“All good music should tell a story.”
That’s the philosophy behind the beautifully brooding builds of Berlin’s deep house duo Tale of Us (@taleofus). Each groove they create captures a time, a place, a person or a feeling in their lives. But what is the story behind the story? What is the tale of Tale of Us?
With more than 150 gigs in the last year alone, theirs is an adventure taken all over the globe. From the busy streets of Tokyo to the Coachella Valley, from dusty dunes to ancient spires and everything in between, Tale of Us have seen – and tasted – much of what this world has to offer.
For those with wanderlust, a professional DJ career is a pot of gold. If Tale of Us’ Karm Conte or Matteo Milleri want to journey to a far-off land, they’ve only got to find the right booking – and when you’re one of underground house’s brightest burning stars, your shine reaches nearly every dark corner and club under the sky.
The pair recently made a stop in Tokyo to spread their love of house, take some pics and slurp more than their fair share of ramen.
“Both of us are very inspired by the Japanese culture, so it was a must to go play there,” they say in a joint email interview. “We’ve been impressed by the sea of buildings you can see from above, but also by the food we had. We had some next level ramen we won’t forget, but also some great sushi, and also had the chance to try Kobe beef.”
Of course, you can’t always let your stomach decide your fate. Tale of Us make some romantic beats, and also wear their hearts on their sleeves. For instance, they recently traveled to Cape Town on a tour with Bridges for Music, a nonprofit that gathers electronic artists to bring music and awareness to strengthen developing nations.
“Cape Town was clearly one of the most amazing places we’ve been to,” they say. “The city itself and everything around is incredible, a mix of Europe and Africa that you can’t find anywhere else. We had no idea house music was such a huge thing there. In the townships, every kid wanted to be a DJ, so it felt very natural to do our best to help them fulfill their dreams.”
To capture their journeys, Karm and Matteo often team up with friends. Recently, they’ve hit the road with famed music photographers Richard Bellia and Christian Lamb (@cthelamb). Their manager has also developed some “serious” smartphone picture skills over the years. These moments in time serve not only as a means for fans to connect with the mobile music men, but also to remind Tale of Us of the magic they find along the way.
Back in Berlin, they hone these sights, sounds and experiences into sonic snapshots. Those tracks then fly around the world on airwaves, in mixes, on radio, flowing from headphones into ears all over the globe. In that way, the music and the memories become the shared experience of everyone. It’s a sound that truly becomes the Tale of Us.
–Kat Bein for Instagram @music
Around the Community
Before breakfast each morning, husband and wife Joel Slezak (@freegrassfarmer) and Erica Hellen (@shefarmsinfreeunion) have hundreds of mouths to feed. All the chickens, ducks, cows and pigs on their small farm near Charlottesville, Virginia need food and water before anything else. Plus, the temperature in the brooder needs adjusting for the baby chicks, the hens need moving to fresh grass and the pigs need to be accounted for. “They’re total escape artists,” Joel jokes.
For Joel and Erica, a life connected to the land is richly rewarding. But it’s manual and it’s tough. “The cows don’t leave and the chickens don’t just die when we’re tired. We simply have to keep going until the work is done,” Erica says. “I think what keeps us going is knowing that what we’re doing is a truly viable and better alternative to the factory food system,” Joel adds. “When customers come up and just pour their heart out on why raising this type of food is important and why it means so much to them, it does keep us going.
“A good old instrument to me feels like a neighborhood bar that’s been around for years,” says James Alexander (@boltelectricsound), who spends his free time making custom guitar pickups and repairing amps out of his home in Knoxville, Tennessee. “It’s got a spirit to it and a history that I like. Every time I work on a great piece of equipment I just think of how lucky I am. I get to fix it, play it to make sure it works, sit with it as long as I want and then I give it back. I don’t have to own it. I used to buy and sell this stuff all the time because I could never decide what I wanted. But now, people just bring it to me and I get to try it out. They’re appreciative and I’m appreciative and it works out.”
No surprise that James is big on the old stuff – worn-in, classic equipment that was made to last. He even learned the old-fashioned way, teaching himself how to fix things thanks to a soup-to-nuts textbook.
“I had no formal electronics experience, so I ended up getting an old naval electronics book,” he says. “And the thing was so good because it is dumbed down. It’s like ‘electricity is like water and water comes from the sky.’ It starts at the very bottom. I have never taken a class on it, to tell you the truth. It’s really just been trial and error.”
– Instagram @music
To see more of Eric’s colorful mermaid tails, follow @themertailor on Instagram.
Using garbage bags and duct tape, Eric Ducharme (@themertailor) created his first mermaid tail at age seven, inspired by watching the underwater mermaid shows at Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs. “From the first moment I saw a ‘real live mermaid,’ I knew I was going to be doing something for the rest of my life that involved mermaids,” Eric remembers.
His grandmother taught him how to sew, and, aiming for a realistic looking tail, he started experimenting with different materials like spandex and rubber. “For me it was all about trial and error,” Eric says. “My weekly allowances went to making mermaid tails!” Now, 17 years later, Eric runs his own business, producing handcrafted mermaid tails for a living. Between sculpting, mold-making, airbrushing and answering emails from clients in Australia, Eric says there’s never a dull moment being a ‘mertailor.’ “It is quite the day, I have to tell you!”
Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.
The goal this weekend is to capture creative photos and videos from a low vantage point to view the world from a different perspective than we normally see it. Some tips to get you started:
PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPlowaltitude hashtag only to photos and videos taken this weekend and only submit your own photographs and videos to the project. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged image or video taken this weekend is eligible to be featured Monday morning.
(This interview was conducted in Portuguese.)
There is nothing still about the images São Paulo music photographer Rogerio Soeiro (@rogeriosoeiro) captures of hip hop performers. “I like shooting hip hop because it gives the photographs a sense of movement,” says Rogerio, who doubles as a DJ with his musical partner Eric Cunha (@ericneww).
Rogerio began shooting live music when he was 18. “I was inspired to shoot shows because it was a way to combine two of my passions: music and photography.” Among those who he most admires, Rogerio cites his grandfather and the artist Drake (@champagnepapi), who he dreams of photographing one day. “My grandfather was the one who introduced me to photography. He was a photographer and would let me play with his old cameras as a kid.”
Through his photographs of live performances, Rogerio hopes to somehow express sound. “I want people to feel the vibration of that moment. This way, photography and sound really blend together in an image.” Capturing the beat of each musician through individual portraits is also very important to him: “I am really interested in exposing the identities of these musical artists. Every single one of them.”
To see more of Gio’s cutouts, follow @giopastori on Instagram.
The illustrator Gio Pastori’s (@giopastori) approach to creating his playful cutout illustrations is simple. “I usually use no more than two to three colors,” he says. “I sketch my ideas before, then I draw the subjects with a blade on colored paper with no guidelines, to keep it fresh. Then I put it all together.” For Gio, who lives in Milan, Italy, the fashion world often influences his colorful work — from a Moschino sandal to a Valentino print. “The fashion world’s rapid change and depth is something I find exciting and inspiring.”
Gio, who only recently finished his university studies in illustration, wants to continue his work surrounded by inspiration. “My dream is a good-quality studio shared with good friends in a nice place doing beautiful things.”
Name a gig in the music business, Otis Barthoulameu (@otisserie) has probably done it: he was the guitarist for punk bands Fluf and Olivelawn, a sound engineer for Dinosaur Jr., a producer on Blink-182’s first record and a roadie for Muff. He’s also a veteran photographer. Lately, he’s been shooting a new series of images – a throwback to the days before we had the ability to take thousands of pictures without blinking an eye.
“I got this thing I made up called 1 Photo and 1 Photo Only,” says Otis, over the phone from Southern California. “I was just challenging my friends. I go, ‘Look, you guys take 50 pictures and you edit them forever. I am going to take one and it’s going to be better than any of yours.’”
For each series, Otis always goes in with a plan. A few months ago, he tried it out on his friend, Black Flag and Off! singer Keith Morris.
“I was like, ‘Let me take one picture,’ and he didn’t know what to do,” says Otis, who typically goes by “O.” “He was messing with his hair, and I took him outside. I got him while he was putting his hair in his hat. ‘Like, hold it out here real quick.’ I had to pose him a couple times. I had to drag his hand around. He was getting mad at me the whole time. Then afterwards he was like, ‘I like that. It was an awesome photo.’”
Fans can feel Gigi Loren Lazzarato’s (@gigigorgeous) larger-than-life personality beaming in her photos. From red carpets to high-octane pool parties, Gigi’s feed is filled with bright colors, emojis and a lot of levity. But a more personal story is also quietly weaved throughout: Gigi is a transgender woman who has paved herself a successful career in the entertainment industry — and paved a powerful road for other members of the LGBT community to follow.
“Although it’s not always the easiest to share every aspect of my life, especially the emotional and extremely vulnerable moments, I feel a responsibility to tell my story. I get messages from girls and boys around the world that touch me, and I know if they were in my position they would do the same for me,” Gigi says. “All I’m trying to do is be the best me I can be. I am an honest, caring, loving, and passionate person.”
Here are five of Gigi’s favorite accounts to follow on Instagram:
For more glimpses inside the pages of The Morgan Library and Museum’s rare manuscripts, follow @cnlibrarian on Instagram.
For Christine Nelson (@cnlibrarian), the Drue Heinz Curator of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at New York City’s Morgan Library and Museum (@themorganlibrary), the past is never far from reach. “I work with personal letters from Jane Austen and Voltaire, manuscripts of Charlotte Brontë and Bob Dylan,” Christine shares. “This range allows me to move from one century to another, one fascinating life to the next.” Through her work in the library over the past 25 years Christine has come to find beauty in intimate familiarity revealed through these handwritten records. “Thoreau looks at some ice crystals on a window and makes a little sketch in his journal. Teenage Brontë makes a tiny list of the stories she’s written. Jefferson goes on the road and writes a letter home, using a piece of tree bark instead of paper. This is everyday life at its most mundane, which to me is the beauty of it! These little details I see, these ordinary traces of extraordinary lives, connect me with the past in the most intimate way.”
In addition to sharing excerpts from her findings in the archive — details from 19th-century hand-colored engravings, flowers pressed into a note by Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, original watercolors from Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince — Christine runs her own series, #letterformfive, where she documents all the variations of the most common letter in the English language: E. “It’s a good game, finding Es,” Christine explains of the series. “It’s fun to look at a handwritten E by young Henry David Thoreau alongside a glorious E printed in Venice in 1498, or to see my husband running past a giant metal E under the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philly, and realize they all represent the same sound, across time and space.”
“I tend to speak in analogies, and there are so few that are accurate for vinyl production,” says Jay Millar, director of marketing for United Record Pressing (@unitedrecordpressing) in Nashville, Tennessee. “The closest I’ve ever come to one would be like being a baker, but they are constantly changing your pans and your ingredients. Every recording is so unique from one to the next — even if it’s literally the same songs. It’s a lot of trial and error getting that to work right.”
Here’s (the very simplified version of) how United works: The process starts with pellets — vinyl pellets, to be specific, which look a bit like gravel. The pellets are then heated to 250 degrees and squeezed like a tube of toothpaste into a shape that resembles a biscuit. Then a label is slapped on the middle. After 200 tons of pressure, the biscuit is flattened out and trimmed and voila: you have your record.
Today, United is the busiest record plant in the country, operating 24 hours a day, six days a week.
“There really is no slow time,” says Jay. “To me it’s almost laughable when the word ‘trend’ gets brought up. Because how many trends last over 10 years? Can you really call something that’s lasted 10 years — especially when it’s not only lasted, it’s something that has never gone away — a trend?”
— Instagram @music
To see more of Linh’s photographs, follow @phamhaduylinh on Instagram.
“I love complex photos, and that’s why I choose to work in crowded places,” says Linh Pham (@phamhaduylinh), a 24-year-old Vietnamese photojournalist. “And at the same time, I always try to find something that stands out from the crowd — a sunbeam, or someone doing something different or wearing a different color than everyone else. Photography, for me, is a type of exploration.”
One element of that exploration, Linh says, is revisiting the places he has photographed by re-examining the pictures themselves. “When you’re in a crowd you can’t see everything at once, but afterward, if you’ve taken some good pictures, you can take the time to go back and look at the details and you can see what was really going on at that moment.”
After studying graphic design in college, Linh spent two years photographing in places as diverse as Cuba, Texas, Guatemala and Switzerland. But he’s glad to be home in Vietnam. “I liked traveling and taking photos, but right now, I don’t really belong in those places,” he says. “It was important for me to come back and do something here.”
“#Hellomynameis Anthony Cardoso (@anthonyckn). I am 16 years old and have always loved nature and discovering the outdoors. I was born in Cambuí, Brazil, but have lived in Monte Verde, a small Brazilian mountain town, since I was very little. I started getting into photography when I got a tablet from my parents at the age of 12 and began capturing all the natural beauty around me. When I saw my photographs, I felt motivated to continue, and then discovered I really liked taking pictures. I eventually traded my tablet for a smartphone, which I now carry around with me wherever I go. I think that since I grew up outdoors, I have a special passion for nature and animals. Being exposed to this scenery on a daily basis inspires me more and more. I think anything that I feel or catches my attention deserves to be captured — and should also be shared. The future is still uncertain, but I am a dreamer. One day, maybe I’d like to become a professional photographer. But whatever happens in my career, I know I will never stop taking pictures. I am captivated by photography and would never be able to stop.”
Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope (1997) is a critically acclaimed pop album with an unusual cover: a label-less portrait of the singer looking down, mid-motion, while her hair dangles in front of her face. It’s a fun, bold choice for a pop star of Janet’s magnitude – and easier to understand when you consider the person who took the photo.
“I am always attracted to the [pictures] where it’s almost an accident or a spontaneous movement,” says photographer Ellen Von Unwerth (@ellenvonunwerth), who shot the cover. “I always tend to like those best because there’s an urgency and energy in it.” Though Janet was the one who ultimately chose the image, Ellen’s style is front and center: the playfulness, the spirit and the idea of capturing a real moment in time instead of something staged.
Today, Ellen is primarily known for her work in the fashion industry. But some of her most iconic pictures have been of musicians. The recent Rihanna photos in Esquire? That was her. The famed 1993 Madonna pictures in Vogue? Ellen, as well. There are also the countless album covers, music videos and magazine spreads she’s done with everyone from Beyoncé to Britney Spears.
Ellen, who was born in Germany in 1954, began shooting photos professionally in her late 20s, after a boyfriend gave her a camera as a gift. By then she had already been modeling for 10 years. However, while on a shoot in Africa, she developed a passion for what was happening on the other side of the lens. There she took photos of the kids in the village, which were later published in a magazine.
“It was very exciting,” says Ellen. “It was a much bigger part of me in there. I kept looking at the pages over and over again. I couldn’t believe it. It was just a different feeling. It was more of a creative process, because being a model you don’t have so much … I mean, of course you are creative too, but actually taking pictures, you do so much more – you create the look.”
Ellen has been shooting photos for more than three decades, but she still remembers most of her shoots: the details, the drive and the relationship between her and her subjects. One of the first bands she ever shot was the British new wave group Fine Young Cannibals, who she photographed in a tree. Later on she would collaborate with Duran Duran on several album covers and promotional work.
“They called me and said, ‘Hey, we like your pictures,’” she says. “You know, they were very cool but didn’t take themselves too seriously.”
Working with them was a good fit: when it comes to getting the shot she needs, it’s all about a lighthearted attitude. That’s why Ellen often plays disco and funk music during her shoots to loosen everyone up.
“It’s almost like my shoots should be more like a game, like playing,” she says.
Her recent work with Azealia Banks for Playboy is a terrific representation of it. She photographed the rapper in a playful environment, wearing a Catwoman suit in front of backgrounds of pink and purple. That fun look and attitude has become Ellen’s calling card, whether she’s shooting a model, a musician or an actor.
“Often as a model, it’s like, be pretty and stand still – and that’s actually why it was exciting for me to go on the other side, because that’s what I was always told. But I wanted to jump around and do silly things,” she says. “When I started to take pictures that’s exactly what I asked the models I worked with. I said, ‘Don’t stand still. Jump around! Be silly! Live!’ Because I wanted to capture a piece of life. I don’t want to capture a posed moment. I want to capture something with emotion.”
To discover more of Bebe’s photography and her secret location in the woods, follow @bebeismyname on Instagram.
“I started taking silly self-portraits when I was a teen, but now I’m doing it with a passion,” says Bebe Mozz (@bebeismyname), a nurse and self-taught photographer from Witten, Germany. “Only in photography can I fully express myself and just be myself.”
While creating poetic self-portraits has a relaxing and meditative effect on Bebe’s mind, the process itself is a full body workout. Two years ago her camera’s remote broke, but she got used to the fact that she has to run back and forth between shots to manually push the release button. “I set 10 pictures in one shot, so I still have time to put my wig and costume on. And when my camera starts to beep I then start to run and pose,” Bebe explains. “Usually I get two good pictures out of 10.”
Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.
This weekend’s prompt was #WHPwindy, which asked participants to capture creative photos and videos of the wind. Every Monday we feature some of our favorite submissions from the project, but be sure to check out the rest here.
“Life is a question of angles and how you see things,” says French designer Ito Morabito, who goes by the name of Ora-Ito (@ora_ito). “Everything can have a beauty, it depends on the way you look at it. It’s a bit frustrating to just see one image, but you shouldn’t repeat the same image. I like it when you can give different views. It shouldn’t be linear.”
Ito, who designs everything from furniture to products to architecture to electronics, posts moments from his life in series of three, all conveying his philosophy of “simplexity.” “I think to make something that looks simple is very complex,” he explains, relating the idea to the art of classical dance. “When you see a dancer you don’t realize the work there is behind, it looks so fluid and natural that it’s quite impossible that between every movement there is years of work.”
Two years ago, Ito transformed the rooftop of the iconic apartment complex Cité Radieuse in Marseille into a collaborative art center, and now presents work from a talented contemporary artist there each summer. This year, MAMO (short for MArseille MOdulor @marseillemodulor) will showcase work from New York artist Dan Graham, inviting Instagrammers to document the space starting June 13. “Because it’s outside — where there is different light and reflections – every Instagrammer can show us the different angles and different vision in relation.”
“#hellomynameis Leo Sheng (@isupersheng). I’m 19 years old and a film student living in Michigan. I love movies. Like, seriously. I’ve always been drawn to visual creativity like photography and film, and sometimes music videos. It’s only recently that I’ve started to share some of my own pictures and while I know they’re pretty amateur, I love the concept of taking random snapshots from life even if it’s with a phone camera. I’m also proud to say that I wrote and directed my first short film and got to watch it on a big screen.
For the past year and half, my Instagram photos have been about my transition-filled life — graduating high school, starting college, making new connections. I’ve been working on finding a balance between which moments I ‘need’ to take pictures of, and which moments are meant to be remembered and appreciated without a camera. But, the most obvious theme of my page is my transition from female to male. For me, a picture really does say a thousand words.
I was recently invited by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) to be part of a Happy Hippie Foundation (@HappyHippieFdn) and Instagram portrait series. It was run and shot by Miley herself, and showcased stories of trans and gender-fluid Instagrammers from around the country. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been in a room with so much love, pride, and respect for everyone’s journeys. It was such a privilege to be included and I’m so humbled to be a part of something so special and beautiful. I hope that I can inspire those who have the ability to share their own stories to find their own voices.
I used to be afraid to share photos that I took, let alone pictures of myself from any period of my life. But, I’ve learned how powerful sharing can be whether it’s your story or just something that means a lot to you. My photos mean a lot to me — all of them. I share them without apologies. I love to see how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished. If there’s anything that the last few years have taught me, it’s that living an unapologetic existence is the most freeing thing you can do.”
For more colors, shapes and drawings, follow @thelmadibujos on Instagram.
(This interview was conducted in Spanish)
“I’d like the spectators to observe carefully the details on my paintings and drawings. I’d like them to see the glances, the suppressed smiles, what’s underneath the clothes or the textures,” says Thelma Lugo (@thelmadibujos), a Mexican artist who lives in McAllen, Texas.
Through her art, Thelma wants to reassure her national identity. “I love Mexico and its gorgeous colors, and I try to soak myself in every shape and every color so that you can feel my Mexican essence.”
In her work it’s easy to spot a mix of textures and materials. “A lot of my paintings keep little details to be discovered by the spectator and maybe they can find something that connects them to the piece. I also hope that they can find in the colors, the vibrant message of every character.”
Thelma usually paints faces that reflect her mood. “People say I draw myself, but I don’t see the resemblance,” she says. “I’ve done male figures but I always return to my female figures. Maybe it’s because I believe women are very strong.”