We catch up with Ciesay ahead of the release of the first full-sized P+F magazine, feat. all your favourite artists – from Lil Yachty to Playboi Carti and Frank Ocean
If you’re into rap, Ciesay and Soulz are two names that you should know – or already do. They’re the duo behind Places+Faces, the Tumblr turned legit photography and streetwear brand, and now magazine. Having spent the past few years documenting contemporary rap culture, treating their followers to photos of their favourite artists (think Kanye, Drake, Frank Ocean, A$AP and even Chloë Sevigny), the pair is now releasing a print magazine. Out next month, the issue represents their best work to date – amazing pictures pulled together into a glossy mag that’s sure to be lapped up by their friends, followers and fans.
The thing that sets Ciesay and Soulz apart is that they’re not observing a scene like a lot of photographers and journalists; they’re fully integrated into it – and this comes through in their pictures. Instead of staged, styled shoots, they capture their subjects in their natural environment, either in the throes of their performances or chilling out backstage. In the print magazine, you’ll see Frank, Lil Yachty, Playboi Carti, Skepta and JME, among countless others. However the mag also demonstrates other sides to the pair’s photography too – there’s a series of people kissing in nightclubs by Ciesay and a shoot featuring a couple he knows, who shave each other’s heads.
Ahead of the magazine’s launch on May 9th, we catch up with Ciesay about the magazine and its making, why he hopes it’ll end up in a museum one day, and how they managed to shoot the ever-elusive Frank Ocean.
“I never released those pictures because I didn’t want people to see them on Instagram and forget about them in a week” – Ciesay
So why have you done a magazine?
Ciesay: We’ve done a magazine because it felt like the next stage for Places+Faces. We started off on the internet, putting images on Tumblr and then, you know, Instagram. But I wanted to elevate Places+Faces and take it to a whole new level.
It does feel like a natural progression for you. You know, you’ve already got your audience and, if you’ll forgive the term, fanbase. A lot of print magazines are trying to build a social media audience, whereas you’ve already got that. So have you done it for them?
Ciesay: Yeah definitely. Because we’ve already built an audience, it’s like ‘How can I provide for them more?’ Instead of being like ‘Here’s your favourite artists on Instagram’, it’s being like ‘Hey, I spent the past year with your favourite artists and here are some of photos that have never been released, in a physical format that you can cherish.’
Is there a theme to this issue? What ties together this body of work?
Ciesay: For Soulz, my partner, and I, Places+Faces has always been a journey. The content in the magazine represents different places: we have photos from when I went to The Gambia two years ago, and then we have photos from when I did a shoot with Playboi Carti in Miami, and from when I was in Paris for a couple of months. It’s a journey. You can see the different places within the faces. It’s a journey around the world, hanging out with people, shooting people.
I feel like what sets your magazine – and Places+Faces more broadly – apart from other magazines is that you’re not observing the scene, you’re fully integrated into it. You’re hanging out with these people and shooting them in their natural environment instead of doing staged shoots.
Ciesay: Yeah, everything is natural. None of these shoots were planned. For example with Playboi Carti, we were just in Miami. I got hired to shoot a festival and he was performing at the festival. The day after we had nothing to do, so we were just like ‘Let’s shoot.’ I never released those pictures because I didn’t want people to see them on Instagram and forget about them in a week. I wanted to save them for something more. But yeah, a lot of the photos are like that – us hanging out with our friends.
For you, what’s the allure of print?
Ciesay: I like print because it’s something that you can have for a long time. You can always go back to it. I have issues of Dazed and i-D from ten or twenty years ago. I still have them. For me, I want a kid or someone to collect copies of Places+Faces so in ten or twenty years they can show their kids what was popping, what the culture was like. I want to feel like museums, after I’m dead, will have my magazine and be like ‘This is what was happening in the 2010s.’
So you’re pretty much documenting what’s going on around you?
Ciesay: Pretty much, yeah.
Can you tell me about some of the stories, like the one with the couple?
Ciesay: The couple are Nathan and Hazel. As much as I am a documenter, I still want to expand my skills as a photographer. Everyone knows that I shoot artists, but not a lot of people know that I do shoots. I wanted to showcase my skills. And I want the magazine to be a mixture of things that inspire me. This couple, they both shave each other’s heads. They’re one of my favourite couples and I wanted to feature them.
And what about the series of people kissing?
Ciesay: I always see people kissing in the club and thought ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I document them?’ I’d like to make a book out of it in a couple of years, so this is the teaser for that.
There’s also a picture of one of the most elusive figures in music, Frank Ocean. How did you manage to take that?
Ciesay: That was actually taken by Soulz. He went to Lil Yachty’s show when he first came to London last year. He went to the show and Frank Ocean pulled up and he was just hanging out backstage. He recognised Soulz’ Places+Faces sweater and Soulz was like ‘Can I take a photo of you’ and he was down for it. Yachty was super excited, like a kid in a candy store, whereas Frank is just doing his thing.
And there’s also a series of photos of girls.
Ciesay: Yeah, from the first time we dropped our merch, we’ve shot it on girls. We love seeing girls wearing our clothes. These girls are some of our friends, like Jordyn Woods, Adesuwa and Leomie Anderson. We didn’t want to make it just about guys and the rap scene, but about girls too.
Finally, what’s your favourite picture in the magazine?
Ciesay: My favourite picture in the mag is the Lamborghini and the police cars. There was this fight that happened outside Visions and the police came. It’s a sick photo because of the juxtaposition – you have this super expensive car, in east London, and there’s this fight and two police cars. That is the London scene. You can go to Visions in Dalston, which is the grimiest slash the most popular area in London right now, and you have the most expensive car, and you still have the police surrounding the area like a horrible crime has gone down.
What’s next for Places+Faces?
Ciesay: We’re figuring out what we want to do next. We’ve done merch, we’ve done our first magazine – I don’t know, maybe some day a Places+Faces nightclub or restaurant.
A restaurant would be cool (laughs).
Ciesay: (laughs) Yeah.
The magazine launches on May 9th, 2017