You’ll no doubt have seen Luis Kramer around one or two of your favourite London venues, camera in hand. He’s captured some pertinent moments – whether it be of Slaves in the shower, Kurupt FM giving it some or a random house party put on by VICE – he’s been there up close and personal.
The inexplicable focus of his work details the gritty nature of modern leisure – whether it be through the energy of a live show, the free adrenaline of skating wherever you please or the unwavering excess in downing a case of beer in the bath. Kramer’s pinpoint ability to process those moments and solicit rich, textured narrative in his work is vital and informative in equal measure. There’s real personality here.
Photography isn’t the only thing that Kramer is a dab hand at, he explores his creative desire for art and passion for music – whether through running his own publication, Saxon Zine, with other designers on all manner of projects. Not only that, but his scrappy, intrinsic artwork holds high stead at the fore front of his own personal screen print store.
Today, Kramer provides us with his Isolation Selection. Much like his own work, it’s in-depth and enlightening – a fifty track smorgasbord of eclecticism. From the Afro-beat jives of the Lijadu Sisters to the dark, empowering industrialism of Boy Harsher – this is a three hour outer-body experience.
These really are unprecedented times, how are you, how are you all feeling in all this?
They certainly are. None of us have ever experienced anything like this is our lifetime and hopefully will never again. There is so much fear and perhaps rightfully so, about COVID-19.
Keeping yourself and others safe, acting responsibly and thinking positive is key during these days of isolation. These are of course dark times for people around the world, as the virus continues to spread. Things will get worse before they get better. But amid all the worrying news, there have also been reasons to find hope. Pollution has dropped across the globe, major falls in Nitrogen Dioxide – a serious air pollutant and warming chemical.
There are plenty of stories of panic buying (which thankfully has subsided) and fights over bog roll, but the situation has also spurred acts of kindness around the globe. Isolation has given us time for self-reflection and many are using the time to get creative and spend quality time with their immediate family.
The virus has also highlighted the importance of health workers and other people working in key services. There is a shift underway in our society and in our remembrance we see what it means to be connected, humane, to live a simpler life, to be less impactful and more kind to the environment. I’m just trying to not go insane. Although, I have been learning the Napoleon Dynamite dance routine, so.. maybe I already have?
Can you quite comprehend the impact this is having on the music industry?
It’s indeed devastating to the music industry and many other industries. It’s going to have the biggest effect on the smaller independent festivals, record shops, venues, bands, roadies, engineers and others alike. Let’s just hope (and pray) the people in power implement the necessary guidance and support for said sapiens and their endeavours. ukmusic.org have been in continuous discussions with Government Ministers and officials about the impact of Coronavirus on the music industry and you can head to their site to find out a whole bunch of useful information including financial support. But the most important thing is to stay positive, spread joy where you can and keep spirits high, and music does that for people.
I know at this stage it’s perhaps not the most important of things to consider, but do you think when all this is said and done, the foundations and the nature in which the industry runs will change??
I just hope that this doesn’t go on for so long that people become conditioned and venues become half full with people too frightened to stand within two metres of each other. I mean, it’s great for me as a photographer (easy access to the front) but like, who the hecks gonna open the pit. Whether the foundations change or the industry changes altogether, I’m not sure and I’m certainly not qualified to answer that questions with complete coherency.
How has this effected your work personally?
I have for sure lost a lot of upcoming work this Summer. Including many of the festival I annually work and tours that have now been cancelled. It’s a shitter. It’ll pass though and we’ll all be slumped out on June burnt dead grass whether it be this year or the next.
But on the other hand, who knows what other ventures I’ll undertake now having that time free. I’ve been playing more with photojournalism (which I think music photography is to a degree, especially tour photography) over the last year, so I’m going to see what happens with that, maybe I’ll get that National Geographic cover I’ve always dreamed of, you just never know do you.
What’s that cheesy saying, oh yeah. One cat flap shuts, another opens.. or something like that. If you’re worried about work, try to take a deep breath and think positive, worrying won’t help you, only bring you more things to worry about. Clear your mind and know that you’re going to kill it this Summer. Even if it means building guitars out of matchsticks and selling them on eBay, that’s obviously what you were born to do. You just never knew it.
How are you finding trying to be creative while being in such a restrictive environment?
Actually, maybe some people can relate to this but I feel like I’ve been more creative than I have been for a while. For the obvious reasons that I have so much free time but also it’s forced me to try new things, new mediums, new techniques.
There’s only so many things you can take photos of in the gaff. So I’ve put the time to good use with other creative outlets. I bought some blank skate decks and have been painting them in the hope that somebody will exchange Pound Sterling for them (unashamed plug they’ll be for sale on my store soon with a bunch of other bits and bobs sanitized batteries not included).
Also looking to completely rebrand my side project Saxon Zine which has long needed it’s fourth issue to come to fruition. And got something exciting in the works with fellow creative space cowboy Cameron JL West so watch this space and all that jazz.
Talk us through your playlist, what does it represent for you?
To be honest, I just chose 50 songs that I’ve been listening to a lot through this period. Some uppers some downers (well let’s not say downers but thinkers) but mostly uppers. I have an ‘Isolation Good Vibes’ playlist on my Spotify which I add to every Monday with songs to raise your god damn vibe so I stole a few from that. Got some pals bits on there, you know, like, James Brown, Jonathan Richman and those old chums. So yeah I hope you have a boogie or cry to it, whatever, it’s all fine.
Words: Ross Jones Header Photo: Tara Sadeghi