No Balls, No Glory; A Polaroid Story

U.O.E.N.O

Posted in KENDRICK LAMAR, Polaroids by Ouni on July 22, 2013

Werchter, Belgium – 06/07/13

KENDRICKLAMAR_POLAROID2

Polaroids taken with Impossible Spectra PZ 680 film.

“I fucked up the festival system and UOENO.

In all seriousness, I let it sound more tough than it really is, but hey, I needed a strong intro for those brand new Polaroids I shot from none other than Kendrick Lamar.

I don’t have to introduce the man displayed on the Polaroids here above, do I?  By now, you should all be aware that this is the new king of West Coast Rap or as the man puts it himself; “Kendrick Lamar, from Compton U.S.A, student of gangster rap,.”

If you happen to miss my introduction on Kendrick, catch up here, but for the rest of you, I can immediately go to the story behind this Polaroid.

RememberListen To The King?

Well, if you read my story, you might know that my first encounter with Kendrick was rather brief… I entered that tour bus with a 5 minute time frame and I did my best to create a great story with the circumstances given to me.

After the Kendrick Lamar story was exclusively featured in The Word Magazine, I published the full story online a few weeks later and send the link from the story to Kendrick’s management over at TDE. 

To my big surprise, I received an email back with the message that they really liked my feature ànd the Polaroids and that next time they would be around I was welcome for an interview, so that I should stay in touch.

Well. That’s the best it can get really. I don’t get thàt much recognition for what I do, and this definitely felt like a nice tap on the back.

Months passed, seasons changed and after what felt like an endless winter, the month of June arrived. If you read my stories religiously, you probably know that I’m not to good in advance planning. I’m the queen of missing out on tickets for sold out shows and I’m even worse when it comes to asking for a press accreditation on due time. From the past I learned that randomly chasing for Polaroids at music festivals is highly exhausting and unbelievably stupid if you don’t have the right bracelet around your wrist.  Enters the need for accreditation.

Press accreditation doesn’t mean you’ll see any artists up close, far from it actually, but for me it gives me a little step ahead from crawling into an area I’m probably not allowed in, or maybe engage with entourage who pass by the press area that I can approach to see If I can get a Polaroid.

Long story short. I was a day late to sign up for my Werchter festival accreditation which meant that I had to miss out on the Werchter festival and most likely had to pass on a possible Kendrick Lamar interview.

Or not.

I decided to man up and mail Kendrick’s tour management and simply explain that I’m unbelievably stupid for missing out on my accreditation (Although I do I wonder if I would be granted one in the end….) and that if they were still down for the interview they had to put on me on the list, or we simply had to make a rain check at Pukkelpop festival, where Kendrick was performing as well later in the month of August.

My email remained unanswered.

Nothing that I’m not used to, plus, by the time I send that email, Kendrick Lamar and entourage already embarked on a heavy European festival summer tour so I knew my email was probably the last thing on their mind.

Two days before the Werchter festival I decided to re-send my mail and ask the management if anyone had found a moment to read my request.

I swear my heart stopped a little when an email came in that said; “Sure, let’s see how we can accommodate you.”

Things went back to silence untill the 6th of July, and I decided that I had to sent another mail to explain them that if they wanted me to be there on time, they had to let me know if things were ok for me to come or not.

I was a 2 hour train ride away and Kendrick was set to perform at 5PM. That meant that I had to take the train at 3h12 PM the latest if I ever wanted to arrive on time. The clock was ticking 2h30 PM when I finally received the message that I was on the list plus one.

I grabbed my bag, threw in some cameras, called Leo, my assistant who was on stand-bye in Brussels to say that we were on the list and ran like my life depended on it so I could catch that damn train.

A two-hour train ride, a 25 min bus ride ànd a 15 min walk later,  me and Leo finally arrived at the festival gates of Werchter. I could hear a roaring crowd responding to Kendrick Lamar who was already performing when I arrived at the check-in to say my name for my entry bracelets.

At the Werchter check-in I noticed a familiar face who told me: “I already saw your name on the list, I’m not even going to ask how you pulled this one off.”

Exhibit:

KendrickLamar_APolaroidStory

All I could do was grin.

I went straight to the stage were Kendrick was performing to catch a few last moments from his performance at Werchter.

Exhibit:

KENDRICK LAMAR A POLAROID STORY

Once his performance was finished, me and Leo headed straight for the backstage and artist village.

Once we entered the artist village, me and Leo quitely took a seat and observed.

I really had to take a moment to let it all sink in. It took me almost 5 years to get me this level of access to an artist village of a major festival. I felt like I was living a hiphop fairytale, or at least every real music lover’s wet dream.

I’m not going to lie, it was super surreal to have the fellas from Odd Future hanging on my left hand side, see Nick Cave pass me by with his army of skinny, pale Bad Seeds, dressed darker than the night and ready for a True Blood episode on my right hand side, or see James Blake silently wandering around the backstage area. Let along see Frank Ocean arriving or Azealia Banks getting ready to perform in that crazy stage outfit of hers.

Of course, me and Leo didn’t even blink, scared to be discovered by some obscure festival police squad because we clearly had no business what so ever hanging around the artist area and I was scared shitless to break some secret code I didn’t know about. Since it wasn’t allowed to take any pictures, something that was made very clear via several signs that were hanging around the artist area, plus several stewards cautiously checking out the artist village, we kept it super low profile.  Snapping away in the artist village simply was not an option, besides we were there for Kendrick first and I wanted to stay focused on that before anything else.

I also came across some label folks who couldn’t really understand how I got that artist bracelet that was hanging around my wrist.  You see, at Werchter, the artists village is strictly separated from any type of press, they can not even enter the area for an interview, the artist has to leave the village for their press obligations. Imagine the question marks in the label folks eyes when they noticed I had full access at the festival. As I said before, all I could do is grin. :)

Btw, a special shout out goes out to the lovely and might I say bést folks over at SONY BELGIUM who àlways have my back and push and hustle for me whenever they can.

Exhibit:

SonyBelgium

Anyway, it didn’t take long for Kendrick and his team to come out and they told me to hang tight and that we would do an interview after they had some dinner.

Meanwhile me and Leo discussed what we would do. I want to do more video interviews in the future, and I discussed the option of a video interview with Leo, considering we didn’t have the right tools to do it properly. Not a decent camera, not a decent microphone, nada. Ouni style. (Unfortunately)

We decided that ìf they were ok with a video interview we would suggest to go outside the artist village and find an extremely green spot that we already checked out before. If we could film the interview, great, than I would see if I could do something with the footage. If we couldn’t film the interview, then I would simply write it out like I normally do, which is fine too.

After a while, Kendrick came back from the artist restaurant and said hello to the fellas from Odd Future and played some ping-pong with them. It was super interesting to see how all these different artists interacted with each other, it’s quite interesting to witness that special sort of energy that emerges between them when you observe it from the sideline.

Kendrick’s tour manager Retone asked me what I was planning to do and how I saw the interview. I asked him if a video interview would be fine and I suggested the green spot right outside the artist village that me and Leo spotted while looking for a more interesting location than the constructed and squeaky clean artist village.

Retone checked out the spot with us and we went back to see how Kendrick was feeling about that. Not much later I found myself walking next to Kendrick and Retone, heading for the bushes with Leo walking rapidly in front of me because he wanted to borrow some picnic coolers from the stewards that were guarding the area close to our green spot.

Kendrick and Retone were looking quite hesitant when they saw both Leo and me dragging two extremely heavy picnic coolers stuffed with beers to our little green interview spot. As I said before, it was all very DIY…. I tried to assure Kendrick that the interview wouldn’t take long and that I would respect the 10 minutes that we agreed upon.

So we both sat down on the picnic coolers, I  opened my notebook, Leo hit the record button and this is the result of my very first video interview with Kendrick Lamar.

Exhibit:

 


Retone was so nice and assertive (!!) to grab my Iphone and catch some extra exhibits from my Polaroid moment with Kendrick, so I really want to share those as well.

Exhibit:

A POLAROID STORY_KENDRICK LAMAR 4

A POLAROID STORY_KENDRICK LAMAR 3

The interview was time limited, because Kendrick had some scheduled press obligations waiting for him, so I didn’t really have the time to really ask my questions in a relaxed atmosphere or in a certain time frame where you can ask questions that lead organically to an interesting conversation but still, I am very happy with the final outcome.

Special thank goes out to Retone from TDE,  for giving me this opportunity.

I’m super grateful, like #uoeno ! :)

Exhibit:

A POLAROID STORY_KENDRICK LAMAR

And that was about it, I hung around the artist village some more, checked out Frank Ocean his performance, had a bite in the artist restaurant with Leo, catched up with some familiar faces and left the festival site around 11h30 PM to catch my final train to Brussels and went home.

With some brand new Polaroids, some interesting video footage and some great memories.

And for once I didn’t have to conquer enormous obstacles to get the content that I was looking for.

I really ended up in a hiphop fairytale and I felt extremely happy.  #uoeno

Love,

OUNI

( additional photo & video footage: Leo Van Dijl. – Video Sound & Edit : David Doom )

Personal Note:

I feel like a little word of explanation about this video is necessary. Because of the heavy background noise and the fact that I didn’t have a microphone, the sound is far from perfect, but I managed to get some help from my friend David Doom, who did his best to optimize the sound as best as possible and edited the video. Huge shout out too David for his enthusiasm to help me with this video.

I obviously – still have to learn a lot when it comes to doing video interviews. Having a conversation and writing it down is one thing, having a seemingly relaxed conversation on tape is a whole other story, so please bare with my nervous outbursts and probably somewhat annoying rookie mistakes that you’ll notice in the interview. I’ll work on it. :/

I decided to publish the video interview anyway because I really want to show you how I interact with my artists and how it’s not always easy to do that in a very short and limited time span. But most of all I wanted to show the video footage to share the little things, the human things that happen when I encounter some of the biggest artists in the game.

I want this blog to evolve, and although I’m not always given the best opportunities with artists or that I currently might lack some professional tools to make things how I really want them to be, I réally want to try out more video features, so I’m very curious what you guys think of it. Don’t hesitate to drop me a note…. Love, OUNI.

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20 Responses

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  1. Aaron said, on July 24, 2013 at 03:36

    Great interview and shots..Thanks Ouni for always delivering and for the passion and dedication.

  2. Urban Soul (@urbansoulmag) said, on July 24, 2013 at 04:31

    Ouniiii it’s so nice to see you’re getting into video interviews! Don’t worry, you’ll get better and better the more you’re doing it. I’m still learning and it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve done my very first video interview (for my job though) and even for my blog, the results are still far from perfect but it comes with the experience and the right programs and tools, one step at a time, right :)? I’m glad your blog is evolving towards that direction and as always, thank you for offering us such an interesting content. Just be careful with the ‘yeah’ all the time (I do it too haha, it’s either that, or the very annoying laughters) and I totally understand how it can be more difficult to be/put people at ease when you don’t have a lot of time soooo… yeah, I’m definitely looking forward your next video feature, girl! Much love, Alison.

  3. Nikola said, on July 24, 2013 at 15:58

    D.O.P.E.

  4. JazzyBeats said, on July 24, 2013 at 16:01

    First time that I see one of your works, and I really like the way you explain how you ended up having 10 mins with the artist and what lead to this situation. Very interesting pics and the interview, well, not the smoothest one but it’s pretty valid, I’m sure that next time will be even better done!:)

    Greetings from Spain.

  5. Julian said, on July 24, 2013 at 16:11

    i found this through kendrick’s facebook page and i love it. what rookie mistakes? the video was great and i was happy to hear about the people in kendrick’s life. great questions! and i love the pic of your festival access band :)

  6. […] here to read the full Kendrick Lamar […]

  7. Miss__Melanie said, on July 24, 2013 at 17:07

    As an aspiring media personality myself, this is so dope! Love how you gave us the full story behind this interview so that we could share in your joy as well. I believe that great (and unusual) things happen to people with good intentions and that’s why you received such great access to Kendrick and his team! Great interview and great pictures!

  8. ROGER said, on July 24, 2013 at 17:17

    From the photos, to the interview… great job all around.

  9. Julian said, on July 24, 2013 at 17:22

    I really enjoyed this. It’s stories like this that make me want to get back into reporting. I would give anything to get a 10 minute interview with Kendrick. Good story all around, great interview, great questions, and a really solid job for one of your first video interviews. That green setting was awesome. Very cool.

  10. A Polaroid Story. | jennifer. said, on July 24, 2013 at 17:42

    […] love the idea behind this. It combines music and polaroids and.. stories. Great feature on Kendrick. I can’t wait to buy my next polaroid […]

  11. justanotherguyyouknow said, on July 24, 2013 at 18:47

    I have to say, this post is pretty awesome. Not only am I a photo nerd, but a huge fan of Kendrick. Well done all around. Earned a follow for sure.

  12. Archie Green said, on July 25, 2013 at 14:13

    I thought this was BRILLIANT! Everything from your story leading up to the interview, and actually watching the interview. The fact that the interview was conducted in the woods, atop a pair of picnic coolers…LEGENDARY! I’m sure Kendrick will never forget this moment, as well as you. Excellent interview, amazing story.

  13. archiegreen85 said, on July 25, 2013 at 14:15

    Reblogged this on ARCHIEGREEN and commented:
    Everything about this interview/story is DOPE!

  14. ginamylife said, on July 29, 2013 at 06:49

    Reblogged this on ginamylife's Blog.

  15. ginamylife said, on July 29, 2013 at 06:50

    Love the story I’m fan of Kendrick Lamar and Polaroid pictures

  16. HECTOR BARRIENTOS said, on August 13, 2013 at 21:40

    Awesome work!! Loved the realness of this interview.. You are so lucky to have met perhaps the greatest rapper ever!
    -Hecks_tps
    THEPRIMESUSPECTS.NET

  17. Phillipus Tobias said, on August 27, 2013 at 20:10

    This is a cool initiative that you created. Its authentic and original, keep those face to face interviews coming.

  18. NadaIsmail said, on February 23, 2014 at 03:21

    I think he could sense that you have a genuine interest in his music and that you’ve done your research. Most interviewers repeat the same questions and facts about the artist and run them to the ground. They take it for granted that they will get the interview so they don’t even bother Youtubing or googling the artist beforehand. But you have the spirit of a hustler and you really value whatever time you can get.
    On top of that, the fact you pulled of an interview sitting on picnic coolers in that lush greenery is brilliant! (I used to live in Belgium and I definitely miss the scenery) As nerve-wracking as it may have been for you to come up with this on the spot, it comes across as really organic because of the spontaneity. This was truly refreshing and inspiring, especially since I’ve been mulling over starting music journalism myself. Thank you and keep it up! :)


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