It’s not often that I get to sit down with artists or people that I admire in the fashion, music or beauty industry and when I do I A) try not to fangirl too much and B) make sure they’re a pretty big fucking deal. My latest one-on-one interview was with legendary photographer, Mick Rock.
Best known for his work with rock and pop music’s most iconic artists, including David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Madonna and Lady Gaga to name a few, Rock’s photographs have influenced the artistic community and chronicled over 40 years of music history.
Mick Rock was in town a few weeks ago because he was being recognized by audio specialists Sennheiser at the AGO coinciding with the Canadian launch of the record-breaking exhibition about one of history’s most influential artists, “David Bowie Is.” Working concurrently with the stirring images courtesy of Rock, Sennheiser has designed an immersive audio experience to enrich the sounds of “David Bowie Is,” taking visitors on an unforgettable, multi-sensory journey. Through its guidePORT audio guide system, music will automatically stream when visitors approach the exhibits / screens to seamlessly integrate all sound material into the tour; allowing the visitor to explore Bowie’s music, art, and style with all their senses. The pristine audio voyage culminates with two extraordinary 3D sounds experiences; one featuring footage of David Bowie performing live in concert and on TV, and the other used during Tony Visconti’s evocative “mash-up” of Bowie songs, created specifically for the exhibition.
Running from Sept 2 – Nov 27, 2013 at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the “David Bowie is” exhibition re-traces the artists’ creativity and influences from all areas of art via video, costume, album covers, stage sets, photographs and Bowie’s music. For more information regarding the “David Bowie Is” exhibition, visit AGO.net.
Do you like shooting music or fashion people? And do you find yourself shooting more of one over the other?
Obviously, my destiny was always tied up with music cause of the bloody name. But I do some fashion, I do some lingerie stuff too, I take great photos of cats [laughs], I do my photo ops, I like to shoot Kabuki theatre. I’m not really, you know, where I’m confined, although Rock ‘n’ Roll has tried to keep me contained and in the end I think my pictures always come out with Rock ‘n’ Roll flavour. I know that with VICE [Magazine] we’re going to shoot a nun in garter belts shoot, and maybe I’ll do another music video.
This shot becoming such an infamous one and being a Gaga fan I HAD to ask about it!
What was going on here, what happened?
[Laughs] It was a late night, it was after some event…at the lower level of Carnegie Hall there was a charity event Bono was involved with, Gaga got up and sang, um.. and few other characters, I think Rufus Wainwright got up. And this was a late night party at The Spotted Pig, which is a quirky little bar/restaurant down in the West Village in New York, and right at the top there’s a private party room, and Bono was VERY keen with me taking these pictures. He wanted evidence that he hung out with Lady Gaga [laughs].
Being around fashion heavy-weights do you find yourself taking cues in your dressing?
I don’t regard myself as anything. People often say to me “Mick you got style,” And well do I? I don’t know, I’ve been dressing much the same for a long time, I don’t really think about it. My friend John Varvatos is quite brilliant, he’s given me loads of stuff and I shoot for him sometimes and he’s bought a lot of prints. He’s a very nice, sweet human being, he and I became close friends, and I only wear Varvatos jeans (I don’t blame him, they’re cut like a dream) and I have all these wonderful jackets but I don’t wear them very often because I’m a photographer, and of course scarves, I love scarves. Otherwise I’m in denim, no ironing, just throw them in a wash and throw back on…they’re tough clothes, I think that’s another thing, you don’t have to think about, to look after them at all. Like I said, you sling ‘em in the washer, take ‘em out, stick ‘em back on. There’s no dry cleaning involved, nothing fancy; they’re cheap, easy & rugged. Probably for you too, (cause I was wearing denim on denim) they make our lives easier.
Denim on denim is a lifestyle.
Now he’s [John Varvatos] done this new book (above), you should see it, “Rock in Fashion” It does have a lot of my pictures in it, probably more than any other photographer, you’ll love it!
What are some plans on expanding the Mick Rock brand or upcoming projects?
People wanted to get me involved with designs with a new hotel in London, and then there’s a company that I have contracts to make a Mick Rock brand and then there’s a documentary, oh then there’s a glam musical and a new book with Bowie next year – and that’s before I pick up a fucking camera.
The man is nonstop and finds meditation and getting regular massages to deal with the stress of traveling, hectic scheduling and work load. A true marvel to sit & talk with, there’s much more that hasn’t made it onto this interview that I’ll keep with me forever. An honour to meet him and absolutely fascinating.
In honour of Rock, The Templar Hotel will house a special GLAM!: A Salute to Mick Rock photo exhibit which will showcase Rock’s other iconic work throughout the years as well as behind-the-scenes shots and portraits not featured in “David Bowie Is.” The GLAM!: A Salute to Mick Rock exhibit will be available for viewing through November before travelling to Montreal and Vancouver locations. You MUST visit the exhibit.
Photos: Mick Rock