Interview: US PLACES’ Chloe Manickum on knowing her worth

Culture, Events, Interview

I love the whole different beauty and natural beauty – I’m not really keen to shoot people with Instagram eyebrows. I have nothing against it but that’s what I want to promote, what I find appealing and want to see more of.” Chloe Manickum is the owner and creator of Us Places a monthly club night held at Cassette Nine in Auckland Central. She’s also a photographer and creative director by day. We talk about how knowing your own self worth in the creative industry is a liberating feat, and once it is attained, a person becomes unstoppable.

CHLOE: I look at what they’re up to in the community and what they’re  bringing to the table, bringing to the world. I’m trying to get through this life thing while making as much positive impact now. Not just doing things to be cool or for money anymore – it’s so much bigger than that.

Photography is  – I didn’t even know I was good at it, I was just taking photos and then I was editing it and people were like ‘Oh that’s really cool‘ then one day I thought, I’m just going to try this thing out and my friends got on board and it just started snowballing.

It was super cool and now even my friends that have known me for a while know me as Chloe the photographer and I find that so cool like, ‘ Okay, that’s part of my identifier.'”

So that’s what I’m up to and just trying to build on it trying to create beautiful images of people just in the moment, in their element showcasing them and also trying to see myself through them. When people are like ‘Oh my god, I love the photos’ or ‘I didn’t know that was me’ I’m like, ‘Okay, my mission is complete’ you know, ‘I did it’. People acknowledging that now is so, so cool.

SERUM: Sort of like a signature?

CHLOE: Yeah, like my little impact on the world. It’s pretty cool to show life through my eyes especially because I’m not  a typical girl or haven’t been through like normality, so to show that disorder and craziness and uniqueness and sometimes what everyone is not doing that’s cool too. It’s so hard to be that person today to just stand in yourself and be like I’m cool, I’m loving I’m kind, I’m caring, I’m smart, I’m intelligent, I’m creative, I’m artsy I’m…whatever you know but to truly believe it, it’s pretty hard for people these days.

SERUM: Do you think, that’s potentially improving though in Auckland?

CHLOE: Absolutely, well I know for me and who I’m around everyone’s owning their stuff and there’s definitely a shift and I can see the fake aren’t lit anymore – genuine, authenticity that’s all a seller. You don’t really need to sell that you know it sells itself and it’s so easy to spot. The energy is just so infectious for someone who loves themselves and is doing it for the right reasons. You can just feel people with agendas so easily now and I feel like they’re just getting left behind and it’s everywhere it’s like in all the cliques or groups or whatever and I think that’s really awesome because it’s like yeah, we’re not tolerating it anymore.

SERUM: You would have had to wade a bit of that starting out right?

CHLOE: Little things when you starting out you now like not even giving me photo cred type thing like come on I didn’t charge you or anything for it like you need the content – it’s that common decency thing.

SERUM: How would you say those experiences shaped you as a creative and how would you describe where you at now?

CHLOE: It definitely taught me business is business  even when you’re with your friends business is business and people who respect that are people that I wanna work with. Even little things like cancelling on you, it’s like some of us are really out here putting our time and effort into it and the shoot is not just the time that we shoot it’s also preparing everything for it, getting everyone together  – all those sort of things and when you realise how much goes into it just for that one shot – I think it’s a whole new appreciation of it.

To have people that are like-minded and appreciate punctuality, also being open-minded and able to collaborate with other people, being a team – those are all so important to make beautiful images or content or share  stuff.

I learned how to filter through the clout chasers, it took a lot to be like actually I’m not going to charge you for my time I’m going to charge you for my worth because I know what it is and I know what I’m bringing to the table.

I feel like once I was like that in myself, I attracted a lot of people who appreciated that. I definitely believe if I’m not up to a shoot or something I just know the pictures aren’t going to be good and if I’m not into the person or something I think why even do it? I’d rather just focus on people who share a common goal or mindset.  

SERUM: With everything that’s happening now within Auckland’s creative community Us Places is definitely a strong presence for people to see positive change being implemented. What’s the Us Places’ mission?

CHLOE: I was given an opportunity with Cassette Nine to host DJ nights once a month so I was like let’s find the cool bedroom DJ’s and the kids who have the drive and ambition and the talent and let’s give them the platform lets show that’s it’s not just a select few that can represent New Zealand, they’re everywhere – on the streets so fashion forward and smart and creative and crazy and its mind-blowing. It’s like I wanna be associated with you, you know, you got that drive it’s fresh it’s new and when they come and perform they’re like ‘Oh my god this is my first show’ and there’s a packed-out crowd for them and people are bopping even though they don’t know their music; it’s just so fulfilling to see them in their element.

 I’m feel like this is why I did this and also to collab with them and get to know them. I want to be a part of the community and I love that I can give this opportunity to people. Whoever does want to [perform] please let me know, I have this and it’s not just for my group or my friends it’s for everybody – it’s not just a hip hop thing if you love what you do and you’re actually doing it , yeah hit me up let’s make it happen.

Check out the next US PLACES gig:

Review: Robin Fernando Presents Run The Jewels, Earl Sweatshirt & Danny Brown

Editorial, Events, Review

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“Y’all ready to fuck with the kid?” Earl Sweatshirt strolls out onto the James Cabaret stage in Wellington. The masses are already hyped up from Danny Brown’s set prior, so they ignite again. There is something to be said about clever promoters who bring artists when they are peaking in their cycle. The energy is better; the excitement, rawer; the show — a ‘wild as fuck’ success.

Robin Fernando presents Run The Jewels, Danny Brown & Earl Sweatshirt was one of these shows. Off the back of the Laneways Festival, happy Wellingtonians who couldn’t mission to Auckland or take time off work were treated to hip hop acts currently in their prime. “The king of all side shows” boasted the Facebook event..but then it isn’t boasting if you deliver, and that they did.

Run The Jewels, made up of previously solo artists Killer Mike and El-P, are an uncanny pair. However, when their flows lock into the beat, especially when they performed ‘Run The Jewels’ and their DJ let loose, scratching, it was cold. “Thank you for letting us make a living as rappers,” El-P said.

“This has actually been a good show Wellington, we WILL be back.”

El-P knows what’s up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADanny Brown cruises on stage.“Hi. I’m Daniel.” He giggles. Oh my God. I heart this man. Gap toothed and frizzy haired, speaking with a slurr — he’s an indie-rap-God. ‘Other’ kids from all sorts of backgrounds were in house, turnt to the nines; eager to fuck with him. Performing tracks mainly off his latest album ‘Old’, it doesn’t surprise me that it was Danny Brown’s set that had me making a new friend that night, but not before fighting with him first:

Rapping ALL the words to DB’s tracks, something about my high tendency, to bounce my head, instead of jump up and down ruggedly, seriously irritated this fulla standing next to me. “Do you only know like five Danny Brown songs or something?” He yelled at me. I gave him a look like ‘fuck you’ and turned back to Danny. He kept going, but after one too many ‘bruh bruh’s’ yelled in my ear I finally asked this asshole what his problem was.

“Actually, my favourite song is Radio Song but he’s not going to play that tonight is he?”

‘Oh shit’. The look on his face flipped. “Is that really your favourite song?” He asked. I gave him a look like ‘SO’?!

“Nah, he won’t play that tonight,” he agreed.

“But do you want to know what the best verse is?” I ask…”His verse on Terrorist Threats with Ab Soul.”

Now we’re friends. As we bounced to DB, my new friend asks me to please understand he’d followed Danny to Laneways in Auckland and back down to Wellington (where he lives). “Look,” he shows me on his phone, “he even re-tweeted me.” After this, I don’t doubt that he is a huge fan, I’ll even say he’s a bigger fan than me. I definitely don’t know every verse and every ad-lib. He tells me more, “I’ve been surrounded by hipsters since yesterday…Fuck Hipsters! I even drove here from Laneways. And then you come and just stand in my spot..but XXX is the best album aye?”

Smokin & Drinkin comes on. It was like this:

Earl Sweatshirt. It’s safe to say New Zealand love Odd Future. ‘Earl Sweatshirt is just the man’ a 17-year-old who got caught lying about his age whilst using a fake ID told me after the show. “I mean I was keen to see Danny Brown, but my girlfriend’s like in love with Earl Sweatshirt.”

“Y’all motherfuckers know who I am?” Domo Genesis from Odd Future beams over his microphone. He has a good smile. The crowd were elated to see him— clearly they did. Looking down into the moshers from my rail, clusters of people below were sending smoke signals into the air; mixed in with sweat, it turned into condensation on the walls and ceiling, one of the homies mentioned he felt it drip onto his face. Errr. My friend and I followed the S O S seeming signals down into the mass of hipsters (shout outs to Tyler King). In real life, Earl Sweatshirt really does look like a young, old man — he’s not joking when he says so in interviews. His set was a showcase of where modern-day hip hop gets weird. But traditional hip hop heads and hipster fans were all there, together, getting down. If you were looking for an example of what the genre of Hip Hop is in 2014, this is it. Content wise, the music is still rugged and stereotypically ‘wrong’ and it poses the question, if y’all love this, then why don’t you love YG? As a crew, Odd Future have certainly nailed their market perfectly; with a few seasons of ‘nail’ left to keep banging on the head; it is their perfectly nonchalant, ‘C B F’ way of doing things which seems to have the youth enthralled. “Too black for the white kids and too white for the blacks, from honour role to cracking locks up off them bicycle racks,” Earl raps. He opens the door for EVERYONE to WANT to be at his show, allowing numbers to speak for themselves. Shout outs to Robin Fernando for making this happen. Shout outs to Laneways for having WDYFILWHH. Epic show.

` OG overall vox pop in the girl’s toilets — Laetitia, “These used to be my mums!”

Review: Gravy Plays Biggie — Homogenised ‘Hip Hop’

Events, Rap, Review

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Homogenised definition: ‘Subject [a substance] to a process in which the fat droplets are emulsified and the cream does not separate’.

Jumping on the ‘Gravy’ train Biggie Smalls created in the 90’s, ‘Notorious’ rapper Gravy is in New Zealand performing as Biggie for $35 a ticket. He is in Auckland tonight, but beware, Gravy feels like an imposter feeding off the phat Biggie built in the 90’s.

Promised a party Biggie would have been proud of, punters packed into Bodega on a quiet Tuesday night ready to party.

Young cats who’d clearly seen Notorious [the movie], wearing COMMES de FUCKDOWN T-Shirts, Timbos and RED lipstick were star struck at the sight of Gravy.

‘Maybe they think he IS Biggie’ my flatmate suggested. I braced myself for what felt like a heartbreaking blow to come.

And it was. For someone who’s loved Hip Hop since before the real Biggie got shot I tried not to cry. But my face said it all.

“Bullshit and party, bullshit and party”, Gravy chanted. I found myself at the back with Swerv1 and Juse1 screaming ‘It’s party and bullshit you fucken asshole.’

Now I was angry. There could be no way this fulla would get away with this in Brooklyn. It’s insulting they sent him to little old Wellington and tried to sell him as ‘real Hip Hop’.

I am not a Diddy fan but I’d enjoy seeing him ‘mind fuck’ Gravy into some manners. At least sue his ass.

“I’m gonna go tell him he’s whack,” Juse told Swerv. Suddenly my anger subsided and there was a silver lining.

Man no offense to the promoters but…SERIOUSLY?

Rapping, not even to instrumentals, but over Biggie tracks, Gravy had the club scouted for young ‘hot’ girls to be taken downstairs pre-show. More concerned about girls who thought he was the real deal,  he couldn’t even rap whole verses, allowing the track to carry him through the mess.

Wellington is better than this. This shit should not happen again.

Next time just invest in a Biggie hologram. Straight up.

Event: NOTORIOUS B.I.G Tribute ft JAMAL “GRAVY” WOOLARD

Events, Gigs, News

50 inch screen, money green leather sofa 
Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur 
Phone bill about two G’s flat 
No need to worry, my accountant handles that 
And my whole crew is loungin’ 
Celebratin’ every day, no more public housin

— Christopher Wallace

Tomorrow Jamal “Gravy” Woolard, the guy that acted as Christopher Wallace in the biographical film Notorious, will be in Wellington. Also a rapper, Woolard aka Gravy will be throwing a party ” in the style that Biggie would have wanted it, with all the greatest hits, crowd interaction, and vibe.” Local acts Times x Two, Imagine This and D-Rail are set to open, so party times are definitely expected. Tickets can be purchased from DASH TICKETS.

Show is Tuesday October 15th at Bodega.

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