London-based radio station and label, Rinse FM, has been at the top of its game championing the diverse sounds of young artists and showcasing underground music blending the likes of Dubstep, UK Funky and Grime. Launching this August, Rinse Presents: A Visual Retrospective – The Work Of Shaun Bloodworth & Give Up Art is a ten-day exhibition celebrating the visual design and photography of the seminal radio station and label. Give Up Art, founded by Stuart & Emma Hammersley, has worked on every Tempa release alongside work for FWD>> and the redesign of the Rinse identity. In 2005 they began collaborating with photographer Shaun Bloodworth whose collection of photography documents the releases and events that Rinse has put on over the last 17 years. We speak to Bloodworth about his involvement with the label and how it all came about...
Dazed Digital: How did you first start working with Rinse?
Shaun Bloodworth: Working with Rinse came from a natural progression from the work I'd done previously with Tempa. I'd done probably two years of CD covers wth them through GiveUpArt, the first as a returned favour for jobs Stu had given me when he was working as an Art Director on magazines. Rinse was beginning to become something much much bigger than your average pirate station , for a start it had a definite agenda of where it wanted to be in a few years, and out of that developed the brand design and use of photography through a series of mix CDs. They are a very forward-thinking set up.
DD: Do you feel the scene is also an integral part of your life or do you feel more as an observer? What are you listening to at the moment?
Shaun Bloodworth: Yes music photography is very much a key part of what I produce now. I'll always be an observer though, as that's what interest me, documentation of life that soon disappears. The fact that I can't remember track names or know nothing of how to mix leaves me with a sense of being an amateur in the scene, so it always feels fresh to me. Photographers tend to struggle through commercial work to find what they really want to record, for some it never happens, so I know I've been lucky.
At this very moment I'm listening to a massive mix by Blawan, who I photographed a few months ago in Sheffield. Then I listen to mixes and podcasts - usually the Hessle and NMBRS podcasts on Rinse and a mix Eclair Fifi did for FACT Mag has been getting a lot of play. Scratchas show in the morning is great fun, and when I'm up I'll listen to it.
DD: How did you attempt to capture the spirit of the label/show?
Shaun Bloodworth: Stuart Hammersley really takes the credit for how the Rinse mixes look, Photographic branding, an understanding of having to work quickly and anywhere using very simple devices like a squared up portrait direct to camera, against a flat wall, usually where the artists are playing in limited time spans. A lot of the shoots take place outside clubs, and I think that works very nicely for us, in that people feel we've come to them, they are on their home territory so feel at ease. If we have captured the spirit then it's something that has developed out of attending events and immersing ourselves in them. Stuart's style is very bold with big colours whereas mine is very muted and perhaps a bit dark, so I think it was a solid combination of the ups and downs of being in the music world. One other thing I try to do, is not to use flash in the clubs as it kills the atmosphere for me, and its not how you see it as a punter. I like that reality, and Rinse is like that, with both feet planted firmly on the floor, honest to its roots and audience.
DD: Do you think your collaboration with Rinse has created a distinctive identity for them?
Shaun Bloodworth: I hope so. Soulja and Geeneus have always been very supportive to what we do , and have a sharp understanding of how that image is key part to what they produce - it's very rare to find clients in any sector who have total trust in what you do. Rinse always talks about itself as a family too, you contribute and become part of a wider family - I like that a lot, working individually but being part of a whole, and it benefits everyone as you want your product to be better than the rest.
DD: What is your favourite image from the show?
Shaun Bloodworth: From a personal level - there's a picture of Pinch at the decks of FWD>> because it was a wonderful time to be involved in a developing scene, the Horsepower picture which was done under a disused railways line, Benny Ill looks fantastic in it, haunted. My all time favourite is Hudson Mohawke in a pile of plastic cups which was just a magical moment when it all went to plan, even down to Stuart bartering with a builder to use his ladder. I knew we'd got it even before I'd set up. Great fun.
The exhibition shows at the Truman Brewery Gallery – shop 14, Hanbury Street from 12th to 21st of August, private view on Thursday the 11th. The exhibition also falls on the 10th anniversary of the Rinse-afflilated, FWD>> club night on 20th August.