DeadNakedParty: The Visionary Shooting Today's Biggest Creatives
If you’ve been paying attention to the Auckland music scene you would’ve seen the name Deadnakedparty popping up. The Manurewa photographer is behind the ‘Thorough Bread’ and ‘Valleyside Boys Vol. 2’ covers along with singles from other artists including Kome.
He’s not your usual club photographer, there’s a personal aspect to Deadnakedparty’s photos. Initially starting in film, it was evident from the start that his calling was behind the camera. Transitioning into photography seamlessly, there was a whole new style about to emerge. The chopped and screwed style has become a staple to Deadnakedparty, its not just a few colour adjustments, it’s a whole re-work process behind each photo. Whether its hand-drawn or photoshop, you won’t see the same Deadnakedparty photo twice.
Nah Zone had guest contributor Max Tetlow sit down with Deadnakedparty to talk about his beginnings, his future and everything in between.
How did you get into photography?
I was raised in Manurewa, specifically Clendon, I went to a very interesting and colourful high school. I took up art a lot of the years I went there but I think my true calling in a way was the camera based arts, so film and photography. I started off drawing and was type casted as the “guy that’s good at drawing” of every class i was in, I’m surprised I didn’t go down that direction, I just felt like, I dont know, I didn’t see any future personally with it.
I fell in love with TV and movies, the first milestone for me was Breaking Bad, watching all 5 seasons of it. The cinematography, storytelling, I felt like that was legit one of the best TV shows to come out at the time, comparable to the Sopranos. I needed to learn how to be camera-savy so I took up photography and soon learned that I was actually pretty ok at taking photos, I wasn’t bad. Classmates were like ‘Oh shit you’re pretty good eh’. I think it was just because I shot things in a really interesting way. My drug subject matter was really colourful, I took on all aspects, looking at both sides of the spectrum.
After high school I went to a course and did filmmaking for two years. Photography was always on the side believe it or not. I started photography as a means to get to film, just to hold the camera better, learning angles, shots and all that type of stuff. My strongest strength for film was the camera. When I started to learn about film I developed an interest in the directors, I felt they were more interesting than the actors. I’d like to think of myself as a big film buff, it's easy for me to tell any director's signature style. Tarantino is revenge fantasy and commercialised non linear storytelling, Stanley Kubrick is a perfectionist who constantly pushed boundaries visually, his films are timeless. Even for his time it wasn’t regarded as really good until people looked at it retrospectively. Martin Scorsese has a classic Italian mafioso kinda style. Nolan has his mind-bending, psychology style. Even alot of underground film makers, old-school like Akira Kurosawa, he’s legit top 5. Federico Fellini, Italian director, I studied some of his stuff, as far as art direction goes his shit looks like renaissance paintings.
So from the start you were immediately drawn to the creative direction?
Just the directors themselves, the way they style certain scenes, I felt like the way they implemented their style in their film. Like Alfred Hitchcock, the way he innovated that whole stylistic movement, he sorta helped the auteur theory. I just feel like those directors inspired me to own my own style.
Do you take any inspiration from a particular director or is it a mix of them all?
It’s a mix of everything, influences everywhere. I dive into modern art too, Basquiat’s especially. I resonate with his work cause his work is all messy and over the top, my shits been like that too. Picasso, he’s versatile. Francis Bacon he’s this expressionist, surrealist painter and he does these fucked up faces, self-portraits. I fuck with his stuff, he’s one of the original inspirations. For photography, this lady called Dianne Arbus that took photos of people at the margins of society. When I started out, she was a big influence on my subject matters and my style. Even local artists like Bryson Naik, Southsides, Jpegmezaddy and Nvryh, I enjoy all their works.
During your time studying film, did you start looking into photography influences or was it just a side interest at the time?
It was actually during high school photography class. We had to find artist inspirations for our NCEA boards but I genuinely became interested. I was like ‘these guys are actually really inspirational people’. Throughout year 11 my friend was always mentioning different movies I should watch and I would go and do my own research. I was just picking up influences on the way, absorbing their inspiration, also in all arts. Even with painting, I went through this phase where I legit was painting. It was shit but it taught me to appreciate painters.
How did you get involved with the whole music scene?
I had a friend, Jinzo who introduced me to heaps of people as his photographer or “the person who shot his music video”. We go way back, since like primary. He introduced me to Dharmarat, N eo and some other artists. Jinzo was pretty much my entry to that part of the music scene. After that I kinda went on small hiatus in 2017, when I graduated studies where I was flat out doing nothing and took a long break from anything creative due to personal problems. Early 2018 I started posting again on instagram. Jinzo was bringing up Nah Zone quite a bit, I took interest and started to follow them because I really wanted them to see my stuff. I knew they were picking up traction and I added Joni knowing she ran Nah Zone. She followed me back and DM'ed me about my work after a few posts during the year to meet up and talk about possibly working with them. It kinda gave me confirmation that I should be doing this because someone with that amount of influence in the scene was interested in my work. She messaged my personal Facebook asking if I was Deadnakedparty and believe me, not many people know the person behind DNP and I prefer it that way. We kept cancelling on each other for 2 weeks but we finally got a chance to sit down. We just discussed me being the in-house photographer and I agreed cause I thought it was a good opportunity for me at the time. It REALLY confirmed it to me that at this point I should be doing this. After that I started taking photos for interviews, events and other stuff Nah Zone were doing.
I shot for Church & AP and did their album cover. I actually met Church by chance at Auckland City Limits a few years back when Kendrick was playing and I was supposed to meet Jinzo and shoot him but I found out we couldn’t bring in big DSLR cameras into the venue. I was waiting for him and I didn’t have credit or data so I was pretty much by myself getting hyped to Kendrick. Then I saw Church who was doing the same, we were dapping each other up and after the event we were kicking it while we walked to our rides. We both learned that we had similar music tastes, he was year 11 at the time and I couldn’t help but think that he can hold an intelligent conversation and his music taste was beyond his year level. Looking back I think it was a testament to how good he is at rapping, not even just for his age. We were waiting for our rides and he started to bring up all these artists. I didn’t listen to Lil Yachty at the time but he told me to check out ‘One Night’ when it just came out and had no clout at the time.
So it's kinda just a pure coincidence you got involved with music? Being childhood friends with Jinzo and meeting Church Leon at Auckland City Limits.
Yeah I guess so. Church wasn’t even properly doing music at the time, I think he was just rapping on the side. I think we added each other on social media and I saw him do this little rap, just a one minute thing and I was like ‘holy shit he’s good’. I saw he had potential straight away, he didn’t sound like anyone who was rapping around me at the time, he had the kiwi accent and it was working for him. He just had this distinct style, I saw him do more and more music while dropping stuff with AP. I saw him drop that ‘Slumber’ song, that was the first time I heard AP and he had the distinct Kiwi style too. I like those two, when they started releasing even more music I fucked with them heavy.
I know you shoot the occasional events, what’s that like it comparison to shooting artists privately?
I shot the You’re Welcome launch party, that’s where I met Dhamarat, N eo and a few other artists again but I was still pretty lowkey at that point. I’ve even shot stuff for the Manurewa Youth Council. Those few events, rap gigs, local stuff, even rock gigs, I like the hardcore scene. It’s different from rap gigs with the heavy moshing, bumping into each other, looking like they’re about to start a fight. Sometimes events get too crowded for me though, I prefer if people don’t ask me for photos, I’d rather ask people if I can shoot them. If one person asks me for photos, people get that idea that it’s okay to ask and it becomes a cycle. I’m really intimate with my photos, I’d rather go to a location, shoot a couple or a handful of artists. Like the Church & AP interview photos Sniffers put up, that was at the Mercury Plaza and the cover art for ‘Thorough Bread’ was in this room with stairs. Love those boys.
You’ve got a few covers under your belt this year, you shot the ‘Valleyside Boys Vol. 2’ and ‘Thorough Bread’ covers and few covers for Kome.
Yeah me, Valleyside Boys, Dharmarat, Jinzo we’re all boys. They just told me to come through and shoot the cover for VSB Vol. 2. They had a completely different idea from me but we merged our two ideas together. They allowed all the creative freedom! I don’t expect them to pay me as long as I get to keep my creative integrity cause they’re boys.
Kome are boys too, Humbleboy and Spyde both stay in Manurewa so that’s why I kinda wanted to reach out to them. They wanted to shoot stuff with me and I also offered, we drove around and just shot some photos. I shot this one cover that hasn’t come out, its unbelievable. It was for their EP cover but I’m not sure if that’s even being used now just because all the members aren’t in it. The cover for ‘so i suppose’ with Humbleboy came about when he posted a snippet of that song, I fucked with it heavy and I started to get ideas. I go over to their house a lot and when I went there he played the full version, it went hard. Just like that I had an idea, I always carry the camera with me so I grabbed it out and we shot something real quick. I had this whole concept in my head, it sounded tough and that’s how the collage of him with different fighting stances came about. The drawings around him kinda fit his brand, like cartoony but humorous and slick. I think his flow kinda resembles that in the best way, his flow is so innovative to the scene right now, it’s fun. Kome have a good thing going for them, their brand, style. They hold their Samoan culture very close to them, you can hear the undertone of that in their music.
With a quick rise this year, do you see long-term goal from photography? Or is it just taking it day-by-day at the moment?
Definitely want to keep at it, I want to mix stuff up by letting opportunities happen naturally but also I want to work towards it. I want to keep making appearances at different music and general arts shows, I’ve been offered opportunities by local artists, even Friends + Enemies from the fashion side have come to me. It’d be interesting to enter that world too.
I pick and choose who I want to work with. If we’re close, I won’t charge because I want to support you but if someone came to me and asked me to shoot their cover and I’ve never heard of them or their music, I’d have to charge. I can’t see their vision, it’s tougher for me and doesn’t come naturally. All my best work comes naturally. I feel like I’m coming into the music/arts scene in a real DIY way, I’m doing everything the way i want to, I’m rejecting those normalities and rules. This is the shit I make an effort to do. I want to be known as a figurehead in New Zealand, not just the local music scene and different scenes. Music is a good start but I don’t wanna be in one scene forever. I want to be truly validated as an artist.