I thought, 'When else am I going to be in Guadalajara AND with Lil Jon?'
AMAZING. Have you gotten an offer to do one, or you have decided to do it either way?
I haven't yet. I think the site needs more growth. I put it online on May 29, 2012. In only two weeks, I've gotten offers to advertise on the site. I will definitely do a book either way, but I have my hopes high that someone wants to do one with me. It would make a killer coffee table book. Urban Outfitters — call me!
That would be an amazing collab. So you've done significant touring, shooting for Hennessy, and other ventures outside of nightlife photography, right? How have A-trak, Aoki, LMFAO, and others approached you about coming on tour with them?
To this day, I am still amazed that people want to pay me. I mean, I understand why now, but I still get really excited when someone hits me up. There have been a few real milestones in my career.
Within the first 2 weeks of starting the site, I shot LMFAO and Kid Cudi in a pretty much empty room in NYC. They were just getting hot. LMFAO hit me the next week and asked to use the photos for their debut album. We've been friends ever since. They're fucking huge now, so we don't talk as much, but when they're in town, I try to make a point of linking up with them.
I actually met Lil Jon through them. He and I struck up a relationship revolving around tequila. He's probably the only person that can drink me under the table. He and I went to Guadalajara together with the Don Julio team to see how their tequila is made. It was definitely the best moment of my life. I thought, "When else am I going to be in Guadalajara AND with Lil Jon?"
At this point, I was getting booked for a lot for club gigs and parties, but I always stayed true to the idea that money will not drive my business. I always chose a better party that may not have money over a paid gig.
In the fall of 2010, I crashed the Fools Gold block party in NYC. I talked my way in, shot it, and tweeted the photos to A-trak, Chromeo, and whoever else was there. In a few days, A-trak emailed me. He loved the photos. I was in awe. I mean, this guy's a fucking legend.
Ever since then, he's been family. He's always had my back, and I'd do anything for him. He believed in me. His brother Dave of Chromeo has been super supportive of my career, too.
The Aoki hookup was funny. I saw he was playing in NYC in the spring of 2011. I hit up a few friends that knew him, but nobody could nail him down to get me a pass. 24 hours before the show, Aoki Facebook messaged me, asking me if I'd come to his show in NYC and take pics. Woah. I obviously did. And since then, he's been fucking with me, too.
Over the years though, my site has become more about the fans, the drunk girls, and the people at these shows. It's less about the artists, which is funny when people are impressed that I can shoot other stuff.
Hennessy is my family. I love them. They've treated me as an artist from day one. A lot of corporate people hire you for who you are and then try to tell you what to do, which never goes well. Hennessy is different. They saw what I could bring to their brand, and at the same time, give them dope photos. They've taken me everywhere to shoot their parties and events, from LA to Miami to throwing me on a private jet to France twice.
I'm sure so many crazy things have happened to you on the job, a lot of which you've already mentioned, but if you could pick one moment, what's the craziest thing that's happened to you while you've been doing Kirillwashere?
I'm not gonna name names, but this basically describes how shitty nightlife is or how bad it can be when art meets business. Two years ago, I shot a party. Afterwards, my friends told me to come down to this other club, drink with them, and take photos. I show up, get in, and start drinking and shooting. Within 15 minutes, security swarms me and says I can't shoot. Two seconds later, the owner comes over and tells me he has to format my memory card. There is no photography at his club. i'm blown away. It's me versus security and the owner. They take my camera and wipe it. A year later, the same owner was begging me to come shoot this same club.
That's the story of my life in shooting for nightlife. Every club in NYC has said no to me and turned me away. Now they see the value in my brand, my following, and what I've built. They see how I've been cosigned by guys like A-trak, Aoki, Lil Jon, and other brands. They don't see me as someone intruding their clubs, but as someone helping their brands get exposure as well.