Keith Vaz's Film_ project uses inventive analogue photography to share a behind the scenes perspective from his tours with Tropics and With Joyful Lips.
Is there anyone who remembers the days before Instagram? When we did cool shit, how did we show everyone how awesome we were? When we went travelling, how did we make friends jealous of our adventures? Well, the answer – from what now seems like a long lost age – was: the disposable camera. But as camera technology has advanced beyond those frustrating plastic little boxes, become almost entirely digital and able to be shared instantly with millions via the internet, ironically, photographs themselves have become ever more…disposable.
Paddling against the flow, Keith Vaz struck a chord when he resurrected the lost art of disposable camera photography to capture his tours with Tropics. Keith is an all round creative dude and part of the Man Up Girl! Collective that we featured in Huck last year. With his Film_ series he has stepped up the formula to capture each tour with a different film camera or artistic technique. For Keith, the series has allowed him to share a unique perspective on his creative output, playing in the live act for UK producer Tropics and his own project With Joyful Lips. This time around he brought his illustrator brother in to annotate the finished photographs, allowing him to transform Keith’s images in any way he chose.
Why did you chose a disposable camera to begin documenting your tours?
For my love of film: the character, the fun, the developing! Surprisingly, they are incredibly practical too. When touring with the live show my hands are usually busy with guitars and luggage. So I needed something a bit more robust than an SLR while on the road.
What made you step up your game and get an illustrator involved?
The illustrator is actually my younger brother, Jason Vaz. He’s currently studying AS Level Art at his college, and when I caught a glimpse of his work I knew I had to get him involved. I’ve been running the photo project for a while, and wanted to do something special for the start of 2014 so the idea just seemed to make sense.
How much did you try to direct the illustrations?
I wanted this to be a true collaboration so much like the anticipation of waiting for developing photos, I endured the process twice whilst I gave full creative control to my brother. Now that’s artistic trust! When they arrived back the tone had completely changed from a photo-journalistic angle to a collaborative artistic feel. That was exactly the character I had hoped for.
Where do Tropics end and With Joyful Lips begin?
Tropics is a UK producer who has just signed to LA label Innovative Leisure. I perform as part of the three-piece live band showcasing the music in a live setting. With Joyful Lips is the pen-name I use to house my own creations in the form of music, photography, and videos. The photos feature the Tropics band on tour in Mexico and New York City.
Could you pick your favourite story behind a photo?
The photo of us in Mexico City: simply because I’d never been, or played, at a party anywhere like it. The ‘Distrito Global’ organisers went all out for the show, which was set in old castle ruins. They had a huge sound system, tasty cuisine and flowing mescal. All the decor was planned according to inspiration from our music videos, with hidden hideouts and interactive art-installations throughout. And to top it off there was a full-crowd of amazing Mexican party go-ers!
What’s your radest story from the tour?
After the substantially big night in Mexico City, we were rather worse for wear as you can imagine. We managed to drag ourselves out of bed the next day to say a quick thanks to the guys who flew us out there; only to discover we were instead being taking to a twenty-five-hour party in an underground club that locals address as ‘Satan’s Chapel’. And without giving too much away, the translation was very fitting when inside!
Where does the project go from here?
It’s been amazing to see the project grow from a small photography experiment all the way to collaborating with dream sponsors like Lomography for my last series. The illustrative venture was a fun-enough process that I’ll definitely be doing again. You can stay locked for experiments with a variety of new cameras, film, and all-out arty endeavours coming up next.
Check out more of Keith’s new photos, music, and videos here.