Interviews

E-WAX


2018
Conducted via shared Google Doc with Eiji Kudo aka E-WAX. Edited by Jack Mahaley.

Jack Mahaley

E-WAX


Can you talk a bit about your childhood? Where did you grow up and when did you get into photography, art and fashion?

I grew up in London for about 8 years and then came back to Japan when I was around 11 or 12 years old. I really wanted to be a football player. I tried hard to be a football player until I was 21 years old. I did a few professional tryouts but it didn't work out, so I then decided to quit football. At that time my mom was hospitalized so my dad and I were taking care of my mom and staying at the hospital everyday. Once you’re at the hospital and spending 24 hours there, it’s really boring and you actually don't have anything to do. So, I started looking around the hospital to find a cute nurse to date, but I still had plenty of time there so I started drawing some shapes and patterns in my mom’s room. Then one day my mom said to me  "Eiji, you should do that more seriously." That's how I started painting. A few months later my mom died with cancer and after all that happened I decided to move to Tokyo to do more art stuff. One day my iPhone suddenly broke and as I’m not good at using computers, I didn't do any of those back up things so I ended up with 0 photos and of course my moms memory too... I was really shocked and just couldn't believe it all could disappear in a second. So I’m really stressed out about digital things. My best friend, Yusuke Abe is a photographer and he gave me a film camera which was a Leica Minilux, so from there I started taking pictures. That was when I was 22 years old.

I’ve read you’ve lived in London during childhood, how did you end up there?

Well, I moved to London when I was 3 years old because of my dad’s work. He is a musician known as K.U.D.O and he was part of the label called Major Force and he worked with U.N.K.L.E (James Lavelle) from Mo' Wax and a lot of other musicians.

You worked at grocerystore Aoyama and have also collaborated with Takahiro Miyashita on various projects, how did you meet Takahiro Miyashita and come to work with him?

I first met Takahiro in London when I was 6 years old. My family, James’ family and Takahiro were eating dinner together. I remember playing with Takahiro at the restaurant. Fifteen years later, before I moved to Tokyo, I had a chance to show my drawings to Takahiro so I brought my drawing book to his apartment and knocked on the door. I remember my hand was shaking because I was 15 and I actually i don’t remember how he looked.After I showed my stuff he said to me "I am gonna open a flagship store so come to Tokyo and be the shop manager.” I was really surprised what he said that and at first I thought it was a joke but he was serious. He did everything for me that allowed me to move to Tokyo-- even finding my apartment.  Through working at grocerystore I worked with Takahiro as a painter too. I made t-shirts with him and some one-off things and did an exhibition there too. It was all very natural. If i didn't meet Takahiro that day I wouldn’t be who I am right now and I wouldn't be here in New York. That 4 years at TheSoloist was everything for me. He taught me a lot of things. It means a lot.

When you Google “E-WAX”, it suggests correcting to “emulsifying wax” instead. Where did the name E-WAX come from?

When I started painting I wanted a cool name that everyone could remember. So E was simply from my name Eiji, and WAX was from Mo' Wax records that my dad worked with.

You currently live in New York City, what’s your morning routine like? Any cafe’s on your commute?

Well, I’m a night guy so I sleep around 5 or 6am in the morning so I actually wake up at 12 or 1pm and make a cup of coffee by myself. Then I get out and go to the coffee shop and get another coffee and stay there for an hour or two. I like staying at the cafe and just looking outside thinking nothing. But I always bring my camera with me so I think I’m looking and waiting for some good situations. That time at the cafe is very important for me, I think.

Your photography is sharp, both in terms of composition and quality but also in terms of your subtle commentary and ability to capture very human moments. What draws you to street photography in NYC?

I think I’m drawn to the "people” (mainly woman),  "things" and "shapes" on the street. Everything is interesting for me. There’s too much to write down but when I look at woman I like seeing their blowing hair, skirt, legs, how they walk, how they sit, cross their legs, etc

Most of your photography is film, what’s your camera of choice?

I mainly use a Nikon FM3A and the sub is Minolta Hi-Matic AF.

Your paintings and designs are often commissioned for garment applications, including TheSoloist and more recently Missoni Man. How do you feel like your work changes once applied to a fabric intended for a garment

I feel really happy about that. I mean, I'm always doing the same thing as usual, making art. It's just a different material.

Any big projects coming up that you’re excited about? Where can people see more of your work?

I recently had a show at Nepenthes NY and another in February. I'm preparing for that.


See more photography and work from E-WAX here: @_e.wax_






Guy Ferguson & Edmund Teh


2018
Upside Studios is an interdisciplinary creative studio and event space based in Fan Tan Alley, Victoria, B.C.

The studio is comprised of artists, designers and cultural enthusiasts with diverse interests and disciplines forming a compelling community creating waves off Vancouver Island.

Jack Mahaley
Edmund Teh

I've been following along with you and Guys' work since the Lower Pandora shop. Where did you two first meet?

We met close to 9 years ago. At the time, Guy was the manager of Four Horsemen and I was a regular customer.

Guy and a couple other friends lived in the Hoy Sun building at the bottom of Pandora Ave in Chinatown. It became a hangout for a large group of us and a hub for a new creative community that was forming in the city. The building was run by Robert Kidd who was one of the original artists that helped revitalize the neighborhood in the 70’s. In many ways we were just trying to carry on his tradition and Upside Studios is still very much an extension of this.

How many people are involved in Upside Studios and what is everyone's specific discipline or role?

There are five partners in Upside Studios, which is divided into two areas— an event space and a shared working space.

Rachel Saunders is our resident ceramicist with her own dedicated studio on the shared working side. With a small staff, she independently operates her pottery business, as well as teaches workshops and private classes.

Agata Atmore runs an online general store called Chill Bay which is a huge supporter of Canadian-made goods and housewares. She utilizes the studio for product and editorial photography, personal shopping, and hosts various events to help support women in business.

Morgan Holmes is our administrative director and runs our music and event programming. He’s our saving grace in terms of operating the studio as a business. He also secretly plays bass and guitar in a band called Amor de Cosmos.


Guy Ferguson is a photographer and works as Brand Director at Viberg. He is responsible for studio related content and organizes regular events usually revolving around movies, basketball and natural wine.

And as for myself, I work out of the space as a freelance product/visual designer. In relation to Upside, I help with the design direction of the studio from event promotion to branding and social media.


How did you guys find the space in Fan Tan Alley? The circular skylight is insane.

Rachel was originally looking for a space to function as a ceramics studio, but the opportunity for something larger with more people involved presented itself.

We were all reaching a point in our lives where we wanted a way to engage with our community and bring something to Victoria that didn’t exist here. We had a lot of encouragement from friends and family, and a particularly motivating suggestion (he called us out) from our mutual friend Amardeep Singh.

Traditional commercial space has become more and more inaccessible in Victoria, but thanks to our prior connections to the Chinatown neighborhood from our Lower Pandora days, we were able to get on a short list for vacancies. It was a long shot, but an opportunity came up fairly quickly and we jumped on it.

Our building dates back to the early 1900’s and was one of the many opium/gambling dens in Chinatown. Most of the spaces were eventually abandoned until owners in the neighborhood had the idea to rent them out affordably to artists like Robert in the 70’s. Our space was occupied by an acclaimed artist and critic named Glenn Howarth for over 20 years and his name still remains on our door.

Oh, and there’s actually two skylights!


How was the turnout for W. David Marx Ametora talk and book signing? Seems like there is a solid men's clothing community in Victoria.

We had a really positive and supportive turnout for the Ametora talk. The event was organized by our friend Ryan, who also works at Viberg, and was just finishing an essay on Japanese fashion. Marx himself is a really passionate and insightful human being. We were super grateful to have him be able to delve into different parts of the book and describe his own experiences in Japan. His knowledge of the history of fashion and culture there is second to none.

It’s true, the men’s clothing community in Victoria is small, but unusually educated and well-informed. This is probably due to the fact that we’re anchored by some really great shops and brands such as Viberg, Four Horsemen, Calculus and re-porter.

What have been some of the most memorable art installations, talks and events at Upside?

Every year, Victoria hosts a small-scale progressive music and arts festival called ‘Pretty Good Not Bad’. We were one of the host venues for a select few artists— Nicolas Sassoon being the most high-profile. He’s shown at galleries such as The Whitney (USA) and Eyebeam, as well as collaborated with Uniqlo. He’s most known for his use of early computer imaging techniques to render incredible digital patterns and projection art.

Other highlights throughout the year have been musical guests— KILLY, Young Braised, and Ken Stringfellow (R.E.M., The Posies).

We’ve had a few accomplished local artists and friends that have presented solo shows as well— Carson Cartierand Jesse Russell-Galbraith are two that come to mind.

Finally, we have played host to numerous pop-up dinners and low-key events with gifted friends and like-minded individuals. These events are usually not promoted, but always have such a positive effect on us and are a constant reminder of what Victoria has to offer.


What are some of your favorite cafes in Victoria?

Coffee--
Habit, Bows x Arrows, Hey Happy

Restaurants-- Uchida (Japanese shokudo), Part & Parcel (casual lunch spot), La Tana (Italian bakery), Fol Epi(organic bakery)

Our friends Matt Chamberlain (formerly of Part & Parcel) and Shane Deveraux (Habit) are in the process of opening a new restaurant/cafe called Sherwood just a couple of blocks from Upside. We’ve been able to sample the menu a couple of times already and can fully vouch for what these guys are doing.


I've noticed a lot of studios and collectives have eventually turned into brands. Any plans to release Upside merch?

We’ve actually recently launched our humble little web shop.

While we’re not actively trying to become a brand, we want to establish an outlet for people to help support Upside and produce things that we enjoy and that resonate with the community. We want our products to be a recognition of what we’re trying to do in Victoria, but ultimately the space and the events are our first priority.


That being said, what is your ideal event or installation at Upside?

I’m really not sure if we can narrow it down to just one dream event, show or installation. What comes to mind is continuing to work on projects with talented friends.

In our first year, we definitely strived to utilize the space to help nurture artists and create a greater sense of community in Victoria. While we will continue to do this, we’re hoping to connect more with our community abroad. We’d love to be able to showcase work from our friends all around the globe that wouldn’t normally have an audience in Victoria.

When can we do a Cafe Nyleta pop-up?

Tomorrow. Or next week? Let’s make it happen.



Special thanks to Guy Ferguson and Edmund Teh.

Upside Studios

@upside.studios






Sirui Ma


2017
Sirui Ma gets the work most internet dudes dream about. Based in NYC, Sirui has photographed lookbooks and editorials for clients from Vogue China to Nepenthes New York and Peir Wu. Our NY-based staff member was originally going to interview Sirui over coffee, but she recently departed to London so we caught up via email instead.

Jack Mahaley
Sirui Ma

I was surprised to find out you're originally from Beijing. At what age did you move to the United States?

I was fifteen and anticipated that my life would overnight become like one of those cliché high school chick flick movies, but it didn’t go that way (thankfully?). I ended up in Forest Hills, Queens. It was a strange time.

How did you end up in NYC?

Both my parents are journalists, and they were sent to different bureaus for work for four years at a time. I went to NYC with my mum when she got assigned there in 2011.

You're currently in London-- are you working on anything in specific or perhaps a vacation?

I actually decided to drop out of university in NYC to restart a BA in photography here. I feel like needed to do this, as it would give me more time and space to develop my work.

When you're not traveling, what's your typical day like? Coffee in the morning?

I make myself a coffee first thing in the morning! If it’s a day off I’d probably meet up with a friend for a nice meal and maybe more coffee. Then walk around somewhere, a park or something.

I first found out about your work through friends of friends' Instagram. I specifically remember some super icy shots of a glass elevator for a Peir Wu collection. Where were those taken?

Those were taken in the Hayden Planetarium in the Museum of Natural History. Kevin rode in that elevator probably about ten times. It was so fun to shoot there because I blended in with all the tourists and their big cameras, so no one knew what we were really doing.

How did you come to photograph most of the Peir Wu's lookbooks?

I had been a fan of Peir’s work for some time. A mutual friend connected us and we’ve been great friends ever since. I think we just really trust and understand each other, so we don’t need to articulate much to make something together.

At some point you were Atsushi Nishijima's assistant, how did you two meet? Sidenote-- I keep all my LOITER mags in their cellophane wrapping.

So do I! Funny story. A friend of mine introduced me to his work, and I decided to message him to see if he needed an intern or assistant. We scheduled to meet a couple months later, at a Le Pain Quotidien near my college, and just chatted. I ended up working for him for about two years until I moved to London. Jima is a great mentor, friend, and inspiration to me.

Multiple people in Portland showed me your recent Nepenthes editorial 'Days Of Candy'. They were fanatic about the clothing and photos, including myself. How did that editorial come to fruition?

I really love that project as well. I spotted the model, Sam, at a party a few months prior and somehow stumbled upon her Instagram so I messaged her to see if she’d like to shoot. Michael [Baquerizo] and I are always bouncing ideas off each other as well, and things just fell into place. I had been meaning to shoot something in midtown because I love how chaotic it always is, and how someone can get away with looking really out of place because of that reason (like wearing fall looks on a really hot day with a whole gang of people following you). Michael styled it with only men’s pieces for the looks, and it was perfect. Dream team.

I copped the Running Water book via Post Post Works right when it came out. The tourist snap style photos were refreshing. Do you have any other print or photo projects coming up?

Thank you so much! I really did feel like a tourist in my home country after having lived abroad for so long… I am working on an iPhone photo booklet composed of mostly Chinatown geriatric looks I’ve spotted over the last two years in NY, which I’m really excited about. I’m also thinking about making another book as a school project here, but it’s still in the development stage.

Any plans on coming to Portland?

I’ve heard so many great things about Portland! Would love to visit at some point. Maybe next summer!

View more of Sirui's work here and follow on instagram @sirui.ma






Hank Richardson


2017
Hank Richardson's newest music project is an echoey, lo-fi, late night drive filled with minimal chants and one rough man. When coupled with Old English ridden album covers by close collaborator and friend, Kyle Pellet, the duo transforms into SPEEDWAY. Hank recently treated me to a Tuesday evening out, so I decided to record most of our night.

Jack Mahaley: Take a right. Come on, you know where you're at.

Hank Richardson: I don't really know Northeast, I grew up Southwest.

JM: So Tuesday's nights you and Kyle typically have the staff meeting right? Who calls who? Like do you shoot him a text first and say 'Hey I'm callin' in..."

HR: I usually call him, it's pretty structured even though it's just a couple of guys talking.

JM: So you come prepared with an idea, or a song completed?

HR: Yes, usually I have a song recorded and we discuss things related to the release.

JM: Why don't we back up a second. I don't think you've ever really explained to me what the SPEEDWAY concept is... in your own words.

HR: Yeah, SPEEDWAY is basically rock-n-roll on rerun. It's in the tradition of Suicide, Dirty Beaches, that kind of like early rock-n-roll, synth, lo-fi, punk tradition. But it's just me doing home recordings.

JM: How do you get the vocals to sound the way they do?

HR: Basically it's a $20 mic off eBay through a guitar amp, through two reverb pedals, basically just cranked.

JM: Gotcha. So, is SPEEDWAY signed to Suitor's Club Records?

HR: SPEEDWAY is a flagship act under Suitor's Club Records.

JM: So it's different than the recording artist 'Hank Richardson'?

HR: Definitely. I think I was getting physically ill, to be honest, writing the same songs under my own name. I went through a very dark time, I just couldn't write a song. So SPEEDWAY is very fresh to me. It saved me a little bit.

HR: SPEEDWAY allows me to be a character and I don't have to be myself really. To date, I don't have a single love song under SPEEDWAY. Not a single one.

JM: You know I get kind of a truck-stop vibe from some of the songs.

HR: Yeah I like rough men, shitty people, shitty drinks, fast women.

JM: Shitty people?

HR: Yeah shitty people. I don't know. Did I ever tell you I wanted to ride along with a trucker for a month?

JM: In my eyes, there's two components to SPEEDWAY. There's the audio recording, obviously, but then there's this visual component of it, the album artwork and videos, which is almost an equal part of SPEEDWAY for me.

HR: So Kyle [Pellet] does all the SPEEDWAY graphic design out of San Jose. He kind of challenged me a while back to release music in a memorable way. Instead of just posting a track to a Bandcamp or a SoundCloud.  He asked, why not make a video? Make it quick, cheap and memorable.

JM: There's a very thorough look associated with SPEEDWAY. Sometimes the album art can really reinforce some of the lyrics.

HR: Right, I always tell Kyle to make the albums menacing. Almost scary.

JM: Where are you looking to find inspiration for songs? Say Reno Man...

HR: Kyle helped with that one, he is a really good copywriter. He's got a lot of good ideas.

Hank dials in Kyle and we attempt to continue the interview over speakerphone as my phone roughly records our banter from the dashboard.  Kyle compares SPEEDWAY to a shapeshifting T-1000 android while mentioning his last trip to Portland included a visit to Jade Dragon Chinese Restaurant in Hillsdale. We discuss the idea of "second-rate" (Reno is to Las Vegas) and his graphic inspiration found in poorly designed stuff like floppy disks, cloned video games and free software. Hank and I miss our turn off N. Columbia Blvd and pull around to the back parking lot of Jag's Clubhouse. We're met with a metal detector wand at the front door and I immediately order two Johnnie Walker's at the bar. One for me and one for the King of the Night.

This interview was recorded in early September of 2017 in Hank's Nissan pick-up driving north on NE MLK Blvd in Portland, Oregon. The voice memo recordings have been transcribed, minimally edited and shortened. Special thanks to Hank and Kyle.
Listen to more SPEEDWAY here:

https://speedwayofficial.bandcamp.com
Cafe Nyleta Playlist: SPEEDWAY
@suitorsclub | suitorsclub.com
@pelletfactory | pelletfactory.com






Kisshomaru Shimamura


2017
Kisshomaru Shimamura is a Tokyo based photographer specializing in fashion and advertising. After keeping up with his work for some time, I was hooked and discovered additional commercial work for brands and publications like I-D Japan, BEAMS and The North Face. Over the last few weeks, we were finally able to connect via email to exchange kind words and work in a brief yet candid interview.

When did you begin shooting photographs and what was your first camera?

The end of teenager, it was a Nikon

How often do you take photographs? Are you an avid street snapper or more focused on commercial work?

Almost everyday. I do both.

Do you drink coffee? How do you take it?

Yes. Mostly I do when I wanna relax.

What is your favorite project you have worked on to date?

"The Home", the project we gave instant cameras to homeless people, and they photographed street candid around Tokyo.

You've shot for many magazines and brands including BEAMS, The North Face and Noma Textile Design. How have you been able to connect with such reputable brands/companies?

Drinking coffee with those people.

Do you enjoy working in a commercial setting, or do you find solace through independent projects?

I find the joy, originality, solace, meanings, concepts on each works or projects irrespective of commercials or independents.

What is your favorite cafe in Portland and in Tokyo?

Courier Coffee (Portland), Coava Coffee (Portland), Let It Be Coffee (Tokyo), Mojo Coffee (Tokyo).

If you had to choose-- do you prefer film or digital?

Film.

When do you plan on returning to Portland?

Hopefully soon.

Special thanks to Kisshomaru.






Brian K. Lum

2017
Cities and urban life have always been a curious concept for me. I find a certain satisfaction with observing my own and others' routines in urban environments. The cafe staff have been fans of Portland's public transportation Instagram (@ridetrimet) for some time now and we've finally talked to the person behind the camera.

In a busy Saturday morning cafe, I met with Brian K. Lum to learn more about his views on transportation and photography while bonding over our taste for coffee and Tehuana.


Can you begin by telling us how you got into photography?

I remember seeing Liz Kuball’s photo “Untitled (Santa Barbara), 2009,” which shows a lemon tree hanging over a blond wood fence. I grew up in Santa Barbara, and that picture immediately stirred some really wonderful feelings and memories in me — stuff I hadn’t thought about in a long time. That got me thinking about how photography can have a special resonance, and I’ve spent a long time since trying to achieve something like that.

How did your interest in photography find its way to an urban public transportation agency like TriMet?

I was really happy to get a job doing web and social stuff for TriMet. They didn’t have an Instagram account, so of course I made that a priority. I’m always taking pictures, so it was the perfect project.

You successfully depict Portland in a very unique way through TriMet's social media accounts. Do you think your view on Portland shines through your photographs?

Thanks. I really wanted the TriMet feed to have its own look from the beginning, and since it was really just me keeping it going, my perspective has become a big part of it. I try to be mindful of that, and I hope what it conveys more than anything is a love for this place. I want it to be like an open-hearted love letter to Portland.

What kind of feedback do you get from some of the older folks at TriMet regarding social media and some of the more abstract images you post?

Ha! Since the Instagram account hasn’t been around that long, I would guess that most of my coworkers haven’t seen it. There are something like 3,000 TriMet employees, and I’m sure there plenty of them would wonder why I posted a picture of windshield wipers. But more are coming around to Instagram, and I have gotten some great feedback, which means so much to me. I should also point out that not all the photos I post are mine — I’ll post shots from contributors every once in a while.

What's your daily routine like at TriMet? Coffee in the morning or coffee in the afternoon?

Definitely coffee in the morning. I try to make it at home — I like trying different roasters and I finally got a V60, which I am crazy about. It’s so cute! But if I’m running late I’ll go to the Ole Latte cart up the street. They’re super nice. And then once I get to the office it’s a lot of tying things together: writing, editing, designing web stuff, making promos, monitoring social channels. And my treat at the end of the day is doing the Instagram — if I’m lucky, I’ll have taken photos that day on the way in or during lunch.

What's been the most rewarding part of being able construct the way a typically boring and conservative public transportation agency is represented on the internet?

It feels really good to work toward making TriMet’s image match up with its importance to the Portland region. We don’t usually think of infrastructure and transit as glamorous, but it’s such a huge part of why people love it here. Even if you don’t ride, transit makes your life better. So being able to show that transit is just as wonderful and vibrant as the communities it serves — in fact, it’s a big reason why these communities are wonderful and vibrant — is hugely rewarding.

Can you speak on the transit fanatics that heavily interact with the TriMet accounts spouting historic Portland factoids in a semi-troll fashion?

I’ll say this: At the heart of the die-hard transit fanatics, and even some of the trolls, there’s a desire for things to be better. I appreciate that. Sometimes I wish some of the zealotry translated better as advocacy.

Some of your photographs are taken from elevated vantage points and portray a bus or a MAX train in an almost voyeuristic sense, what's your favorite vantage point in the city for photographing your subjects?

It’s always kind of novel to get “aerial” views of the city. I don’t feel like we have many opportunities because buildings here are so low. Otherwise, if I’m on board, I try to be really careful about not seeming voyeuristic and creepy. Transit’s a public space, but it’s also where people turn inward and do their own thing. I don’t want to intrude on that. But I love on board shots because there are so many lights and surfaces, and opportunities to play with depth and focus on certain things. Plus they’re familiar to people who ride the bus or train.

What's next for your own personal photography? Any upcoming shows we need to know about?

Compared to the TriMet stuff, my personal photos feel especially scattered. Doing such focused work has inspired me to organize my pictures somehow, so I might be able to show some. I hope to make some progress toward a show this year, whatever that looks like. Maybe it’s the transit stuff — honestly, it’s all work I’m proud of and feel a personal connection to, so that would be cool, too.

See more of Brian's work here and follow him here: @bklum