Going deeper and further under ground is what drives aboveground to new experimental highs and heights – it's the fine balance between creative madness and heartfelt singularity which gives him life.
What is your favourite way to portrait girls and women? They always seem strong and empowered, but also bad and dirty.
Keep it straight and short. In most cases I know exactly what the final image is going to look like. I usually take around 5 photographs per subject instead of splashing a whole roll on one scene. I need to work with more females, girls are way easier to work with. I have no clue how I find the balance to empower bad bitches but having respect and manners towards women helps.
In your face photography: Your analogue takes have an aggressive graininess to it, while your double exposures make the characters pop out of the image. Do you like to experiment with your photography - or is there a strategy behind every shot?
I got into photography by accident so experimental way to shoot has always been my preference. With all honesty, most of my double exposure images happened by a mistake. On the nights out I’d just get the films mixed up and instead of shooting blanks I’d use exposed films which would later turn into crazy double, triple, whatever exposures. It’s sick I love it.
What does a day in your life look like - what is your routine?
Ah, man I wish I had a routine. My routines can fall apart after one phone call. Sometimes my phone rings and I end up on the different side of the world by the next morning. I don’t have an agent so the way I deal with things is very personal and 1 on 1. My brain is a mental asylum. The only thing saving me is my work ethic. I take all this shit very seriously so even If I end up spending three days getting activated, graffing and causing mayhem, shit is still getting done. What I do and a regular life routine simply don’t mix together. I eat a lot of ramen and stay hydrated though.
What do you hate about yourself? Is there a thing you hate about society?
I could find many things that I hate and dislike about myself. I’m sure other people could do too. But you see I’m playing on my insecurities, weaknesses and cons. My whole drive and confidence is fuelled by it in a very weird way.
Society doesn’t bother me too much. Even though I had a real difficult time dealing with legal law this year I live in my own world that doesn’t have many rules, profiles and stereotypes. There’s always things I could complain about, but I’d rather keep myself to myself.
What do you do, when you feel uninspired versus what does inspire you the most at the moment? (film, music, people, art, nature, animals, whatevs)
When inspiration gives up on me I freak the fuck out and give up on myself. I get sick of my own work and everything I do starts to turn into ash in my own eyes. I get these breakdowns every 3 months, it’s part of my diet and creative process I guess.
Usually music is my main source of inspiration. Phil Collins, Alabama 3, ignorant Memphis rap and that DIY low-fi shit is the combo that gets me out of bed nowadays.
What’s your background: where does above ground come from - why that name?
I grew up in Eastern Europe. Spent 18 years of my life living there. I moved to UK when I was 19, started travelling Europe in my early 20’s and a few years later New York became the main travel destination. That’s where AboveGround really developed its name and style I believe. I came up with the name/concept around the time I quit my job and my graffiti activities took over. I was fascinated with the illegal underground world which later turned into a pseudonym Aboveground. The concept became more versatile during the last few years but the base remained the same.
Who were your heroes as a kid - and why?
Don’t deep this one too much but my only hero up to this day is my dad. He passed away when I was two. I don’t have any memories with him apart from a few photographs that my mum managed to save. But many people told me how his mind worked and how much of a hero he was. Kudos to him!
words FRANCIS SALVATOR
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