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Young Professionals to Watch: Gavin Collins, Photographer

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my privellage to present another talented photographer from the streets of the cultural capital city that is Cape Town! May I introduce Mr Gavin Collins: 

The extraordinarily gifted creator of his Pretty Trendy blog, Gavin Collins, began his photographic and creative journey as a simple means of self expression. However, his natural talent and eye for style have captured the interest of many of Cape Town’s creatives. He is a remarkably dynamic individual and definitely one to look out for in the future.  

Dani: In a few words, sum up the essence of you:

Gavin: I’m a funny-looking, care-free kid with big dreams and creative thoughts.

Dani: Where are you from and how did you become involved in photography?

Gavin: I’ve lived in Cape Town my whole life and for as long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures. I was into creative things like drawing and painting at school, and photography was just the next step for me. My friends and I used to spontaneously get dressed up (okay we still do) and mission around town to try get cool shots. I guess it’s just progressed from there.

Dani: If you had to classify your work in one or two sentences it would be…?

Gavin: I am fascinated by contemporary South African pop culture. I photograph things that appeal to me, exploring the aesthetic of simple, everyday things; finding beauty that others may overlook.

I am also interested in fashion and aspire to one day shoot for international fashion magazines.

Dani: Which have been your favourite shoots and why?  

Gavin: My favourite shoot would have to be one of my very first ones. It was a very informal shoot with my friend Daisy on Longbeach in Noordhoek. She had this really cool, old red umbrella and together with stormy clouds and perfect light I really loved the photographs that I was able to make.

Oh and I also had a really fun day shooting some spoof shots of See You Next Wednesday with my friends for the Crazy White Bitches summer sale. It was hilarious because we were trying to be as outrageous as possible, and I think the end product was pretty successful.

Dani: What or whom would you love to photograph if you could choose anything or anyone in the world? Why?

Gavin: I would love to shoot someone like Charlotte Free for a magazine like Dazed & Confused or Wonderland. She is a total bad ass and has such an amazing sense of style (and she’s like stunningly beautiful) and Dazed is such an iconic magazine.

Dani: Where can one find your work?

Gavin: On my blog www.prettytrendy.tumblr.com

Dani: What he failed to mention is that his work has been regularly featured in popular arts magazine One Small Seed (an online and print magazine reknowned for recognising and promoting the work of notable creatives), exhibitions such as the Bodyblocks  exhibition (a playful collection of body photography by upcoming and established photographers hosted by Exposure Gallery at The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock in 2011) and he has a consistantly strong online following.    

 

Dani: What is the greatest lesson life has taught you thus far?

Gavin: I’ve learnt that if you want to be happy in life you need to embrace the challenges you experience with a positive attitude. A positive mentality is one of the greatest tools you can use when trying to achieve your goals. You should never underestimate the power of your mind.

Dani: If you could work with or for any photographer who would it be? And why?

 Gavin: I’d have to say Rankin. He is really just a phenomenal photographer. He co-founded one of my favourite magazines, Dazed and he has recently launched a new magazine, called The Hunger, that consists of entirely his photographs (well, minus one or two). It’s incredible, I can’t think of any other photographer in the world attempting (or even thinking) of doing the same thing.

Gavin has this untamed honesty to his art. He has this gift and curse that he can’t hold anything back. That’s real art. In his pictures, in his write-ups; its all him. It comes across in the emotion of his photographs. He is telling stories with his camera. 

Dani: If someone made a movie of your life, who would play the lead? 

Gavin: Sheesh I have no idea. Well it would have to be a skinny white boy with a bad haircut playing me and it would definitely be a comedy.

Dani: Would you watch it?

Gavin: No. There’s no chance I would watch it because my life is awkward enough already, I don’t need to watch it being screened to an audience.

Dani: When you die you want the world to remember this:

Live hard, have fun and always make sure you wear clean underwear.

Find out more about Gavin Collins by checking out his blog www.prettytrendy.tumblr.com or stalk him on facebook.

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Women in the Music Industry

There is a lot of negative stigma attached to the concept “Women in music.”

Groupies and girlfriends and other sorts of latchers on are now making money out of the musicians apart from bribing them and selling their secrets, through the likes of their own books and reality t.v. shows. This type of involvement of women in the music industry is destructive for those who actually ARE musicians themselves. It is very difficult for women to be taken seriously as musicians and it seems to me that it is a male dominated industry as far as instrumentation is concerned even today. 

This rant was birthed from a friend’s facebook status about the lack of pants worn by Rihanna and Beyonce and Lady Gaga. It made me think about the female role in the music scene. I am very much of the opinion that women have pretty much branded themselves as sex on purpose with sales and marketing in mind. Lets face it, nobody wakes up the morning of their gig and goes

 “I think ill just wear this leotard on stage because all my other clothes are in the wash.” Unlikely.

So my first point is that the lack of clothes is always a premeditated course of action. The ladies weren’t tricked into being half naked. They want to wear no clothes. Its an easy cop-out option to attract people without the talent doing the talking.

Number two: If sexy people want to wear no clothes, go for it. Its their thing. There are millions of ways to look horrendous in outfits that do include pants so I guess its just a case of people pulling off the look they’re going for. Sometimes going for “outrageous freak” works for people ala Lady Gaga and David Bowie. It should be noted though that to dress outlandishly obviously increases the chances of getting it horribly wrong ala Rihana. (I have to include that I am well bias when it comes to Rihana because I really detest her music and Nuno Bettencourt is her guitarist. Well jealous. How terrible is it that amazing musicians are making horrible music because there is more money in bad taste than good taste?!  But that’s for another time.)

 And That’s  the thing about bizarre experimentation: sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
 So the other side of the coin is that society clearly has some blame in this scenario too. Ladies with minimum talent are doing extremely well while basing their carreers on sexiness. Examples of this are endless. Credit to them for actually making money off their rubbish songs though.  (Grumble. Grumble.) You would have to be really stupid not to notice that sex sells. Sad fact. Passing sexiness off as “talent” is a lucritive business strategy.

What is far, far worse than talentless ladies making money off of a sexy image is extraordinarily talented ladies doing the same thing.

Voices like Madonna and Cher really did not have to strip down to make it! But they did (And then some). That bleaks me out more than anything. Say what you will about them, those are two of the most phenominal and dynamic performers in the world. They sing, they act and they are legendary icons.

When is it time to stand back and let your talent do the work and not the botox? I believe in these women. I believe in their ability and clearly they don’t have as much faith in their talent as I do. Nobody wants to see Elton John in spandex or a thong. These women are just as accomplished (and just as old).

 

That is not to say that men don’t also exploit their        sexiness to sell their music. Think of Sebastian Bach (Skidrow) and Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Billy Idol, Mick Jagger, Steve Vai… I can’t recall many iconic images of Iggy Pop in a shirt.  In the music industry you are selling your image, your lifestyle, your music, your person. You are the brand. I actually enjoy the multifaceted nature of it all.

 

Sexiness is a whole lot more than no clothes though. It’s the way people speak. It’s in the way people move. It is also a clever  tool to make oneself more appealing. Ultimately that’s what you’re aiming for I guess, to use whatever you can to get those people in that room to get into your music.  

I have this idea though that all the pimping and promoting can actually undermine the music. Isn’t the real magic of music the fact that it is the music that makes you feel?

 

 

Music can make you cry, make you dance, mourn the loss, share the joy, feel the love, relate, remember, forget, call you to arms, inspire, give hope, bring destruction. It’s the music that causes you to really and truly feel. It amazes me, knocks-me-over every single time musicians do that. Every time a song stirrs up a whirlpool inside you, you are feeling what some  musician has created. New artists, old forgotten songs, live bands or tapes; THAT is the beauty of music.

I seldom put on a record and lie on my bed thinking “if only Led Zeppelin had released a frangrance” or listen to Marlene Dietrich thinking “I’m sure her outfit was so 1940s.”

The branding, the image, the sexiness and the facades all fade with time. The only thing left is the music; The songs we write, the light or darkness that we speak and sing into the world. I don’t see much appeal in leaving your legacy as “that umbrella chick  with no pants.”

Some points to consider:

a) Performers have been rocking that leotard look for CENTURIES! Literally. And theres a reason ballet dancers are all super scarily skinny… Its not a flattering look. 

b) Using sex to sell your music is only a good idea if you know your music is too horrible to sell otherwise or if you are lazy.

c) Umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh is not a real sentence.

 

Lastly, it is an unforgivable thing to lump the likes of Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, Ella, Janis Joplin, Tracy Chapman and hundreds of brilliant female musicians who have revolutionised the world with their amazing gifts in the same basket as Joe from the Real Housewives of Orange County or Jessica Simpson.

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Cockroaches & Rockroaches

“One downside of that kook being wrong about the world ending (again) is that I was looking forward to running into Keith Richards while walking amongst the rubble tomorrow.”

– Jay Andreeff, October 21, commented on What Would Keith Richards Do ‘s fb page (www.whatwouldkeithrichardsdo.net)

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