Archive for October, 2012

Fallen Superheroes: The Photo Shoot You Wish You Were In?

You’ve probably thought about what powers you would have as a superhero. Extraordinary strength, speed, psychic powers? Hell, I’ll take what I can get – even Ma-Ti’s heart power in Captain Planet. It wasn’t until leafing through Fallen Superheroes though that I wish I had suited up as my own unique superhero and been shot in all my imperfection.

Fallen Superheroes cover

Fallen Superheroes is a photography book showing us the awkward, vulnerable and less glamorous side to failed superheroes. Artie from The Adventures of Pete & Pete would fit in perfectly. They are heroes with special healing powers emanating from over-sized feet. Heroes too self-conscious to fight crime when gum is stuck to their boots.

Each sesh of this project yielded several keeper photos and is accompanied by captions in which the authors play photo association (the caption is the first thing that came to mind when looking at the photo) or tell a unique backstory that was dreamt up during the shoot.The photography is impressive. One might assume that a studio or heavy editing was involved, but all photographs are really just the work of lighting master Eric Curtis using strobe lights and our favorite star with minimal color correction and touch-ups.

Fallen Superheroes

Fallen Superheroes

This is the type of coffee table book that will catch your friends’ eyes and cause conversation to spiral off into spontaneity. But aside from showing off to pals, I found it fascinating to revisit how this project was created (in the introduction) after going through the entire series. It creates a whole new appreciation for the project and had me wishing Hollywood would put the common superheroes to rest and concentrate on a film about these guys and gals.

Do-Tell: Robert Raths, Erased Tapes Records

Robert Raths, founder of Erased Tapes, is a gentleman. A few nights ago, I was sitting across from him at a restaurant in London, eating pasta and drinking wine, while he told the table beautiful stories about artists who are obsessed with coffee and long bumpy bus rides across Europe. And I was feeling really lucky, not only because we were drinking good wine, but because Robert’s the type of guy who inspires you to cultivate your passion and follow through on what makes you want to wake up each morning.

Robert’s got one of the best ears in the industry. Since 2007, he’s built a label specializing in a niche genre of music so beautiful it’ll make you want to cry. He’s constructed a home previously unavailable for innovative and imaginative ambient musicians, now a goofy little family boasting artists such as Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. Back in the day, this sort of music didn’t really seem to have a place in the scene. Now, with Erased Tapes, they’re touring the world. Together, his label is crossing boundaries between the traditional and the contemporary, constructing a constant dialogue between what they neatly describe as the opposite poles of digital and analogue.

I sat down with Robert to ask our traditional three Do-Tell questions right before the second to last show of his label’s 5th year anniversary tour. We talked about what it’s like to work your love in an industry that’s always on the move…

So, what inspires you?
Life. I mean, since you’re only asking three questions I should probably say more, no? [Laughs] I guess just waking up and having 24 hours to spend is enough inspiration. I just think life is great. It’s a gift.

What’s keeping you busy lately?
Lately? Well, I’m on tour so looking after 14 artists on a sleeper bus with my copilot Sofia. Making sure that everyone is in the right place before the show, during the show, and after the show. And things like eating dinner with new friends. You know, I like meeting as many people as possible that we’ve previously only met by e-mail. I like to combine things when I’m on tour. So I wouldn’t just go to meet [“the press” or the audience] – I go on tour to meet people who inspire me, people who inspire us as a label back. Plus, it’s cost effective for me to go on tour like this because then the artists don’t have to pay for a merch guy…

What are you excited about?
Excited about? Whew. The next 5 years!

I’m excited about spending more time in America actually. About waking up in my own bed again after tour. I’m excited about going to Istanbul, the next stop on our tour. I’ve never been there and it’s the climax of the adventure. We thought London would be a great way to end it, but Istanbul is even greater. London’s our home, so we’re proud to be at Hackney Empire tonight, but I think it’s even more awesome to see how far music can travel. From London to Prague to Istanbul…

Robert Raths and his tattoo

Bonus question since I’m looking at your tattoo. It says “live or die but for the band” – what’s that mean to you?
Back when I founded Erased Tapes, it was a time when I made music for myself. But the meaning is universal. To me, as long as there’s a reason to wake up in the morning – and you share that reason with people close to you – then I think life is better than when you’re by yourself. So it doesn’t matter if you live or die, as long as you do it for you and the people around you. In that point in time it was the band, but now it’s the label. But now it also applies to my family, you know, my gang. [Smiles]

You can find out more about Robert and his label on the Erased Tapes website. Below you can watch a short video documenting their 5th year anniversary.

* First photo via The Monograph

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Swing Table makes meetings merry.

Duffy London began in a kitchen, so it’s only suiting that they make tables now. It’s an idea-based company that designs products that makes life-enhancing, environmentally friendly products. Not, as they say, for the feel good factor or to jump on the bandwagon, but because it makes practical sense. They’ve recently come up with the Swing Table, a four-poster table that suspends eight chairs from its frame. Sign here please? Oh, let me just swing that over to you. A seriously fun idea to try and spice up those dull dinner conversations or add a little movement to the boring business meeting. I’m still not convinced how practical it’d be – but who needs practical nowadays? You can peruse Duffy’s full product line on their website.

Hat tip, design milk.

Made by Hand shows you the hands behind the handmade.

I love finding beautiful and inspiring projects that focus on the nitty gritty, that poetry in what some consider the prosaic. Made by Hand is a relatively new short film series that was created out of the belief that “the things we collect, consume, use, and share are part of who we are as individuals.” Their films explore where things came from, celebrating the people behind the work and the process in which goods are made. Each short aims to promote local and sustainable goods, while focusing on the human effort put behind the craft itself. Washed in black and white, it’s perfectly aligned to our motto of “Love your work, work your love” in that it’s a glimpse into the life of those who truly love their craft. You can watch one of my favorites, The Distiller, below. Check out their site for the entire collection of videos. All you cycling fans may want to stay tuned for their next film… The Bike Maker.

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