Photographer and Beat Maker, Fabian Blache a.k.a. Sohlobeats, Mastering Chill Style of Sound and Imagery
by Lazarus Lynch
A few weeks ago, the New Orleans based photographer and beat-maker, Fabian Blache (also known by his Instagram handle, @sohlobeats) took his first trip to New York City. I caught up with him venturing some of the city's culture hubs: Chinatown, Little Italy, and K-Town. Despite the fact that we had only met virtually through Instagram, it wasn't long before he pulled out his camera and started to capture every and anything he found to be interesting, including me. His curiosity and keenness to capture the interconnectedness of life around him fascinated me. I sat down with Sohlobeats to learn more about his process, this is what he told me:
LL How would you describe your artistic aesthetic?
SOHLOBEATS You know, when I first started photography, I played around with different styles. I took a photography class, and I used friends as models; I was just trying to figure out my style. But I always knew I wanted to capture the every day moments — things people don’t really notice. I like the more modern look of photography and I also like taking pictures of people, whether they realize it or don’t realize it. I like getting people in their environment. I prefer doing it [photography] in the urban environment. Growing up in kind of a city, Baton Rouge… I’ve always wanted to capture people in that.
My style is more so minimal. It has minimal characteristics of people in the urban environment.
LL On your feed you have portraits, landscape, drone photography, and now food photography. What are the stories you love to tell the most through your photography?
SOHLOBEATS The most, I would say people living their every day life. I don’t want to take pictures of famous people, or wealthy and rich people… I’m not really big on taking pictures of fancy cars [they’re nice], but my essential is catching a person [persons] experiencing something. I like catching day-to-day normal moments.
Recently, I put up a picture of a spot in Chinatown. It’s a window shot and I’m standing outside and you can see me snapping the picture in the shot, which I do like. You could see these ladies behind the window working. One of them looks tired [the younger girl]. and the older lady looks more energetic and happy. It’s kinda funny because here you have this younger person in a traditional environment, but she doesn’t look excited whereas the older lady does. I love showing things of that nature. If I can snap a shot and it shows some kind of social challenge, then that’s what I really want to show. I’m not trying to throw it in your face, but if you look hard enough, you’ll be like, “Wait a minute. Look at this.”
I’m more so concerned with: did you see it and really think about it, or did you just double-tap and scroll past?
LL I’m just curious, how important is it to you to have people leave comments or like your work on social media?
SOHLOBEATS I never expected the amount of feedback and connections that I do get, currently. I would like to get more, yes, but I’m still on the journey getting there, it’s growing every month so that’s good. I really do appreciate comments, but I’m not really searching for comments. I’m more so concerned with: did you see it and really think about it, or did you just double-tap and scroll past? Are you really seeing what I’m showing you here? I’m really about the mood. I want you to feel it and pick up on the mood of my pictures and tones on the page, rather than saying, “Oh this is great.” There are times when people have said, “Your work is amazing,” or “I love your tonal player.” That stuff stands out to me so much because it’s like wow, you got it. You saw what I’m doing here and it resonated with you. I really appreciate that.
But at least I’ve found my style of sound and imagery. The ultimate goal is for them to come together, for them to compliment each other.
LL Who inspires you?
SOHLOBEATS I definitely would say my biggest influencer on my photography is a guy that goes by TAKU, who also does photography and beat-making. I like how he takes these simple moments, whether it be people in transit, taxi drivers, people walking the streets. He’s the ultimate street photographer and just shows you the world with a unique tone set, and minimal way.
LL As an artist, what do you hope to do through your work?
SOHLOBEATS The ultimate goal, I do go by the name Sohlobeats… I’ve been working more and more on mastering my chill style. I have found my style, now it’s just about enhancing it and getting it better and better. It’s still like that with pictures; there’s always room to improve. But at least I’ve found my style of sound and imagery. The ultimate goal is for them to come together, for them to compliment each other. I want you to not only hear my sounds and chill beats, but I want you to see and feel that mood. It’s all about creating that chill mood, and even though it’s chill, it’s still showing you the world through people… I’m just taking my time and trying to master the craft.
LL Favorite fried chicken spot in NOLA?
SOHLOBEATS We Dat Chicken & Shrimp!!
You can follow Sohlobeats on Instagram.
by Lazarus Lynch
WATCH FULL EPISODE ON YOUTUBE.
After cooking two of her favorite foods, Galla Pinto and Banana Pudding, my brother and I met up with the artist in her Brooklyn neighborhood to talk about her musical journey and upcoming projects.
Kennedy (a.k.a. Prez) of The Kennedy Administration isn't all that new to the New York City music scene. After moving from her hometown of Detroit, Michigan a few years ago, it wasn't long before the artist broke through the saturated industry, introducing a new vocal sound reminiscent of iconic predecessors Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, and Chaka Khan. Her instrumental trio band is comprised of band leader and award-winning recording artist, Ondre J, Nat Townsley (drummer), and Cheltune Grey (bass player). The band has a weekly residence every Wednesday night at The Groove, a performance venue in New York City's Greenwich Village. The Kennedy Administration excells in a number of musical genres ranging from covers to originals with variations of contemporary jazz with a flair of R&B, hip-hop, and pop. Not to mention the occasional elements of funk that spontaneously enters in an improvisational performance.
Here is a snippet of my Soul Food Talks Interview with Kennedy (PREZ):
LL Prez, you're such an incredible person, first of all, and you're also an amazing artist. Tell me about your journey in music. How did it all start for you?
KENNEDY OMG... I believe I was probably singing since I was in the womb. My mom was the praise team leader at this small church [my grandparent's church], my dad played bass. From as long as I could remember, my earliest memories I've been singing and bopping around with barettes in my hair, and just kicking my feet to the music. It's always been there. I just didn't realize how important it was to me until I got to the amazing age of six. I was at a funeral actually for an organ player. People were crying and stuff but the music sounded so good. I remember holding the back of the pew and just rocking to the music and just feeling overwhelmed with this (makes a gasping expression), and I knew I really liked it. I tried to explain it but I scared everybody.
LL What did you say to them?
KENNEDY I was like, "I got all this feeling..." and she [my mom] was like 'what?' She just thought I was filled with the spirit. I was like, "No. It wasn't Jesus this time, it was something else." So, I've continued having that feeling.
LL I've watched you at your show you do every Wednesday night at the Groove, here in New York City. What is it like being on that stage?
KENNEDY For me, it feels like that's the one place I'm supposed to be. I feel like I'm flying. I feel like I throw the notes out and I place them amongst the stars. That's how it feels to me. It just feels natural, like that's where I'm supposed to be.
LL Tell me about your EP?
KENNEDY It's so weird to see myself on that [cover], I'm like, "oh it's me." It's been an incredible journey just putting it together... Being more than just a singer. Writing and being creative and coming up with real concepts and ideas for the music. It's been great. It was a little terrifying at first, because you're trying to come from a perspective, at least for me, where people 'get it.' We [as people and artists] have all these internal conversations, but it's like taking all those internal conversations and actually putting them down on paper and them making sense. Then, singing those conversations out loud. It was great. I had a couple moments when I was like, "I don't know what I'm doing."
LL You're working with some amazing people: Ondre J Pivec, Jordan Peters, Jay White, Chelton Grey, Nathaniel 'Nat' Townsley... Amazing people; people who's music I respect. What was it like working with them?
KENNEDY Honestly, I'm the baby in the group because they all have years of experience. Nat Townsley has worked with Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey, his resume is incredible. So, just to be around that energy... it was awesome just watching them give themselves and watching them chime in like "on that next verse, let's try this." I was able to just learn, you know. You can't pay for that... My friend/bandmate/producer, Ondre J Pivec, did such an incredible job. So, it's been so incredible to be in the studio and they're like, "does this sound good, Kennedy?" And I'm like inside [squealing] "oh my God, I love it," and I'm like "oh it's cool, whatever you want to do." It was just incredible.
LL Favorite Artists?
KENNEDY I can't say that I have like a favorite artist. I draw some from different people. I guess people who are really influential to me it would be Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews. You know Dave would just start screaming or yoddling and at first when I heard it, I was like, "what is this? This is crazy," but it inspired me. Some of the liberties I take, musically, are from listening to his music. Kim Burrell, Chaka Khan -- she's was just flat-footed and sang. No autotune. Nobody like, "huh" [struggling to get her on pitch]; she was dead on the note and I love her. Michael Jackson. Michael, for me, was huge. His album, "Off The Wall," you could just feel the energy. You could feel how excited he is [was] to do it.
by Lazarus Lynch
"As I strolled through New York's East Village Easter Sunday morning, I discovered a brick wall that immediately drew me in... I looked at the bottom of the wall and for the first time noticed those six letters: HEKTAD."
As I strolled through New York's East Village Easter Sunday morning, I discovered a brick wall that immediately drew me in. It was unlike any other brick wall I passed by that morning; it was a wall with a message. The message was powerful, yet subtle enough that I almost kept walking. I stopped to take a closer look at the wall. I studied it as though I were standing in front of a classic art piece at the Museum of Modern Art. The wall was covered in beautiful colors that made the shape of a heart. The brightly covered heart was huge covering up the surface of that black wall.
I decided to take a picture of the wall and share it on my Instagram Stories. I pulled out my iPhone, stepped back, and took the shot. I looked at the bottom of the wall and for the first time noticed those six letters: HEKTAD. I typed the letters into my stories and there it was: @HEKTAD._OFFICIAL. I mentioned him and posted the picture. Hours later, I got a message from HEKTAD saying, "Awesome shot." I quickly responded, "Dope art." HEKTAD sent me an invitation flyer promoting a recent mural at 39 Spring Street. I responding that I would try and stop by -- and I did.
When I arrived at 39 Spring Street, I saw a group of people standing around, talking in front of the mural. The front of the building was covered in bursts of paint -- highs of blue, pink, red, green, and yellow, similar to tie dyed tones. At the center of the wall were two doors with a heart painted on it. Inside the heart were the words, I Choose Love. Inside the building were more paintings from HEKTAD both on the walls and in frames. Each pieces was signed by the artists name, HEKTAD.
When I finally met HEKTAD, he was leaning against a car outside. He was dressed humbly with a baseball cap, a t-shirt, and jeans with dried paint on them. I congratulated him on his work and asked if I could interview him. He kindly agreed. Here's a snippet from our interview:
LL: Where does the name HEKTAD come from?
HEKTAD: HEK is my graffiti name. TAD is the crew I had growing up in the Bronx. TAD stands for Toy's Aint Down. We were artists (a.k.a. vandalis). I stood with the crew. We used to paint on everything.
LL: When did you start making street art?
HEKTAD: In 1982. I came back to it. I had children and stopped for a while but I'm friends with Banksy and he told me, "Man, now is the time." I would say he helped me get back to doing street art.
LL: Where can people find your art?
HEKTAD: It's all over... I put a piano at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge a few years ago. My work is at (former) Yaffa Cafe in the East Village, First Street and Houston, West 23rd Street Wall... it's all over.
LL: What keeps you going as an artist?
HEKTAD: It's an addiction. I just love it. I love painting, I love sharing my work with people... it's love for the work.
LL: What advice would you give to young artist?
HEKTAD: Don't think about the money. Do it for the love. Whatever you do -- music, art, cooking -- do it because you love it. People loose it when they think about the money. Think about your craft. Also make a name for yourself.
Follow HEKTAD on Instagram.