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Mathieu Bitton's interview 19 Jui 2015 09:25 #83563

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We often mention Mathieu Bitton, but if you don't know him yet or want to learn more, here is a nice interview: (great pictures in the link)

Hanging Out with the Terribly Talented Mathieu Bitton

By Matty Williams

So we’re on the phone talking about Prince. That Prince influenced him. That Prince is super funky. That it was the image of Prince’s melding torsos on the gatefold of the Parade album that made him want to design albums. That it was Prince that …

“Can you hang on? It’s Lenny…” Mathieu asks me in a deep, thick English voice laced with French.

While he is well known for art direction and design on a slew of notable records – including the Grammy-nominated box set “Cabinet of Curiosities” for Jane’s Addiction - Mathieu Bitton has become a full on, rock star photographer. Instead of hiring a photographer, he is the photographer. On this natural, but challenging, transition Bitton says, “In photography, my comfort level was never there because I knew so many huge photographers. I never felt worthy of calling myself a photographer. Now photography is taking over.”

Agreed. Allow me to name drop. He’s shot Mick Jagger. Jay Z. Pharrell. Bruno Mars. Lana Del Rey. Cee-Lo. Mos Def. Raphael Saadiq. The list goes on. Most significantly, he shoots Lenny Kravitz.

Bitton and Kravitz have worked together nearly non-stop since 2008. But they go way back. They’ve been friends since they were kids when both found themselves transplanted to LA. Bitton from Paris. Kravitz from New York. Because of this, a sense of intimacy and authenticity surfaces between photographer and subject. Of Bitton, Kravitz says, “…his photographs completely capture the essence of who and what I am at that moment and he has an ability to bend the atmosphere.”

Clearly Kravitz trusts him. Shots snap everywhere. During live shows and at home. In rehearsals and media appearances. On late nights out and early morning breakfasts. It’s a seamless, embedded thing that happens. Like Bob Gruen or Mick Rock, good rock photographers often get so tight with their subjects - their presences nearly constant - that they become part of the scene itself. They hang out and hang out and hang out for that golden moment. Which, apparently for Bitton, has arrived.

Of course, there’s more. Bitton’s instinctual, relentless work method and diverse influences from the film, fashion and art worlds drive him to create exciting work beyond music. Take the impromptu – and dangerous – skateboarding shot taken in Paris with his friends, legendary street skateboarder Mark Gonzales and Alexandra Birchall-White. Or the surreal, starry beach nude, taken after a late night in LA. Captivating images that, using Kravitz’s words, seem to “bend the atmosphere.”

While seeing his work next to a Warhol and a RETNA at a recent exhibition in Austin, he feels a bit uncomfortable. It’s a feeling Bitton wants to continue, saying, “I don’t want to be the guy walking around saying ‘look how good my shit is. Look at that. It’s amazing.’ I’ll never be Kanye West. You know what I mean?” When I ask him if he considers himself an artist, Bitton takes a moment and says, “It’s funny you’ve asked me that. I’ve always felt like an imposter. Like, you know, ‘What am I doing here? How could I be so lucky? There are so many people out there more talented that I am.’ And that’s been the voice in my head, the devil on my shoulder. People say I’m an artist. I just do what I do.”

Even though he’s had much success, I tell Bitton that it definitely feels like he’s at a jump off point with his photography. Bitton responds, appropriately, in the language of music, “I can’t do what a Lenny or a Prince or what a Miles Davis can do. I can’t get on stage and move people with my voice and instruments. The best I can do is give people images that can move them. It’s my art. It’s my creative expression. And that’s why I’m looking forward to film. Because that’s where it all connects.”

All images © Mathieu Bitton, used with permission.
2008:Nimes (Love Revolution)
2009: Paris, Lyon, Arras (Love Revolution)
2011: lyon, Rouen, Hambourg (BAWA)
2012: Middelfart (BAWA)
2014: Paris, Dijon (Strut)
2015: Olympia, Arras, Festival Beauregard, Skanderborg (Strut)
2018: Bercy, Les Déferlantes, Nîmes, Bordeaux, Tours, Vienne (Raise Vibration)

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