Matthew Brindle

AUTHOR:  
Published:  February 4, 2010
Brendan McKnight
Matthew Brindle

Matthew Brindle is one of those people you just have to be inspired by. An underground club legend, internationally published photographer and with a client list to die for including i-D, The Times and Britain’s Next Top Model, you can’t help but to be blown away.

At the age of 15, Brindle ran away from his small English country town with friends he’d met on the internet in search London’s bright lights, where he has made his mark running club nights that people would literally fly in from other countries to be a part of.

In 2005 he set up MEGAMEGAMEGA where he documents the crazy, bizarre and wonderful world that is the London club scene, which he still operates and is as popular as ever.

So dress up, dress down, party like you just don’t care and look out for the guy with a cap, beard, tattoos and portable softbox flash. It makes even the sweatiest of clubbers look like radiant hotties. Trust me.

All You Can Eat - MEGAMEGAMEGA

All You Can Eat - MEGAMEGAMEGA

Hello Matthew. So what is your story?
Oh that’s a rather long story! I’m not sure you would like to be bored with that! The very short version is that I moved to London at 15 as a teenage runaway with friends I’d met through the Internet. Weird but true! I was fed up of my dull little country town and after a more exciting life. I became quite heavily involved in the queer alternative movement that happened in London’s club scene around that time. The shedding of my old life and a fresh start in the bright lights of the capital allowed a rather excited teenager to dramatically change who they were. It was quite a freeing experience and I would often take self portraits throughout the years to express that.

I recently had an exhibition of my self portraits at the RISE Gallery in Berlin.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

You started MEGAMEGAMEGA over five years ago. How did this come about?
I had already been working in the club scene, DJing and running some club nights by the time I decided to start taking club photos. I always would take snapshots on disposables and it just seemed like a natural expression. I had always been a bit of a nerd on the side making websites, so it wasn’t too hard to get it going. Some of the slang around the time was how ‘mega’ things were. The name came as a play on that, it was also a bit of an in-joke with friends. I wanted something really hard to pronounce when drunk!

Glastonbury - MEGAMEGAMEGA

Glastonbury - MEGAMEGAMEGA

Can you tell me how the London club scene has evolved over this period?
It’s definitely changed a lot. We’ve seen the death of ‘super clubs’, the fall of Soho and the rise of East London. There are many great things about that and also many sad things too.

I do feel that the club scene did take itself less seriously ‘back in the day’. It was about the good time, the people, then the music, then the image. It seems to be quite often reversed now. While it gives way to some amazing music and amazing looking people, sometimes the good time is lost in favour to it. East London way there is a lot more apparent pressure to ‘look’ and ‘be’ cool, as it’s the hub for London’s real fashion industry, when really for me if party like you just don’t care, that’s what’s cool.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Successful clubs are much smaller now, often moving about not at fixed venues or in illegal warehouses. The rock, indie and electroclash are all but dead with dub, grime and bassline exploding. Which is a much more serious, harder and less all accepting scene but pumped with a lot of energy and creativity. Not that they weren’t happening on the fringe before, it’s just now become the underground norm. There are little pockets of revivals happening recently, with the recession lots of diy and lowfi nights are popping up. So I’m expecting a lot of new exciting things to happen this year.

Black Balloon

Black Balloon

What is your most favourite club memory?
Quite a few of the funniest moments were at Nag Nag Nag. When electroclash in London was at it’s height and that club was the ‘place to be’. Seeing Björk stumbling around rather wasted with her m’ockney accent and having Christina Aguilera refused entry due to her ridiculous entourage! But I guess my favourite memory personally is of the night I used to run with the late Simon Hobart and Vic Voltair called Red Eye. It was the only hard gay alternative night, playing rock, metal and industrial at time when being gay was basically G-A-Y pop or nothing. People would fly in from other countries and even move to London just to be apart of it. It was like a very mixed up family. Seeing a sea of gay punk kids smashing it up in the moshpit, fat lips and black eyes then all of a sudden stop as The Time Warp comes on and in total sync all bust out the coordinated dance moves will always be a special moment for me.

Cormac for Ministry of Sound

Cormac for Ministry of Sound

Do you prefer the control of photo shoots or the spontaneity of club photography?
With my photo shoots I do like to do huge setups, with a lot of planning in terms of set, lighting, technicalities and also a lot of work in post-production. However I also purposefully leave a window for experimentation and play. Spontaneity within setup. I think it’s important never to loose that feeling of openness and of play. While in my photo shoots I’m thinking ‘creation’, in the club work I’m thinking ‘capture’. We often see other club photographers stopping people partying mid dance move to ask if they can take a photo or even stopping them to ask them to move and pose! With MEGA I’ve always done the opposite, we just dance, with the camera, with everyone and snap as we go. If someone doesn’t want his or her photo taken we delete it afterwards. That way we haven’t broken the moment. We’ve often become apart of it. I guess the mantra is whether creating or capturing to just go with it and play!

Shoot from Britian's Next Top Model

Shoot from Britian's Next Top Model

Last year you were guest photographer on Britain’s Next Top Model. Could you tell me about how this came to be?
Oddly, they emailed me completely out of the blue through my website. I’ve always watched Britain’s Next Top Model and America’s Next Top Model quite a bit, maybe even embarrassingly so. Geek! So at first I thought it was a practical joke from friends. But no it was the real deal and I was on set filming a month later. I’m on it again this year actually, filming in March. My shoot this year is going to be rather gruesome and bloody. That’s all I can say!

On set - Britian's Next Top Model

On set - Britian's Next Top Model

Do you secretly wish it were America’s Next Top Model and you got to meet Tyra?
Ha, people often ask me that! Well funny you should say that I’m over in the states a fair bit each year (usually for Burning Man festival) but I’m planning on making the jump from London to NYC sometime next year. So who knows what might happen.

Shoot from Britian's Next Top Model

Shoot from Britian's Next Top Model

Do you listen to music whilst you work? If so, what are you listening to at the moment?
On set for shoots I usually prefer some hard electro if it’s fashion work, get’s everyone energised. Maybe Fake Blood or Boys Noise. More intimate portraits I might put something like Four Tett on. While editing I usually have iTunes or Spotify on random. Mindless Self Indulgence are on as I write this but The XX were on just before. It’s all a bit all over the place.

3473621698_0529d2d613_b

Where do you feel most inspired?
Twilight. I find the morning after you’ve been up all night one of the most inspiring of times. That point where you’ve had an amazing night, all night, and the dark is just rising to light and you’re body clock has just ticked over from exhaustion into a last burst of energy. All the mundane things are just that little bit more magical.

Shoot for Attitude

Shoot for Diesel

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I know for my family they would see it as Britain’s Next Top Model, as I don’t see them as much as I’d like and it being on the TV. I’m sure a lot of other photographers might feel the same. Although I wouldn’t gauge being on the TV as a yardstick for success. I guess keeping MEGA going so long is maybe one of my biggest achievements, when I scroll through the endless photos on there I sometimes forget that I was actually standing on that spot taking that photo. There have just been so many millions of photos over the years it almost feels like a lifetime ago. Like it was someone else. But here I am still doing it. I guess that’s a bit of an achievement right there. I’ll probably be dancing about with a camera to my grave at this rate.

Black Balloon

Black Balloon

What is your set-up? Gear? Studio?
I have a small studio set up at home, with two 500k and a one 1k Bowens heads and a portable battery pack for on location work. Camera wise I use a Canon EOS 50D for MEGA and for basic day-to-day shooting. Usually I hire something medium format or a Canon 5d Mark II for much larger shoots when needed. I’ll probably get a Canon 7D in the next couple of months as I’m going to start doing some video work and it is perfect for that. With MEGA the main little trick we keep up our sleeve is the flashgun portable softbox. That can make even the sweatiest of clubbers into radiant hotties. Other gear is a Dell XPS beast of a laptop, a rack of external hard drives and of course the entire Adobe suite. Not sure I could live without my beloved Photoshop.

Shoot for AXM

Shoot for AXM

What are you working on at the moment? What is next for Matthew?
At the moment I’m finishing off some shots of electroclash legend Larry Tee for i-D. I have just seen the new campaign for LONG Clothing go live (out in SUPER SUPER and online) and I’m also working on a hush hush exhibition on youth club culture where MEGA is being quite heavily featured – which all going well might be popping up at the ICA . But mostly I’m doing my best to hunt out locations and props for the upcoming gore filled Britain’s Next Top Model shoot. You don’t happen to know any spooky haunted forests do you?

www.matthewbrindle.co.uk
www.megamegamega.com

All Images Copyright Matthew Brindle

6 Responses

  1. Blake

    I love this guy! He is a great inspiration. Thanks for choosing him to interview.
    Just awesome

  2. Louise Ayres

    Sweet article Brendan! Love this guys work!

  3. really love Matthew Brindles work (and have done for a few years now) … he takes really great photos. maybe someday he’ll photograph us? :)

    Adrian + Shane

  4. emman

    its so inspiring when you hear a tale of someone running away from home at a very young age and making it huge in such a competitive industry

  5. Danii

    the first pic with the gun is great – these photo’s are just beautiful

  6. Pingback: [BLOG] Simon Seyz: Matthew Brindle, One to Watch « billyburgwick

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