BEING A FAN WITH PHOTOGRAPHER ALICE BAXLEY
And we’re live, from the epicenter of all that is holy (sadly via email, it’s 2019). Please picture disposable cameras, film rolls waiting to be developed and polaroid piles of treasured moments. If it’s a happy concert memory, Alice Baxley was probably there. She’s a photographer and creative director, she’s here to document your favorite band while they’re on tour and just generally, to kick ass.
Alice was born in Japan, lived in Hawaii and is now located in LA. One day she picked up a camera and that was it. You should go see for yourself here!!!
YOU’VE ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT BEING ALMOST OBSESSIVE WITH TAKING PHOTOS, ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING A FAN - IT HAS TO BE IN THE JOB DESCRIPTION. HOW DID YOU BECOME A FAN? WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF MUSIC?
My earliest memory of music is probably my mom listening to Jackson Browne when I was in elementary school. My parents are religious so I also listen to a lot of church music. For my entire high school years, we attended a church with an insane gospel choir. It was like going to a concert every Sunday. They were highly skilled studio players and could play for literally hours. Sometimes church would go on for like 3-4 hours. I just remembered that type of dedication to a craft and put that in my cliff notes.
I didn’t get into photography till I was maybe 16. I didn’t really have access to the internet that much back then so I couldn’t just look up and learn about photographers. I had to catch a bus to the library and seek out a book if I wanted to learn lol. I taught myself how to use a camera and then became obsessed with just taking photos ever since. I would take my camera anywhere.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED ABOUT LA SINCE YOU FIRST GOT THERE?
Hmmm I don’t know if there’s been too drastic of a change since I’ve moved here but I can definitely say I’ve changed a lot. I was young and very excited about being in a new city. Growing up in Hawaii, not a lot of bands came through there unless they were huge pop stars so I sought out to see as many shows as I could and/or going to as many museums, art shows and house parties. It was all new to me and I was very broke all the time haha but I had such a hunger to seek out what I’ve been missing out on. Now that I’m older I enjoy being home a lot more. I’ve also realized I’ve spent most of my life not taking care of my body, so I’m on a self-care kick now. Got to make up for lost time.
WHILE WORKING, WERE THERE TIMES YOU FELT LIKE YOU WEREN’T TAKEN SERIOUSLY BECAUSE OF BEING A WOMAN?
Oh sure. I still do. Not as bad as before. When I first started, there just weren’t that many women in the photo pit. I didn’t know any other girls who were doing what I was doing – going on tour with a bunch of boys. I’ve been asked whose boyfriend I was by guys who worked at the venues. I was asked by someone who worked at a radio station, why I was there and what my purpose was in a very condescending way. I was already insecure at the time so it used to really piss me off but now I just laugh it off. I’m pretty confident in who I am and what I do and why I’m there, so who cares what some idiot thinks. The jokes on them because I get to do what I love and sometimes get paid for it.
THREE OF YOUR ARTISTIC HEROES?
One of the first artists that really impacted me is Hayao Miyazaki. He did all the studio Ghibli films that I grew up watching when I was a kid. His stories are amazing and the protagonists of his movies are usually young strong women conquering their difficulties in one way or another. That really spoke to me at a young age.
Yayoi Kusama is another artist hero of mine hailing from my motherland. My obsession with color comes from looking at her paintings. She’s incredible.
Lastly, Glen E. Friedman is a music and skate photographer I really admire. He got his start early teens snapping skateboarding pics for fun and went on to photograph some prolific bands and artists. Incredible portraits of The Beastie Boys and Fugazi.
WHAT HAS HELPED YOU DEVELOP YOUR OWN INDIVIDUAL STYLE?
I’m not really aware I have a style but I guess if I do it’s from who I am and just what I like. I didn’t set out to have a specific style. My formative years were in the 90s so I’m influenced by the photos I saw when I was a teenager. I like film because it’s tangible and takes me back to taping up photos in my locker. I think just owning who you are, where you came from and what things you are passionate about help shape your style.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU LEARNED AFTER COLLABORATING WITH SO MANY PEOPLE?
I think letting go of my ego and control. When you work with other people, you leave all that bullshit at the door and try and make something you both love. I think it’s also taught me so much about respect and communication. Both things are crucial.
FAVORITE MUSIC YOU’VE BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY?
Post Malone lol I like him sue me. I like that he’s making his own path. He’s unique and so comfortable being himself and I love that. Everyone also raves about how nice he is. So, there’s that.
P22, this punk band from LA, but they don’t really play anymore and I don’t know anything about them other than their bandcamp. I have their cassette. They’ve got Pixies guitar tones with Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon vocals. Google their bandcamp. It’s so good!
Lastly, I’m listening to Kamaiya. She’s an Oakland based rapper and her sound is 90s but also current. She’s rad. When I’m at the studio working late at night editing photos, I crank her up.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE MIND PALACE?
Mind Palace is a creative studio that’s owned by myself, my husband & music video director Ryan Baxley and our long-time collaborator, Brandon Schwartzel from FIDLAR, who does set design. We rent out the studio but we also produce content for bands and brands. It’s also a place for our friends to come make things. Whatever that might be. A video, screen printing shirts - I want to build a community where collaboration is encouraged.
HOW CAN ONE BALANCE WORK + MENTAL HEALTH?
I think putting self-care first has changed my life. I got sober almost 3 years ago so that has helped me a lot. I also started exercising regularly for the first time in my life and that has balanced me out. Got to get those endorphins kicking in. It’s hard to give advice on it because everyone is so different. I also don’t have it figured out. I took a look at my life and realized I was way more emotionally imbalanced when I was drinking so I cut that out and now I’m taking care of my body. I do yoga to practice meditation and keep clinging to positive thoughts. It gets hard sometimes but when the depression kicks I try my best to do everything I can naturally to remedy it and so far, it’s been working for me.
THREE FEMALE ARTISTS WE SHOULD ALL CHECK OUT?
Ami Komai – she’s the editor of Bright Lite magazine. A preteen to teen magazine. She’s an artist to me because she’s creating a platform for younger girls. She also writes, books interviews and is continuously pushing for a cool non-ad, genuine content. She’s a badass. Check out her magazine. It’s inspiring.
Check out fashion designer Judith aka Rose Cut Clothing. She makes custom suits for Post Malone, Ty Segall and a lot of other artists. Her work is truly amazing. She does a mix of chain stitching and applique work. Like a genius with a sewing machine. She made me a custom suit and I literally cried.
Dee Dee is a transgender tattoo artist from Los Angeles. Check out her tattoos @fairypokes. She plays in a punk band No parents as well and is doing tattoos while the band is on tour.
SOME ENCOURAGING WORDS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO START SHOOTING FILM?
Don’t do it. Haha it’s so expensive but if you truly want to do it, make each shot count! I would really recommend taking a class somewhere because you’ll learn the basics and you’ll usually also have access to a photo lab and you can develop your own film for free. I used to spend HOURS at the photo lab experimenting and learning. Get in there and put in the time.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
RELAX. Enjoy the journey and don’t be so focused on worrying about things you can’t control.