Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Mitch Ikeda, photographer
In January 2003, I interviewed the Japanese photographer Mitch Ikeda, famous for taking pictures of the Manic Street Preachers and Oasis. The interview consists of questions emailed, translated into Japanese, then with answers returned in Japanese. Despite 'hanging out' with British rock bands, it seems that Mitch's English is pretty non-existent, while his Japanese answers suggested some of the surly insouciance of the rock stars he snaps had rubbed off on him.
CBL: I saw your exhibition at Proud, Camden, in London. Are you going to have a similar exhibition in Japan?
MI: Thank you for coming. In Japan they won't have the same exhibition. It'll be one third the size and only for one night.
CBL: I saw the book, Forever Delayed in the U.K. Has this book been released in Japan? Will it?
MI: They are not going to sell it in Japan, so people will have to get it as an import.
CBL: Do you have any activities planned to coincide with the Manics' tour of Japan this month?
MI: I haven't thought of it yet?
CBL: How did you get to become the Manics' official photographer?
MI: It was destiny.
CBL: What is your approach to photographing the Manics? What do you look for or focus on?
MI: I've never thought of it. Always natural.
CBL: What are the problems photographing a rock band?
CBL: You have been photographing them for a long time. How has the band changed in that time?
MI: They've got older.
CBL: How aware were you of Richey cracking up? How did his disappearance affect the other three?
MI: Laugh. Please ask the 'other three' about Richey.
CBL: There are a lot of Japanese touches in the pictures, e.g.: James Dean Bradfield's Mishima crucifixion pose; Nicky with a kanji ring, wearing 'Super Lovers' clothes, and posing with a noren; Sean wearing 'Final Home' clothes, etc. How much of this is due to you?
MI: There's no influence from myself.
CBL: Do you think Sony tried to make the band appeal to Japanese audiences by appointing a Japanese as the official photographer?
MI: I've never thought of that. This is very stupid question.
CBL: The Manics often come to Japan. How do they react to Japanese culture and society?
MI: Laugh. I don't think they come that frequently. I think it might be the opposite. Incidentally, doesn't Paul Weller come many times? Maybe both don't come enough. Are they reacting to Japanese culture and society? I don't really know.
CBL: Which is your favourite picture?
MI: I love them all because they are mine.
CBL: I particularly liked number 165, the picture of Richey jumping with a guitar. It's a truly iconic image of him, suggesting crucifixion and suicide. How did this shot happen?
MI: I took this photo at a photo shoot.
CBL: What did you think of this picture later? Did you feel there was a kind of prophecy of his self-destruction in this image?
CBL: Do you think the camera is capable of sometimes catching mysterious aspects of a person, things that we can't normally see, like their ghost, spirit, or a prophecy of their future?
CBL: Which photographers have influenced you the most?
MI: Ken Domon, Eiko Hosoe, Kishin Shinoyama, Daido Moriyama, Penny Smith.
CBL: How much time do you normally spend with the Manics every year? What do you do when you are not with them?
MI: Every year it's decreasing. Though I used to live in London, now I've got children. It's decreasing more and more because of children.
CBL: How was the trip to Cuba? What was your impression of Fidel Castro?
MI: It was the best. He's a totally wonderful person.
CBL: What did Nicky and Castro talk about?
MI: After the concert, they met Castro. Nicky asked Castro, was it loud? Castro replied, the sound of battle is louder.
CBL: When my brother interviewed James Dean Bradfield earlier this year, he told him that he was hoping to cut back on his smoking and climb Mt. Fuji with you. Did he?
MI: Laugh. No, he hasn't said that yet. I would definitely do it. Perhaps he's the kind of guy who can see the god.