SX dropped his second EP 'Reasons' just before the weekend & to celebrate the release held a pop shop with the new merch & held a listening party with an impromptu performance of some of the new songs...spoilers: they bang.
1 – Tell us about yourself
Hello, My name is Jamie Drew better known as @jdshotyou I am a music photographer from the West Midlands, I shoot with a Canon 6D & have been lucky enough to have credited work appear in Q Magazine, Music Week, The Independent & Billboard.com, erm I went to college to study media & photography but dropped out and I shoot for one of the best music platforms around today at nationofbillions.com Our most recent set of cover stories “#0121TheRiseofBirmingham” were featured in Complex’s Highlights from the world of music journalism in 2017.
Personally, its always been more about the music & creativity than photography for me, I’m not a photography gear head, I can’t give you the correct terminology off the cuff & I don’t care if you use photoshop or lightroom. I don’t shoot to get hired by event companies or labels, I shoot for the artist on stage in hopes they like it, that’s it.
2 – Where did your journey with gig photography start?
I would get so tired looking at spreadsheets in my day job for around 40 hours every week that naturally I ended up on the internet googling my actual interests, I was about 18 somewhat of a late bloomer & still not sure what I really wanted to do in life, this was during the ‘blog era’ where any gatekeeper or artist had a blog and would share their interests, I recall seeing shots from Kanye West’s the glow in the dark tour, Drakes show at the House of Blues, The Weeknd’s first ever show in Toronto.
– although you had to have pretty niche interests to find something like that I wondered why the actual fans of the artist would never see them or why the artist themselves don’t use the images? I read a cover story on Complex one day titled ‘Project Runaway’ & I think I must have gone back to read it 7 or 8 times and then it hit me…’this is what I want to do’.
My girlfriend at the time pleaded with me to make a facebook page for my photography & eventually I agreed, starting out shooting for small indie blogs, the first show I requested to shoot was The Weeknd’s Kissland tour stop In Birmingham on November 24th 2013, I was the only photographer in the pit & he retweeted the article that it got so much traffic it temporarily broke the website. That’s how I began.
3 – In a world of ever changing technology, do you think it is important that gig photographers still shoot gigs?
I think its incredibly important to still allow us at the show, I read recently how Kendrick Lamar isn’t allowing press photographers on his ‘DAMN’ tour, Which obviously crushed my chances of shooting that but he’s putting on a real event with dancers, performers & pyrotechnics, he said it was because he wanted the show to remain a surprise but the very next line explained fans could shoot all the pictures they wanted on a mobile, which makes me believe its more an image protection issue…and if that is the case these photographers who have caused that issue, shouldn’t be photographers.
protect the artist.
But when he looks back in 10 years does he want the DAMN tour experience to be in twitter videos & Instagram highlights?
4 – What photographer/s do you look up to?
I love Greg Noire’s work, everytime I see his stuff it makes me mad that I’m not that good aha, He tends to shoot concerts like his own personal portrait session. I’ve been lucky enough to come into contact with many other great photographers during the journey though so please check out work from Chloe Newman, Daniela Monteiro, James Stride, Chloe Wilkinson, Zek Snaps, Shot by Sensei, Mukesh Mistry, Yaya Dirir.
All good photographers & even better people.
5 – What would be your dream gig and why?
Kanye West surround vision shows as I never went and it looked incredible stage design wise or since its a dream gig this would never happen but imagine if Drake did a run of shows where he just did the B Sides, all of the time stamp songs & ‘say whats real’ I’ve seen 10 Drake shows the only downside is he has so many hits he never gets to my favorite songs.
6 – What has been the biggest challenge in your gig photography journey?
Self belief....honestly believing in myself took the longest time and I think that was evident in how I was putting out my work, I would post 4 images in one day and then nothing for 4 weeks, I had no consistency with what I was doing I thought likes & views were the be all end all and I was shy to talk about photography outside of the internet because I didn’t know anyone else creative at the time & I was embarrassed to be around other photographers with expensive equipment when I was just walking around with my 1.8 50mm.
I had a tough talk with myself and realized If I kept doing what I was doing nothing was going to change, A magic life changing email wont arrive in my inbox one day & nobody believes in you, because you don’t even believe in you. One of my fears at that time was hearing ‘Well, you tried your best’, because I knew I wasn’t even trying my best so in order to say I tried my best I really had too, So I made a real effort to be more consistent I spoke with other photographers I hit up as many shows as they let me into, I spoke about what I wanted to do openly & it would happen, the more experience I had – the better things got.
Eventually I got noticed by the same figures I followed during ‘the blog era’ &I respected them so much if that they tell me I’m good at what I do then I believe them.
7 – What do you enjoy about gig photography?
It’s hard for me to word this the right way but I’ve never been particularly religious or loyal to one political party, I find they tend to get brought up in the news when something bad or in-just has happened most of the time, they always cause more problems than they solve to me. Live music I find is the opposite it only ever unites people – I see so much beauty in that when its done correctly, There’s usually somebody crying but it could be from a certain song that helped that person cope or a song reminds that person of somebody no longer here and without that show they may not have got the feeling out, I’ve seen people pass out when their favorite artist just walked out on stage, I’ve seen Chance the Rapper get 400 people to turn the person next to them and tell them they love them, even if its a complete stranger.
I’d rather photograph those more pretty but truthful moments of humanity than the uglier ones.
8 – If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
Two types of industry people I have met, one is the person with passion for the creativity & a love of music and the other is the ‘I just came to say I came’ type of person, please be the first kind.
I wish photographers weren’t bottom of the list when it comes to the order organisation, I’m not saying we should be top of the list just a little more thought of because when the gig ends, the people with the content from said show are the most important people, so why am I being contacted to shoot your show literally the day before or of? Why am I being told my name isn’t on the press list but all the guest list groupies are? It’s because our craft isn’t as respected as it once was, but everybody’s so quick to ask you for ‘their’ shots afterwards and forget your photo credit twice as fast.
9 – What is your hope for the future?
I hope one day I can walk out my house and not go back for months at a time, I want to live on the road, I want to wake up in a different city everyday and document everything, I want the tour life.
10 – What inspires you?
The feeling that hopefully some kid stuck at his or her desk at work or at school bored out of his or her mind, might see one of my photo articles and think ‘ahh, this is what i want to do’.
Dealing with overzealous security at the 4 Your Eyez Only tour & waiting around for main act J Cole at the O2 in London, fellow photographer danikm utters 'Ah... I love 'J.I.D' with a warm smile attached, I stand around and pretend to know who that is because shamefully I had never heard of him, upon shooting these images I realized how badly I was sleeping on this guy, based on the hard 808's & the energy the crowd were throwing back to him I thought I had 'J.I.D' pegged in my mind within 15 minutes, I painted him into the 'Lil Uzi Vert' box based on those factors, questioning how he even fit into my idea of the 'Dreamville' imprint... however it was only when I left the venue that I realized how wrong I was.
The live show set was clearly tailored to connect with the younger energetic 'turn up' crowd but the 'never story' project which I sat with on the long ride home, blew me away on my first listen (I'm still not over the beat switch on 'Never') - the storytelling introspective jams made me understand why Dreamville picked 'J.I.D' up immediately, the flows came in handfuls, the delivery is fresh, the songs about love don't feel tacked together and come across more genuine & honest than most R&B albums let alone hip hop projects these days.
Going from an unheard of J Cole signee to quickly becoming the most exciting & versatile artist on his roster to me, It took me one listen to become a fan 'J.I.D' & had I not have seen him warm up for J Cole I'm not sure I would have caught on...which is why I had to write this.
If you would like to view the main article on what happened next (and written by professionals) you can find it here: https://nationofbillions.com/here-stands-the-true-power-of-j-cole
Anywho heres a photoset:
Throwback post to Khalid performing at Dalston Roof Park in June 2017
I was lucky enough to be asked to appear on the second episode of CGUK talks, Shared a couple storys about the early days and how I kinda got started.