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Posted May 26th, 2015 (9:00 am) by Theresa Flanagan
Orlando Volcano - Dorje de Burgh
Image by Dorje de Burgh

Coming from a fresh angle, we’re kicking off a new biweekly series, giving additional perspective to music. Visuals explores the role visual art plays in music around the world. From photographers shooting musicians, to graphic designers who’ve worked on album covers, we’ve got the scoop on how visual artists blend their passion and artwork with music. Focused mainly on visual work, we asked for stories from their time working in the music industry; sharing their thoughts, motivations, techniques, and experiences with musicians to us.

Our first piece comes your way from superb photographer Dorje de Burgh, who we first met through our guest post from Solar Bears' John Kowalski last year. Dorje took this opportunity to take us on a brief visual tour of his career in music photography so far.

To start things off, we asked Dorje to tell us a little about himself:

"I'm a Dublin-based photographer. I spend most of my time making Ballard-heavy dread-infused social-personal documentary that may or may not have a thing to do with what is going on in the world outside my own imagination (but I believe it does). I'm going to turn this work into a book in the next year or two, but in the meantime it serves primarily to stave off my anxiety regarding the forthcoming singularity/ecological doom, depending on the mood. I'm currently obsessed with the writing of Nick Land, the movie Stalker, and the clothing of Matthew Miller."

What got you started in photography, and music photography specifically?

"Through my pal Orla. My Mum was involved in the local art school in her 20s and there were always beautiful old Nikkormats and photo books lying around, but it had just never really occurred to me to pick up a camera myself. I was working in a record store and pretty much just being a waster. One night out (at a long-disappeared electric-double-bass-and-turntable combo Fingathing show) I grabbed Orla’s rubbish old Canon v1000 and immediately knew this was what I was meant to be doing. Also, the record store closed down because the owner was convicted for murdering his wife."


I Am The Cosmos

"I've been best friends with Cian, one half of I Am The Cosmos since I was 14, and had been making art through photography for a while when the guys asked me to design their debut LP cover and shoot their press photos for the Vice mag launch a couple of years ago. It was through working on this that I met John K. & Rian from Solar Bears, Lasertom, Jape, all the pals.

The original idea that the guys put forward was inspired by an image of Marina Abramovic and Ulay, but that didn't quite work out, so we pared it down to a simple inverted portrait, shot in our pal Lucy Andrew's studio (look her up, she makes quite impossibly poised and scientifically-informed installation pieces). The point of reference for this image was a kind of tongue-in-cheek nod to late 80s-early 90's The Face and Calvin Klein, which I suppose were quite aesthetically formative for us, even if at the height of their cultural visibility and impact all we wanted to do was get baked and play football."


Orquesta/Orlando Volcano

"A little while later I shot Orlando Volcano, then recording under the name Orquesta. You can see I cleverly repeated the from-behind trick, this time with a little more of a Cohen Brothers as opposed to CK vibe. Orlando's an incredible dude, he was just about to head off to New York for the Red Bull Music Academy, and had recorded an EP named after and inspired by his hometown Bray, which is just down the coast from Dublin. When we headed back to his Dad's place, which is a gate lodge on the grounds of this beautiful manor house, Orlando offered to walk me back down to the train station. We were walking out the driveway when a convoy of about 6 insane supercars - a couple of Ferraris, a McLaren F1, a Bugatti Veyron - pulled in, ferrying a posse of insurance executives for some conference. That's how we ended up with Orlando - who's quite the baller - serendipitously sitting in a white Lambo. It wasn't the image used in the end but it's still my favourite."


Cloud Castle Lake

"I feel really privileged to have been given the opportunity to work with the Lakers on the ground-floor level, because if the last year has been anything to go by they're going to be huge, and rightly so. This image was made in the National Concert Hall, where I Am the Cosmos and few others have studios as a result of a really cool residency program. It's an incredible building, full of these huge rooms in various stages of quite beautiful decay, and the Cosmos guys were kind enough to arrange access for us. The guy who looks after the Lakers, Max Rocha, runs Happy Valley, a fantastic little label in London that's absolutely worth keeping an eye on - he's a dude that does it all out of love."



Princess

"Princess are a very beautiful, very talented couple who make some serious Kraut-y-psych-garage. I shot them in this great house that's owed by a lovely French lady who sells the most incredible vintage couture online. There's a whole room filled with racks and racks of Hermes, Chanel, Dior... Hence Liam and Aoife's elegantly coordinated outfits."


Lasertom

"This is one of my favourite portraits...Simon had just finished his record Drift for Berlin's Stratosfear Recordings, and his partner Sorca (with whom Simon also makes music in the band Ships) pretty much nailed it. We were going through the contacts and had almost decided on this one, but couldn't quite figure out why we were drawn to it. She put it quite simply: 'it looks like I just finished writing and recording and mixing my record and I'm really super fucking tired'. That was that."


Jape

"I'd been a total fan boy of Jape for years before finally meeting him and hanging out through working with the Cosmos and Solar Bears. It's strange when this happens with someone who at one point seems so distant, the real deal, but Richie is just the sweetest guy, and it was a total trip to finally work with him in the lead up to his last LP (which is great by the way). I was trying to get him and Glen to do all these serious, formal poses and all Rich wanted to do was hug and smile, which says a lot. This image didn't make the cut in the end but it's still kinda my favourite."



Mmoths

"The most recent music thing I've worked on was with Mmoths. The images above are outtakes from a large series of portraits I made of Jack over the course of a couple of days. The art direction is being looked after by a seriously creative polymath dude from LA named Hassan Rahim. He makes some serious work, as does Jack, and their aesthetic sensibilities are perfectly attuned to each other, so I just feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to be involved."

Finally, we asked Dorje where we can see more of his work:

"I'm in a group show in Germany this summer as part of PhotoIreland's contribution to the Container City project in the Triennial of Photography Hamburg. It's a really cool project - the brainchild of the PhotoIreland festival main man Ángel Luis González Fernández - that seeks to re-imagine and reconfigure traditional representations of Ireland. I'm also included in the 185th Royal Hibernian Academy's annual exhibition, which is pretty exciting. I also have a website."

Check out full sizes of the images in the gallery below, and look out for our next feature from "pint-sized pixel ninja " Ellie Pritts in two weeks!

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