Photo Study : Vocalists

Photo Study : Vocalists

So I’m trying my hardest to fine tune this whole blog thing and make it a bit more interesting and direct. There’s a million and one sites delivering reviews and news so there’s no point trying to compete with them particularly.

So I decided I’d try and bring in the photo thing a bit more because, well there’s slightly less people doing that. So I’m hoping to do more photo based posts, features, ideas the lot. Still bang about records here and there as well, but mainly try and cover interesting arts through something at least vaguely photographic.

So (because apparently starting paragraphs with so is also a new thing) I thought I’d start by sharing some of my favourite photos I’ve taken of vocalists in the last year or so and explain what about the vocalists, or the picture, I find so compelling.

Jasmine @ Nice ‘n’ Sleazys // Photograph by Calum McMillan

This young woman totally blew me away towards the end of 2014 with her absolutely stunning voice. Channelling the same kind of intimate and emotive quality that makes the likes of Dallas Green  such timeless listening, there’s something here that’s really special. I really like the soft light and subtle lens flare of this photo, I thought it mirrored the sensitive dynamics of her music perfectly.

Shaun Couper of Guerrilla Radio @ The Classic Grand // photograph by Calum McMillan
Shaun Couper of Guerrilla Radio @ The Classic Grand // photograph by Calum McMillan

 I’ve know this man most of the time I’ve been listening to music. All that time he’s been a great singer, but the strides he’s taken, from a technical stand point and as a front man, in the last couple of years are pretty staggering. His current role as vocalist of Rage Against The Machine tribute Guerrilla Radio sees him channel the infectious energy of that band’s front-man and distil through it a vocal range more dynamic, and powerful, than acts with multiple singers.  I love this photo because I think the slight distortion of the wide angle insinuates the sizes of stages this man should be playing.

Toni Benedetti of Act Natural @ The Darroch, Bar // photograph by Calum McMillan
Toni Benedetti of Act Natural @ The Darroch, Bar // photograph by Calum McMillan

This photo is a favourite of mine because a) it looks punk as fuck and b) that snarl on Toni Benedetti’s face is legitimately punk as fuck. There’s a youthful fire and carefree nature to Act Natural that shows two things: their youth and their potential. They’ve thrown out enough ideas to hit on plenty of good ones but haven’t quite got around to throwing out the rougher ideas. Yet. But, for reasons I still can’t quite put my finger on, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

David McGeehan of Transcension @ Nice 'n' Sleazys // photograph by Calum McMillan
David McGeehan of Transcension @ Nice ‘n’ Sleazys // photograph by Calum McMillan

David McGeehan is an afflicted man. Afflicted with being unrealistically musically talented. A drummer, turned guitarist turned reluctant singer he’s almost a one man band. 2014 saw him really find his voice, which is pretty ferocious, and start to come into his own as a performer. When this photo was taken he was playing a show with Transcension to a handful of people on a cold Sunday night and still played as if the club was packed.  Which isn’t easy. I think this photograph captures that kind of intensity pretty well.

Adam Craig of Swallows @ The Classic Grand // photograph by Calum McMillan
Adam Craig of Swallows @ The Classic Grand // photograph by Calum McMillan

The spontaneity of punk rock and hardcore is one of the best things about that type of music. I can’t think of a photo that sums up that spirit of playing with total abandon as this one does. Swallows always channel that spirit, and despite that being “their thing”, never let it stunt their performance or appear forced. That Adam Craig has such a convincing passion behind his relentless bellow probably helps a lot too.

Murray Nicol of Sectioned @ Opium // photograph by Calum McMillan
Murray Nicol of Sectioned @ Opium // photograph by Calum McMillan

If I was asked “what band in Scotland are doing it right?” then I’d answer “Sectioned”. They’re about as on the ball and together as a band can be for my money. Also they rule. During my time at this year’s Fringe I managed to catch them ripping up Opium one evening and I feel this shot sums up the oppressive and unrelentingly aggressive nature of their music and Murray Nicol’s caustic roar.

Erin Donnachie of Life on Standby // photograph by Calum McMillan
Erin Donnachie of Life on Standby // photograph by Calum McMillan

Erin Donnachie has a hugely powerful voice. And she knows how to use it. Further proof that the best vocalists with the biggest voices come in small packages she’s slowly becoming a formidable front woman. Which is why I like this photo. It’s gentle, subtle and intimate. It’s almost a total contrast to what I associate most with her. There’s something cool about that.

Becky Addison of Farewell Singapore // photograph by Calum McMillan
Becky Addison of Farewell Singapore // photograph by Calum McMillan

Farewell Singapore somehow spend their time balancing themselves on the subtle knife edge between convincingly gritty punk and the best bits of pop music, in no small part to Becky Addison’s characterful vocal. They’re fun. Fun with some depth. Which I guess is the best kind of fun. And that’s what this photo reminds me of: fun.

Daniel Tompkins of Skyharbor
Daniel Tompkins of Skyharbor @ Audio // photograph by Calum McMillan

Anyone who is aware of Daniel Tompkins will be aware that he’s a genuinely phenomenal vocalist. That’s just fact. And when I saw him with Skyharbor it was a stellar gig. What I like about this photo is how I managed to capture, what I assume is, his wedding ring in focus while the rest of him fades into the bokeh. Skyharbo’s warm and textured music always brings to mind the warmth and comfort of love to me, so it seems fitting that I caught this physical symbol of love while that music was being played.

Ville Valo of HIM @ The Barrowlands Ballroom // photograph by Calum McMillan
Ville Valo of HIM @ The Barrowlands Ballroom // photograph by Calum McMillan

Ville Valo rules because in a genre typically dominated by wailing tenors and vocal histrionics he embraces his naturally deep and rich baritone and his band and lyrics are remarkably self aware and comfortable with themselves. And he’s a handsome devil. That HIM song’s can immediately evoke a response, ranging from melancholy to arousal, speaks volumes as to the potency of the band’s music. Assuming you’re a fan of keeping your tongue firmly in your cheek that is. This one of the biggest bands I’ve been able to shot, and being able to do so at a venue like the Barrowlands was pretty special. I think the black and white kinda fits the vibe of HIM’s music.

Jamie Graham of Heart of a Coward @ The Classic Grand // photograph by Calum McMillan
Jamie Graham of Heart of a Coward @ The Classic Grand // photograph by Calum McMillan

Heart of a Coward are unapologetically knuckle-headed. They’re also a pretty satisfying listen when you’re after something simple, aggressive and direct. I think everything about this photo pretty much sums up those sentiments.

Jesse Leach of Killswitch Engage @ O2 Academy // photograph by Calum McMillan
Jesse Leach of Killswitch Engage @ O2 Academy // photograph by Calum McMillan

I could have chosen any picture I took of Jesse Leach this night at the O2 Academy that night, but this one strikes me because it seems to channel the man’s infectious and inspiring passion to a tee and it removes him from the rest of the band to highlight what a strong figure he is even by himself. For me, he’s the ultimate example of redemption through determination and the garish nature of the colours here somehow ram that home for me. At one point I had a coherent and arty farty reason for that…but I forgot by the time I got the writing bit. So…yeah. I just like the colours.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s