Mar 31, 2009, 06:21AM

INTERVIEW: Sterling Andrews

The concert photographer’s most recent project is a multimedia collection of staged band portraits.

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Los Angeles-based photographer Sterling Andrews has been working with indie rock bands in the So-Cal area for years now, doing live concert photography with the likes of Silversun Pickups, Great Northern, and Rogue Wave. Her latest project, Gooseberries, builds on her love of fantastical portraiture. Andrews designed whimsical sets out of nothing more than paper and paint, each one designed specifically for the 12 bands she asked to be a part of the project. Musicians were costumed and staged by Andrews, making for a stunning collection of 11x11 lithographs. A DVD of interviews and time-lapse photography was also put together. Some of my own favorite bands are represented, including Silversun Pickups and Rogue Wave, as well as One Trick Pony, Earlimart, and The Pity Party. Gooseberries is only available in very limited release, 500 signed and numbered copies, available April 4, 2009 from Eenie Meenie Records. A release party will be held April 2 at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock in L.A., and all 12 lithographs can be viewed in a slideshow at VenusZine I talked with Andrews last week about how it all came together.

SPLICE TODAY: When did you first get the idea for this project and how long did it take to finish?

STERLING ANDREWS: It all happened very quickly. Reiko and I had been talking about doing a project together, and I'd just started painting my own backdrops, so it just sort of made sense. All of the photographs were taken between May and August of 2008.  

ST: Why ask to photograph the bands you did? I assume at least some of these people are friends of yours? Did you know from the beginning whom you wanted to photograph?
SA: I had already worked with about half of the bands, the rest—like Le Switch and The Henry Clay People—were people I'd met and seemed as if they'd be fun to work with. The only band I didn't know was One Trick Pony; I saw them open for Rademacher while I was in the middle of shooting Gooseberries and really loved what I heard, so I asked them to be a part of it as well.
ST: Who did the filming and video production? Was that all you too?

SA: I didn't do any of the filming or video production; some good friends came in to do that part—Brad Basmajian (who edited the Gooseberries music video for Radmacher's "What I Want"), Ryan Reichenfeld (who edited the video for Rogue Wave's "Like I Needed") and Edwin McDonald.  Of course, I couldn’t have had any of it without the genius of Jeff Mizushima, who has also been working with Eenie Meenie for some time, and has directed music videos for Great Northern and the Happy Hollows. He conducted almost all of the interviews with the bands, directed and edited the Gooseberries trailer as well as the 20-minute feature, and put together the contents of the DVD.  Jeff's a serious rock star; totally amazing.

ST: Did you do any of the clothing or costumes? Some of the get-ups seem a little more whimsical than others. What instructions did you give to the bands?

SA: Sometimes I dressed them in items from my own wardrobe collection; sometimes I borrowed items from my stylish, clothes horse friend David. The color palettes were very specific, so when people did provide their own clothes, I asked that they not bring jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes, or anything patterned. I encouraged dark colors and earth tones—vests and jackets and hats and dresses.

ST: Can you talk some about the process for designing individual backdrops? What was the very first one you started on and how did it come together?

SA: I had a photo shoot scheduled with the Happy Hollows at the beginning of last year, and I had all of these crazy ideas of what I wanted to do with them but none of us had any sort of budget. So I brought out some paper and paint and dug through my closet and came up with the closest thing I could to what I'd imagined. I remember biting my lip when I opened the door to my studio the day of the shoot: This is so weird... what are they going to think of this? Will they like it? Will they walk out? This is so weird... Coincidentally, Sarah had been drawing trees much like the one I'd painted, so the idea of doing something mystical and fantastic was on her mind, as well. The shoot was fun, and decided I really liked the idea of adding that handmade, crafty element to music portraiture.
ST: Any plans for your next project?

SA: Well, no matter how I try, I just can't seem to work on just one thing at a time. My friend Rhea and I have been designing jewelry, the band in which I sing (Eagle Winged Palace) just signed with Park the Van and we'll be releasing a record this fall, and I'm getting involved with some charity and fundraising events. Now is as good a time as ever to be creative and do some good in the world, don't you think?

Visit Sterling Andrews on MySpace


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