold the sights that went with the sounds I was hearing. It was a great method of exploring my imagination. I did it as little girl and I still do it.

What did you get from their style or perspective?

It made me want to live in the English country side and drive a silver Rolls Royce!

Did you experience any life-changing moment through music?

My dad took me to see Pink Floyd when I was 12. I had never been to a concert before... I was completely overwhelmed with the entire experience, the music, the light show, the huge crowd. I had spent a large part of my childhood listening to their records with the only visual reference being the pictures on the albums (this is before the Internet! haha!) and so to finally see them live and with visuals was life changing for me. My dad asked me what I thought after the show and I was speechless, literally. I think we rented Ken Russel's "Tommy" the next day. That was also mind blowing for me as a child, as a matter of fact, it still is! Especially the first half! I was lucky to see it again last Summer in the theater. The sound track has been digitally re-mastered and they screened it in Hollywood close to where I live. Ken Russel was there and there was a Q&A with him after the screening. I was totally blown away seeing it in the theater the way it was meant to be seen and heard. It was like a different film! Amazing!

What kind of music were you into as a teenager and have your tastes radically changed since then?

My musical tastes have stayed the same over the years for the most part, but as an adult I listen to more psychedelic, progressive and folk music than I did growing up. As a pre-teen I was really in love with the Beatles and the Stones. In my early teens I became obsessed with The WHO. From there I explored bands like The Doors, The Kinks, and The Zombies. My mother was a huge Led Zeppelin/Jimi Hendrix fan so before I had my driver's license I would listen to a lot of that when she drove me around. I did have a short lived heavy metal phase which somehow led me back to the 70's where I discovered Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, 70's punk and GLAM!

Who are your current favorite artists?

Damien Youth, The Asteroid #4, The Dolly Rocker Movement and Spindrift.

When did your interest in photography begin?

I guess it began in High School. I took a photography class and thought it was fun but frustrating too. It was a challenge for me to develop my own negatives and make prints but I grew to love the process. I used to doodle in my notebooks, faces of pretty girls mostly.. I was never talented at drawing though, so it was nice to be able to capture the pretty girls faces with my camera!

What about films? Would you ever consider directing a video or a documentary? Or have you done that already?

Yes, actually I am very interested in making moving pictures. I want to make short films, music videos and documentaries actually! all of the above! I am just venturing into that medium presently in fact.

Have any directors inspired you as much as photographers and music artists? If so, which ones?

YES! Kubrick, Fellini, Ken Russel, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Věra Chytilova, David Lynch, Polanski, Hitchcock to name a few..

Who are your favorite photographers and what have you learned from them?

Tim Walker is probably my favorite current photographer! His use of props, color, imagination and his scaling are incredible!

Is literature also a source of inspiration? It can be.. If so, how? does it stimulate your imagination?

I'm especially inspired by classic fairy tales, science fiction, mythology, and romantic poetry. Stories of mysticism, lost love, altered realities, alternative worlds, outer space, parallel dimensions, and the unknown are themes that inspire me.

What artists would you most like to work with, in fashion, music or art in general and why?

I love collaborating with other artists of all kinds. In fact, I've just started a brand new photographer collective with some friends of mine. We call ourselves Theiamatic Society and currently we number around 21 girls throughout North America, we give ourselves monthly themes and post our photographs on our blog. The purpose was to create an online photographic community, one where we can have fun shooting subject matter that we normally might not have considered shooting. Our next theme is "Crime Scenes"! Making art collectively is often more rewarding for me because it offers a chance to inspire each other. It's so interesting to have 1 theme and see the result of your peers interpretation of that theme.

Have you ever had to shoot in odd or uncomfortable circumstances?

Yes, I recently shot a band in the Pacific Northwest. I was in mud up to my ankles and then it started hailing! Not ideal circumstances. The guys were miserable too.. but the photos came out cool!

On the contrary, do you have some very special memories of a session that was the best ever?

Yes, some of my favorite photos are from the series I took of Damien Youth last Summer. I traveled to a tiny coal mining town in Pennsylvania and stayed at a century old hotel that happens to be haunted, called The Grand Midway Hotel. They have an annual Jack Kerouac Festival each August where artists and musicians gather. Damien was performing at the festival and I had the opportunity to capture him in this decrepit, taxidermy rich haunted hotel in the middle of nowhere.

Is there a specific pattern in your creative process? Is everything set according to the person in focus or do you sort of go with the flow?

It varies. Sometimes I will get very specific pictures in my mind and until I find a way to capture them, they haunt me. I have about a dozen very specific images in my head right now that I need to shoot. Some have been with me for over a year and they will pop into my head at random moments, almost as if they are saying, "Hey! what about me? when do I get to be shot?" Other times I'll have a general idea or concept and the elements needed and I'll just start shooting, spontaneity is best in those instances because I find that the magic can't be forced. Being open minded and fluid is key, sometimes I will ask my crew if there is anything I'm forgetting or missed and they will give suggestions! That's sort of how the shoot I did with Don Bolles (The Germs) went. That shoot was entirely spontaneous!

You have the magical skill of magnifying people, for instance turning a pale model into a kind of Shakespearean character. Is there a message or motto behind that wizard eye of yours?

I just do what I feel, but more than anything I want to make interesting pictures. I'm easily bored and if an image doesn't capture my attention immediately I'm onto the next thing. I figure a lot of people are the same as me. Making an interesting picture is always more important than making a pretty picture. As far as a message or a motto, that's up to the viewer to interpret.

What album covers have you done?

I've shot album covers for many bands and solo artists, nothing that you'll find at Walmart or on the top 40, not yet anyway.

What is your favorite album cover of all time?

I'm a huge fan of Hipgnosis album cover art.Klaus Voormann's cover for The Beatles, "Revolver" is a favorite of mine too.

My last question to finish this interview, do you have a favorite album ever (or a bunch of them). If so, which one(s)?

Oh my goodness, what a question! Well, my favorites are always changing but I can say that a few that remain consistent are, The Zombies "Odyssey & Oracle", The Bee Gees "1st", David Bowie "Hunky Dory" & "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars", "The Velvet Underground & Nico" (1967) T-REX "Slider", Pink Floyd, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", Kevin Ayers, "Joy of a Toy", The Pretty Things, "Parachute", Iggy Pop "Raw Power", Mark Fry "Dreaming With Alice" and I've pretty much worn out my Donovan collection as well... oh, and I mustn't forget Damien Youth's classic psych folk album "Sunfield". I could go on.. but I think that would defeat the purpose of the question!


http://www.sarahmorrisonphotography.com


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