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:

TRAVEL DIARIES: LIBBY & THE ORANG ASLI OF MALAYSIA

Culture, Interview, Video

Orang Asli means original people” Libby tells me over a morning coffee in the only open cafe we can find over Christmas/New Years of 2018 in Mangawhai, New Zealand. She has just returned from a one year trip to Malaysia. Predominantly a resident of England, Libby has ties to New Zealand after attending high school in Cambridge for a few years. She is a photographer, visual artist, traveler and poet. While visiting Gua Musang in the Kelantan region she unexpectedly set out on a photo journalism trip deep into the Malaysian jungle, which is one of the oldest in the world. “At the time I was just hanging about [Kuala Lumpur] with my artist friends and then the news kind of grabbed me, the logging that was happening at the time. I wanted – just to know more.”

Libby kept a travel diary documenting her experience with the indigenous from her mother’s homeland, Malaysia. It would turn out to be a magical trip, a once in a lifetime experience she won’t forget. Logging photos of her experience, the post is a nostalgic throwback and a beautiful account of a spiritual experience that I fully recommend!

EXCERPT FROM LIBBY’S TRAVEL BLOG:

“The sacred site we were soon to visit is a large cave, further into the jungle, called Gua Janggut. The hallowed space is revered, not only by the Temiar but also the Negrito community, another Orang Asli group that live within the area. They speak a separate language known as Mendriq, and there are about 220 of them left, making this a very endangered language. Before heading to the cave, we visited the Mendriq village and we received another blessing from their local elder in order to enter. They too, used a Tualang candle. “

Check out the rest of her diary HERE.

BATU BANG – ‘RED RUBBLE’ Photo by Libby.

EXCERPTS CONTINUED:

“There are various gateways named here; Pintu Raso, Pintu Sindat, Pintu Haluan, Pintu Kong connecting to the other worlds. It was a quiet and potent sensation simply being in this space. Although I was given permission to take photographs here, it almost felt wrong. Only the Shaman can enter the deepest parts of the cave.”

” The earth here is a deep and vibrant red. When it floods, it’s like blood. The Temiar referred to the floods that abolished their housing and brought disaster to the whole of the Kelantan region as the infamous Bah Merah (red floods). As trees are cut, they no longer soak up the rainfall. Silt and other debris is carried downstream by the flow of rainwater into the rivers. Eventually the rivers fill with silt and burst their banks. The ‘killer’ Bah Merah of 2014 rose thirty meters above the level of the river. “

LIBBY HAS PRINTS FOR SALE ON HER WEBSITE.

“Much like the beliefs of the Temiar, the Mendriq also explained that if the construction of the hydroelectric dam was to continue, flooding over Gua Janggut, terrible consequences would take place as the balance of nature is disturbed further and the forest spirits are angered,” Libby writes.

  At the beginning of 2019 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke in the session Safeguarding Our Planet alongside broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, Ardern was asked by former US Vice-President Al Gore what she would say to world leaders who don’t believe the climate crisis is real.

She replied:

“I wonder whether or not I would say anything or if I would just show them something,” she said. “It only takes a trip to the Pacific to see that climate change isn’t a hypothetical, and you don’t have to know anything about the science … to have someone from the Pacific island nations take you to a place they used to play as a child on the coast and show you where they used to stand and where the water now rises.”

 

East Asia is another area of the world feeling the affects of climate change.
In the past year alone there were typhoons in Japan and East Asia, flooding in Japan and China and drought in Central Europe. Commercial logging and deforestation on the continent contributes heavily to this damage.

Libby writes:

“Malaysia has one of the world’s highest deforestation rates. These are valuable ecosystems and are the most ancient and beautiful, tropical forests I’ve ever seen. We must fight this before it is too late. As Orang Asli are displaced from their land because of logging, they are abject to poverty. The once clear river water is now polluted and floods will only worsen. We must learn from the native people and also become guardians of the forest and it’s creatures. Soon, all we will have are these fake paintings, towering over like imprints of a forgotten past.

“As the shape of the Malaysian jungle shifts, so do these cultures.

I am fascinated to see how their values take form in the moving landscape of their lives.”

On January 18th 2019 Reuters reported:

In a first, Malaysia sues state government for infringing land rights of indigenous people

In an ancient area of the world, now functioning amidst a quietly raging money machine intertwined with corruption, there is hope that although indigenous people and their values have been compromised within these societal ‘upgrades’, the now-visibly damaging effects on the earth by these processes, can be restored or at least healed using the values of the very people in which industrial destruction has disregarded. Even in the face of a) extinction for animals and b) genocide for people. Although it is widely accepted among indigenous and other minority cultures, when sacred sites and ancient graves are destroyed for example, there’s nothing that can rectify some spiritual damage, simultaneously it is clear the only way to survive harmoniously is to have a conversation and gain an understanding in order to work together going forward. It is obvious that the earth as a vessel is angry with humanity in its current state, changes must be made. Share some of Libby’s journey into the Malaysian jungle and her experience with the Orang Asli or ‘original people’ below:

Follow Libby on Instagram.

And check out her art on her Website.

BTS SHOTS:

PHOTOGRAPHY: FEVER HOTEL – CHECK IN WITH ASHLEY CHURCH

Culture, Interview, Threads


Photographer and creative director Ashley Church caught up with S E R U M over email for chats about her latest Exhibition ‘You Give Me Fever’ which is on at Hunters & Collectors in Wellington this February. We talk about her working relationship with dear friend and true artist Xoe Hall – when these two creative forces combine they become Fever Hotel, specialising in clothing design, photography and styling which you can check out HERE. We also talk about the legacy Hunters & Collectors has made for Wellington fashion.


SERUM: How did Fever Hotel come about?


A: We had been collaborating for years, Xoe and I would often photograph Xoe’s rad clothing she would make or decorate. When we got over submitting our work to other publications… we decided fuck it, we’ll make a blog and publish ourselves.

Ashley Church & Xoe Hall are Fever Hotel.


SERUM: Who are Fever Hotel?

A: Ashley Church & Xoe Hall.


SERUM: What does Fever Hotel do?


A: We do whatever inspires us at the time. But mostly it’s Xoe decorating second skins with me photographing them how we want to and we get our friends to model for us. We also feature artists work & have vacancies for artistic submissions!


SERUM: Is Fever Hotel you’re main hustle or side hustle?


A: Side hustle, not really a hustle though, it’s chill. We do what we want when we want to, and do our best to disregard social media pressures or norms.

Photo by Ash Church, Dinosaurtoast


SERUM: How would you describe your photographic style?


A: A bit sassy, a bit sexy and I am obsessed with eye popping colours and shooting against the grain. And I love juxtaposition.


SERUM: What other jobs/creative passions do you work on?


A: My own thang Dinosaurtoast, which is photography & creative direction and me and my partner recently bought a house, so a lot of house renos too!


SERUM: What have been some of your favourite or more memorable projects to date?


A: Such a hard question, because I love all our collabs for FH, every one of them is different!! Both Part 1 & 2 of the Heartbreak Double Feature – we went all out with lighting, set design and everything. They were rad to shoot and had us punching the air in excitement.

Photo by Ash Church, Dinosaurtoast.

SERUM: What is it about working with Xoe that you would say makes Fever Hotel special to you?


A: Fever Hotel can only happen when Xoe and I work on shit together, because of the way we collaborate, ideas just come magically and sporadically. That’s the beauty of Fever Hotel. We do what we want, when we’re in the mood. I think we don’t try to force anything, if it feels right it feels right and we know. So if your working on something and it feels right, keep going!

“You Give Me Fever” exhibition on until end of Feb 2019 at Hunters & Collectors.


SERUM: How would you describe what Hunters & Collectors means to Wellington city and also the connection between H&C and Fever Hotel?


A: Hunters has been around since before I was born, it’s an integral part of Cuba Street & Wellington cities fashion history. Hunters as been helping people express themselves for years via fashion! Chrissy and Charlotte, at Hunters, have always supported Fever Hotel – letting us do window displays, Xoe has hand painted their stairwell with a rad dragon and has many hand decorated items for sale through the shop! Love the collaboration and inclusivity for artists and especially now there is an exhibition space upstairs!


SERUM: What are your top 3 creative inspirations that give you fever right now?


A: Insanely bright colours, neons mostly. And I love when shit matches.

Glitter, forever glitter.

And anything a little bit weird, over the top, and 80s.


SERUM: What are some projects Fever Hotel are looking forward to in 2019?


A: Right at this moment – our You Give Me Fever Exhibition… Xoe’s got heaps on the go at the moment, and I’ve got some rad ideas for photoshoots! Will keep you posted!


SERUM: Describe a work day in the life of Ash.


A: I get up have my breaky, hang out with my 2 pups and husband. Drive 10 mins down the road to work, TeacherTalk, where I am a marketing gal! Xoe and I work at TeacherTalk together! I get as much done as I can. Head home, walk up a hill in Porirua, if I’m feeling creative I’ll work on a project, or plan my next idea / shoot by making a moodboard on Pinterest! And usually end up reading a good book and going to sleep waaay too late.


SERUM: What are some things you do to keep inspired as a creative professional?


A: Hang out with other artist friends. I give myself space to come up with new ideas – I don’t force it. Listen to music, go to gigs and watch music videos! I also watch films and read a lot. I also do things for my well being, like hangin’ out in nature!

Follow Ash on Instagram.

There are still a few limited edition framed prints available for purchase. You can DM her dtisyourfriend@gmail.com if your interested.

T H R E A D S: JETT NICHOL DEFINES THE BAG

Interview, Threads

These holidays 22-year-old designer and personal stylist Jett Nichol is dropping some golden knowledge and then taking a one way trip to the United States. It’s his dream to intern for Kanye West. “Me and Kanye are going to be friends one day” he tells me, and somehow, the intelligent part of me can picture it. Jett has a confidence about him, he’s passionate, articulate and has a work ethic to aspire to. Since he moved to Auckland two years ago from Taradale, Hawke’s Bay he’s been flipping burgers for 80 hours a week, at a joint called Better Burger. This year he’s managed to save enough money to buy a Rolex and a new pair of Rick Owens for ‘his bag’. He explains:

“There’s a thing called ‘the bag’ which they mention in hip hop – they’re not talking about money they’re talking about God. Straight up, they’re talking about that feeling in your chest when everything is going correctly and you understand that the stars align sometimes – it’s when you get that feeling in your stomach.

Plans to fill his bag include spending downtime with girlfriend Poppy and swimming and sitting in a Japanese sauna. Having researched everything down to his suitcase when preparing for his trip, to me, it’s a reflection of the designer in him. After Japan the plan is to head to the States solo. “Either New York or LA, I might flip a coin or some shit. Some rooms, you can only get into alone,” he explains. In this interview we talk about the right way to ‘get clout’, styling rappers and having the confidence to recognise your own greatness. “Kanye’s the one guy I wanna work for. Designer’s have always got apprentices. Masters like Yves St Laurent was the apprentice of Dior… My friend Taylor Burn from Auckland though is now Virgil [Abloh’s] personal assistant.”


SERUM: Isn’t it incredible what Kiwis can do these days?

J: Crazy. Kids here are different. There’s actually a demand now, it’s building really fast.

SERUM: Yeah we’ve got so much talent here, like a little concentrated island/country.

J: Cause we’re so friendly. Obviously there’s exceptions but I think we admire the culture of whatever we wanna way too hard. We’re fans but since we’re so far away we get a misconstrued idea of all of it and we end up putting a spin on it into our own shit, the kids here are so different, we’re fire as.

SERUM: Describe what you’re style’s like?

J: Bold, bright, but it’s equally as dark. I don’t know it’s just bold without being dramatic or offensive, like cartoonish I guess. I like big letters, big colours, a lot of textured fabrics, shit you ain’t gonna find in AS Colour.

Shirt designed and made by Jett.


SERUM: Where do you shop?

J: I actually don’t. Last place I shopped was at Zambesi and that was probably like mid to end of last year. I bought some Margiela and some Rick Owen shoes. I don’t like shopping man, there’s so much shit product. When I buy something I have to do a lot of research. I started looking into best suitcases to buy and they were all shit and so dumb. I was like ‘How could I have this? This doesn’t represent me in no way’, so I bought a $300 suitcase, rimowa, aluminum, it’s fucking hard. I like minimal utilitarian products and the best of it. I feel like Rick Owens makes the best shoes in the world. I like to buy really little of high quality things. If I was a girl I would not be touching Glassons or anything.

SERUM: Fast fashion is a big fucking problem.

J: It is. But the best way to get clothes is just like the type of shit you run into in your life – there’s something natural and sexy about it, the way you got it. Some of my favorite pieces ever are pants, jackets that were hand-me-downs from my uncle. They’re ripped and old but it’s just dope. Shit that you find in your parents’ wardrobe as well – it’s that shit that creates the most vivid homegrown styles

SERUM: For you. How much is too much to spend on a garment?

J: None – there’s not too much. Those t-shirts, green ones, $600. Like who the fuck is going to own a t-shirt for $600?! I believe everyone should own their dream pair of shoes, whether they cost $300 or $5k.

I feel like everyone needs their dream pair of shoes as soon as you can afford that shit – get them shits. I mean, what the fuck are people spending money on like what is there?

Drugs.

SERUM: How in your words would you say fashion is an extension of personality and why is it important?

J: It’s all about mood. The word fashion is …fashion is almost like an accessory to style. Style is just essence of character you know. It’s the purest form of someone’s soul, I don’t wanna say soul but it’s really deep rooted. Style is – they know what they’re doing they know where they’re going and why, even if they don’t realise they know. It gets quite spiritual I think style at least and then fashion is there to aid and protect style in a way and sometimes replace it. You get some losers out there that replace style with fashion though.

SERUM: When you wake up how do you know what you’re going to put on?

J: It’s always about what type of character I wanna be that day like what type of movie am I in today. Sometimes I feel minimal like right now I’m wearing black and two white stripes, Ricks. For sure sometimes I feel busy as and I wanna wear mad accessories like patterns, I feel like fucking people off.

SERUM: Name your top four designers.

J: Without saying me times four, lets go Margiela number one because I feel like that was the first guy to inject irony into the industry, like the element of almost dark humour in a way; he really criticised the industry and the ins and outs of it through the clothes which is kind of buzzy. Obviously everyone’s doing it now, the idea of just rarity. That guy, there’s like two known photos of him ever. He was very anonymous, very strange. Doesn’t really have a solid logo either; he’s got a tag that’s blank – all of that shit. So yeah Margiela, coolest.

Prada – it’s uniform, really minimal, classy – you now devil wears Prada, obviously.

Kanye – he’s not my favorite designer in the world but I still think he crushes it. He’s making a lot of statements I mean Season One, that fucked fashion up for sure in menswear.

SERUM: Yeah I fell for that real quick, completely in love.

J: Yeah and I don’t think the effects of that have been seen yet either, people are going to click maybe 10 years later but nah, Season One meant fucking heaps.

SERUM: Also the choreographer he chose for those shows was the same woman – Vanessa Beecroft and I just loved that human installation approach.

J: Yeah it was rare aye.. I think Helmut Lang did that as well. They had a kinda stand-still-army-type vibe.

SERUM: What do you think of celebrity designers?

J: I don’t know if I think anything of celebrity designers. It’s all good, after hearing so many Kanye interviews I try to stay away from the whole class-ism thing. Like try to not box people in you know if there’s a celebrity and they wanna do something different it’s like fuck yeah do it.

Name some..

SERUM: Rihanna, FENTY

J: Rihanna’s so fire. .

KANYE.

J: Who is a shitty one?

Savings from Better Burger.

SERUM: I just think for someone who lives it, breathes it, and then a random comes along and dabbles in it, must get frustrating, no?

J: Well I’m tryna live it. I’ve been doing 80 hours a week there. I’m not even playing, I’ve been just saving money this year to try and bag myself. Aw wait, first designer is Nigo!

Nigo – he designed BAPE and then Human Made – I think BAPE is the best streetwear label ever to do it. It brought streetwear to a really childish place but like, luxury. It was just buzzy like straight out of SpongeBob and then Pharrell… great celebrity designer, shout out to celebrity designers.

SERUM: I mean these days no one is one thing.

J: Yeah it’s kind of a renaissance huh.

Jett & Sizwe worked together at Better Burger.

SERUM: How do you feel about clout chasing ?

J: I’m a clout chaser. LOLS. There’s just a way to do it and a way to not do it – everyone wants to be popping so it’s like – you got to do it but you’ve got to know that you’ve got the bag. You’ve got to chase the clout within yourself rather than following other people’s clout. Sure people can give you followers but no one’s really giving you clout like passion and it always comes down to how you’re feeling inside. That’s where style sits, style is the essence of clout which comes back to God. It’s all very spiritual. You’ve just gotta focus on yourself – watch your own back and don’t bother about anyone else’s. If you can help someone else’s bag do that and if you can see that someone can help your bag – do that. But it’s about your bag, don’t steal anyone else’s cause you’ve got your own right there. Everyone’s got it. The people that are hating or clout chasing the wrong way – they’ve got a bag of their own but they dropped it on the floor, forgot about it and are going after someone else’s. It’s dumb. Focus on your own name, spend a lot of time alone ..

Nah, we’re gonna crush it.

Who’s we?

Me.