I used to watch this guy sit in a recording studio and work for 5+ hours a day on a one track- every single day. We went to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts(NOCCA) together during our high school years. He studied recording and mixing while I made awful student films. I did some recording as well. What I have always appreciated about Christoph Andersson's personality is also reflected in his music: quality. Christoph is high quality. And if I knew what "high fidelity" meant, I would probably call him that too.
In 2010 we both entered into the Downbeat Student Music Awards, in the category "Engineered Live Recording". Christoph won 1st, and I came in 2nd. Now, I am not saying it was simply because Christoph was mixing in a half million dollar Pro Tools studio and I was mixing on a laptop, all I am saying is it's a shared studio space Christoph. Shared.
Even without monopolizing studio time, Christoph was clearly a stellar producer. He always struck me as a professional, even when we were both 18 years old. He takes himself and his work seriously, and I identified with that. We became friends over the course of our time at NOCCA, bonding over new episodes of "The Office" and being unconscionable smartassess.
We remained friends as we went separate ways, Christoph producing music for G Easy and touring with Little Wayne, and me shooting a documentary in Africa. I was producing the documentary as well, so I asked Christoph if he would write some music for the film. He turned out some beautiful cinematic tracks that took the film to the next level of production value. However, things were not going well between the director and I, and after a long and compelling conversation with Christoph, I decided to leave the project. I have always felt like I owed Christoph for that. Had he not been direct with me, and told me what I needed to hear, and not what I wanted to hear, I would have continued to compromise and lead myself down a dark path.
He gave me a proper perspective on my circumstances, and that made all the difference. I remember it was like a light switch, he pulled the wool from my eyes and I could see all the faults I was making excuses for. I suppose we are even now, for the studio space.
A few weeks before I moved to Los Angeles, Christoph asked me to take some photos of him to use for publicity. He had recently released his first EP under the name "Monopol". I think "Monopolizer" was taken.
As expected, the tracks are extremely well constructed, they are fun to listen to, and lyrically relevant. He sings about loyalty, identity, distrust, etc. Themes of our generation.
Christoph and I drove around New Orleans looking to shoot in any spot that did not look like New Orleans. It began to rain heavily, so we only talked. It quickly became evident how similar our lives have been, despite working in two entirely different industries. Our careers had evolved similarly, in that we indulged in the fun and glamour at first, and then moved towards more personal projects and introspection.
Christoph and I are the same age, but I believe we pass the torch back and forth when it comes to mentorship. We both have excelled and failed in different areas in life, and we continually find ways to pick each other up. He has been living and working in Los Angeles for several years now, so he had a lot of answers for me.
I asked Christoph if he thought there was any way I could get by in Los Angeles as a photographer without engaging heavily in social media. Like before, he told me what I needed to hear: "No". Christoph acknowledges the role social media, specifically Instagram, plays in his world. But we both agree it is toxic. My one caveat is that I do not blame the platform, but rather the way it is used. A popular Instagram feed is often nothing more than a carefully curated highlight reel of a person's life. Similar to the way we tend to only remember the good parts of a fond memory, Instagram only reveals the enviable moments of a person's day to day- naturally lit tetris-esque layouts and meals consisting prominently of avocado and fern leaves. The problem is, we do not see the pain, the minutia, the trivial, ugly, and unappealing moments in between those (clearly) fabricated scenes. And, for those of us still learning the expectations of society, and what a "normal" life looks like, these highlight reels can lead to severe feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. And a lot of times, this will lead to a young person to putting down their guitar or camera, and giving up on their creative or social desires because they cannot see how they will ever measure up to the seemingly elite and elevated status of a well-curated Instagram feed.
It is the nature of the beast, and it feeds us. There is no one effective and perfect way to sell yourself, or your art. But these platforms are helpful to self-promoting artists like Christoph, and myself. So, then, we co-exist. We utilize the tools and then put them back in the shed, and not in forefront of our minds.
I had a really fantastic time shooting, and I think he did as well. I look forward to shooting with him again. This shoot was especially encouraging to me, as I was preparing to move to Los Angeles and unsure of what direction to go in, within the photography world. As of now, I am quite sure I could be happy shooting more folks like Christoph and writing about our time together. I am not sure if that is a thing in Los Angeles. Maybe I can make it a thing.
Below is the Monopol 4 track EP. My favorite song on the EP is Haunting. It's all on Spotify too. Enjoy.