Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 | T: lamono
Interior. Night. Atlanta (Georgia). Brandon Wesley McClain, aka Eat Humans, is present at an underground rap concert in the city; he got there thanks to his position as official photographer for Awful Records. Surrounded by a vast crowd, always in the front row, he manages to capture the sweat drops that spew from the upcoming music scene of this metropolis. With Brandon, it doesn’t really matter where the action is at, he will be there too. The script behind the story of this photographer could might as well begin like that, in the middle of the throng, capturing human interaction, authentic portraits, and the attitude of all the people that surround him, but as well, amongst the void of a city that dwells in silence, buried in the trash left behind by a past life which still echoes in the air, far away from today. A place where all that remains are postcards of a previous existence, as a capsule that reminds us we can become nothing. The utter charm of his photographs resides in how he interacts with emptiness, evoking a disturbing sensation that makes us think about a dystopian society where him and his camera are the sole survivors, and no, there’s no cannibalism between takes.
When did you discover your interest for photography? Have you always known it was your thing? When I was 21 years old I discovered my passion for photography, now I’m 25. Before photography, basketball was my only true passion. It wasn’t until the year 2014 that I realized I could potentially earn a living making art. Now my life is devoted to creating and expressing myself in every possible way.
‘Eat Humans’ sounds bold and provocative. Why did you choose that artistic name and how does it relate to your stills? The name ‘Eat Humans’ was, oddly, the first thing that came to my mind when my friend, Brianna, convinced me to open a Twitter account years ago. I wasn’t even taking photographs at this time. I was living in Boston, with my father, because I got kicked out of my mom’s house after high school, since I wasn’t doing anything with my life. That was a dark and confusing period for me, so I came up with a name, which reflected that time. Honestly, I wanted my name to be strange, so that people wouldn’t follow me, because I wasn’t interested in social media back then. I just used to look at a few weird/dark Tumblr pages.
Some of your photographs have a dark, morbid, yet ironic tone in them. Where does this element come from? Anyone who knows me well, or has ever been in my presence, knows that I am a very easy going and kind person, but my photographs may suggest otherwise. My art reflects the side of me that I don’t share with others. I don’t do drugs and I don’t drink, so my only escape/release is my artwork, which can often be difficult, because I can be extremely shy, and shooting people is actually quite difficult for me.
For you, what’s first, the image or the idea? The image, always. My brain moves way too fast to grasp any idea or concept for a shoot. That explains why I don’t normally work in series. My photographs are like one big ongoing series as I continue to soul search every day. I used to be insecure about my process of making art, but then I realized we all work differently. Comparing yourself and your process to others is the worst thing anyone can do as an artist.
You also take pictures of objects and locations, like reality bites. Would you describe yourself as a street photographer? Street photography was actually the first style of photography I was drawn to, so in a sense, yes. But I don’t think I fall under any particular genre of photography, which can be frustrating at times. This also stems back to my overactive brain. My interests have always been varied, so I have a few different styles. But as of late, I’ve just been traveling with my point, shooting the camera, taking photos as I go, so yes, as of late, I have been more of a street photographer.
You’re very active on social media, like twitter and Instagram. Do you think that nowadays, for emerging artists, these kinds of platforms are the most important way to crash the scene? How do you link it to your work? Social media is tricky when it comes to sharing your artwork. My approach has always been to share my work from the beginning and let people follow my growth. My main goal as an artist is to inspire future generations to not be afraid to truly pursue their dreams, no matter their circumstances. But for some artists, like one of my best friends, Michael Thorpe, they like to build silently until they feel ready to share, something I respect tremendously, especially in this internet age, when instant fame is everyone’s goal.
My brain moves way too fast to grasp any idea or concept for a shoot. That explains why I don’t normally work in series. My photographs are like one big ongoing series as I continue to soul search every day.
How did you start shooting for Awful Records? Can you tell us the craziest story behind one of the images touring with them? It all really started due to my friendship with Ashley Romero (Awful Records photographer and Father’s girlfriend), she is one of my best friends and at the time was one of my only friends in the city. I was living in Woodstock/Acworth, Georgia, all the way up until April 2015. I would meet up with her and we’d hang out and talk about our dreams as photographers and whatnot; she introduced me to everyone in Awful. At the time I wasn’t familiar with their music, I just really enjoyed them as people. Then, eventually, I started going to their shows and taking photos, and hung out with them all the time. Po was the one who officially asked me to be in the group as of January of 2015. The craziest story by far was during the Cry $$$ Tour, at the infamous Oakland show. To make a super long story somewhat short, we got locked out of the van twice, one of them being my fault, which caused us to arrive at the venue an hour before the show was supposed to end. People were already leaving the venue because word got out that we weren’t coming, though Father tweeted that we were, so everyone was confused. Carti wasn’t on the van with us at this time, so he made it to the show way before us and performed, and yeah… We showed up much later. Then, somehow, someone who worked at the venue punched Gerry (Father’s manager), and all hell broke loose. It was bad, but hilarious now that I look back at it.
As you mentioned, you went on the Cry $$$ Tour with Father, Playboi Carti, KeithCharles, and Slug Christ last year. What was it like documenting that trip? The best and most dramatic month of my life. Before I left for the tour, I had a regular ass job that I couldn’t bare for one more day. So it was such a drastic change going from a 9 to 5 routine to touring the country with friends, having fans in every city. Every time I walked into the crowd to get a shot, there was a kid with a camera who looked up to me, and it was just so surreal at times. I was also going through a bad break up, so that added to the emotional ups and downs. But, overall, it was, honestly, the most fun I’ve ever had. I hope to go on more tours in the future.
Atlanta has been, arguably, the city with the strongest influence on musical urban genres, such as Hip-Hop and Soul. What does the emergence of new, creative acts, like Awful Records, mean for the future of these styles of music, or the culture in general? Awful Records, being as dominant as it is and coming from Atlanta, offers the weirdos hope, basically. We’re the outcast weird kids who weren’t supposed to make it, and that’s why we did. There are so many amazing artists out there who feel terrible about themselves every day because they don’t fit in, or feel like they don’t belong anywhere, and those are the kids that I think we inspire the most. You can be 100% yourself and do things your way, and make a difference. Conforming just isn’t an option for some of us, and we represent the people who have no other choice but to make art.
Do you prefer shooting artists and celebrities or do you rather work on personal, artistic projects, like the “Singles” featured on your website? Personal work for sure. Shooting people as themselves is still extremely difficult for me. I personally love to strip people of their identities and use them as a merely human presence for my work, so shooting other artists and celebrities is a constant challenge. But I’ve been working on it, because I know it’ll pay off in the future, and it also helps me fund my future personal projects.
How can our readers keep up with your artwork? Also, do you have any upcoming projects or publications that would like to share with us? They just have to keep up with my Instagram and Twitter accounts. I usually keep everyone up to date on my next moves. Right now I’m headed back to Atlanta, to work on a project called “Slime”, I’m not going to give any more details about it, just know it’ll be something new you wouldn’t expect from me.
Our magazine has a motto, RIDE LIFE. For you, what does these words mean? To me, RIDE LIFE means to go with the flow and continue on. Life has its ups and downs, but something in you will not let you give up. It’s fascinating really. My life is one giant adventure right now. I’m in my twenties and I’m exploring every city and place possible, bringing my cameras along with me.
Where do you want to ride to next? Right now I’m in Boston; I was born here. I’ll be heading back to Atlanta soon, to work on some stuff. I also might go to Miami for Basel, then I have an art show back in Boston. After that I’ll probably go to LA, and then I have an art show in Toronto at some point. I also want to spend time in Seattle and London this year.
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