Hi Valerie! How are you today? Are you in London right now? Hey Imogene, yeah all good thanks! Yes, I'm In London working on zines and stuff for book launch events coming up in Tokyo, London and NY.
How do you feel about living there comparatively to New York? I never know where I want to live, which is odd because I’m such a homebody, for now it’s London, I love our weird house - a converted bakery from the mid 1800s. I’m happy when I don’t have to leave the neighborhood for days on end, a perfect week is spent at home working on projects and hanging out at Mario’s Cafe drinking coffee for hours with my local girl gang.
I can’t stand the hipster/scenester bullshit in NY, especially having grown up in Manhattan when the city was actually amazing, dangerous, super crazy creative and no Starbucks, if I moved back now it would have to be somewhere on the way Upper West Side - Harlem or Washington Heights maybe.
As far from Brooklyn or LES as possible. I’d quite like to move to Tokyo for a while, it's my favorite city, but I’d want to speak very good Japanese first.
I’m beyond excited about you’re new book “Another Girl Another Planet” and was fortunate enough to sit down with you when I was in London and get a sneak peak on an advance copy, how did the collaboration with Rizzoli come about? It’s kind of weird because it came about from having lunch with Richard Kern. I emailed him out of the blue, I’d loved his work for ages and we have so many people in common, I really wanted to meet him. During our meal he happened to mention that his wife Martynka was a big fan of my work and perhaps we should meet up, she’s an editor at Rizzoli, so we did meet and a few months later we were doing a book together! Serious dream come true!
You have worked on numerous books and zines previously however this publication covers quite a significant amount of your body of work, how did this procedure differ from the others? It was really scary because I was so caught up in the excitement of doing this project with Martynka and Rizzoli, I sort of forgot to think about whether or not it would actually work to put all these different images together as one piece, so I was sitting on the floor with my photocopier printing out zillions of pictures from my hard drives, and freaking out! But once I started sequencing a bunch of spreads I realized it worked and I really liked it, I’ve never been more relieved. I was picturing having to phone up Rizzoli and apologize and give back my advance.
I think I first came across your work over ten years ago when "Monika Monster Future First Woman On Mars” landed on my desk back when I was working at a magazine in Australia, to say I was completely obsessed would be an understatement, I remember the first time I saw those images it really resonated with me on a pretty deep level and most definitely had a huge influence on my career and the direction I wanted to take it, is there anyone specific that had the same impact on you? That’s amazing, thanks! It means a lot especially since I love what you do so much!!!!
I was never really influenced by any one particular photographer, the one thing that did have a massive impact on me was the artist book/zine shop Printed Matter in NY. I would spend ages in there when I was a teenager, mesmerized by this weird enchanted world I didn’t quite understand but somehow knew I had to be part of someday. And the fact that I am and that they sell my books and zines is never ending exciting for me.
As far as photography that I love, it would have to be Corinne Day and Juergen Teller’s pictures- their work has a passion and obsessively pure vision that’s unmistakably their own. I’m amazed by all these other very successful fashion photographers who do work that looks so generic. Many of them adapt their style to the project, as though they are just puppets for the art directors and stylists they work with. I find that really depressing. I like to be able to tell within a second of looking at an image, who shot it.
You’ve worked with some pretty powerful females including the likes of PJ Harvey and Florence Welsh, has there been any favorites? Polly and Florence are both pretty amazing talented women. I’ve spent alot more time doing pictures with Polly over the years and she holds a very special sentimental place for me. She’s also my favorite artist pretty much ever. And I’ve made some of my best work with her for sure.
You often choose to document girls over a certain period of time, what draws you to a subject and is it hard to wrap up a project that feels like it could go on for eternity? It’s totally instinctive. I have no criteria for what draws me to someone, but I’ve never been wrong about who I wanted to take pictures of. It’s such a subjective personal thing. In fact it’s one of the easiest things I ever have to decide. And I always know when I’m finished with a project. I might want to do another project with that same girl, but I know where the cut off point is for each piece.
You’re book titles are always exceptional “I Can’t Believe a Girl is Playing Me Metallica” is still to this day one of my all time favorite book names. Where did the idea for the title “Another Girl Another Planet” come from? Thanks! I’m completely obsessed with titles. They hold a piece of work together in a totally magical way. ‘Another Girl Another Planet’ is one of my all time favorite songs, it’s by a British post-punk band called The Only Ones, it was perfect for this book, it came to me one day while I was daydreaming on the bus in Camden.
What's next for you? I’d love to do a book of my PJ Harvey photographs, so many haven’t been seen. I’m putting together a sketchbook of that work at the moment so I can have a look at it all and decide what I think. I’m also working on a more autobiographical book project (though all my work is somewhat autobiographical I guess) and I have a whole bunch of zine projects in various stages of non-readyness.
Interview by Imogene Barron
Another Girl Another Planet is published by Rizzoli, available the 27th September, and you can pre order it here