New S&M book and vinyl on Ditto Press.

New S&M book and vinyl on Ditto Press.

Photographer Sanna Charles, who shot and wrote the Slayer Tribute in Issue 39 of HUCK, has teamed up with her S&M musical collaborator Mark Wagner to produce a special book and ten-inch vinyl called sha•man, out from Thursday September 12 on Ditto Press.

Sanna’s ethereal images of “forests, man-made totems and haunting landscapes” have been reproduced in a variety of duotones and some four-colour processes by the Ditto Press risograph. The process of printing changes the colours and textures completely – see Sanna’s original images in the slideshow above – to give the book an otherworldly, spacey feel. The dramatic landscapes are at once familiar and kind of alien – like the surface of the moon.

The images perfectly compliment the sound of S&M – a duo comprising Sanna on drums and Mark on guitar and vocals – who are described as playing “a unique blend of ritualistic folk, tribal doom, mystical blues and unearthly soundscapes”. We caught up with the experimental artists ahead of the launch of sha•man on Thursday September 12 at MKII Studios to get to the root of the collaborative process.

What was the idea behind making the book/record?
M: The idea was to make the most of our respective skills/crafts (photography, art direction, musicianship) in an effort to combine and transcend the existing formats used to present works of photography and/or music.

S: I was approached by Ditto to see if I wanted to make a book of my photographs, though the pictures they had in mind were already spoken for so, from what i can remember, Mark and I came up with a proposal that would include my photography and our music. I have always had this vague idea brewing for a story-based photo project that runs with a piece of music and sha•man is a realisation of this, a way for us to put the music we make together into some kind of visual context.

The book/vinyl release was a collaboration, how does the collaborative process work with S&M?
M: Having worked as a photo editor and art director for a long time, and having followed the progress of Sanna’s work since we’ve known each other we have naturally worked together from the get-go, though for the most part as an informal and amicable process. Though I write the songs, the two-piece set-up means our respective instruments [drums and guitar] drive the band. The songs are part improvised and ever-changing. The band name, music, mood, concepts, songs, lyrics, rythms morph and change as we ourselves grow and change. We ride the impermanence.

S: I often go to Mark for advice on my photography, as a photo editor he can understand where I’m coming from even when I find it hard to explain in words. Friends generally understand each other without having to say too much, that is how our relationship is with regards to our process of making music. Though Mark writes the songs we often drive a song forward through improvisation or we’ll rework old ones to sound completely different depending on how we’re feeling during that one practice. I find the process very organic.

Can you explain the title of the book?
M: sha•man refers to the masculine/feminine principle/duality, coupled with the principle of vibration (sound) and the principle of rhythm. These are governing principles behind ALL THINGS and are at the very heart of Shamanic healing, practice, and magick. Coincidently the name bears resemblance to our respective name-sakes, hence also S&M.

S: The title sha•man links with our name S&M, which is our current name, this may change in the future. Nothing we create together in set in stone. The shamanic practice of healing through sound and vibration has become an influence in our music since our recent name change, this made it the most fitting title.

What are your hopes for this release?
M: Working towards the fulfilment of cosmic Will.

S: Ditto have done such an amazing job, I would like for as many people as possible to listen and enjoy the work.