kids of the underground

i've been a follower of 24 year old, verena stefanie's blog, "appeal to the eye" for quite some time now but it is her latest venture, "kids of the underground", that she is currently making her mark with. i met up with verena yesterday to find out a bit more about it.

dorrian: your project, "kids of the underground" how did it start? how did it come about?

verena: i'd been thinking about taking pictures of mcs many times but when i really had the "revelation" about developing a real project was in february 2010. i used to work in the offices of vivienne westwood but at the same time i was working as an assistant to the amazing photographer, james pearson howes. so one day he called me and told me, "hey v, would you like to assist me for a shooting i'll have for nylon guys magazine, it's gonna be about the grime scene in london." i couldn't believe what i was hearing, woo, hadn't slept all night. after having that photo shooting i finally realised what i really want to do in my life, being happy, and photographing and music make me happy, so what better combination than this one! so i started searching through the net, pictures and photography about grime, and actually, yeah, for the idea i had, there wasn't actually something concrete about it, but some photographers (who are doing a really good job that i admire). so i started calling, sending messages but you know, people asked me to show something, and
i didn't have anything to show, and nobody was giving me the possibility to show my skills and start taking some snaps!
then just jam came along, and from then on... everything started to take shape!
i want to do something like martha cooper and jamel shabazz di
d for the hip hop scene in its first years. i know i missed a lot about the grime scene, but i truly believe there's still a lot to document, and i'm trying to show it. something about now for the future!

d: how did you get into grime music? was it living in london?

v: to tell you the truth living in london helps me to get deeper in
to it, it's only when you actually live it that you can feel it! i used to listen to grime when i was living in italy and then when i moved to barcelona but it wasn't the same. i got into listening to grime thanks to dizzee rascal in 2003 (for everybody in uk it's normal listening to dizzee in 2003 but not for someone living in italy at that time) and i still thank my friend, dj king p, for putting "fix up look sharp" in one of the thousand cds he used to do for me.
d: is it hard to be accepted into the scene as a girl?

v: at first i thought it was gonna be hard for me because when you're a girl, you're not taken so seriously sometimes, still now when people follow and appreciate my photography, when it comes that they meet me personally it's like, "woo, i thought you were a guy", or i have comments like, "hey g", or "keep up the good job bro..." hahaha but the truth is that it doesn't make a lot of difference, or better they show me even more respect, for doing it and being a girl.

d: how has "kids of the underground" been received? have you had good feedback?

v: yeah actually, i didn't expect it and so early. especially from two weeks ago, i had a big shock, good one but still, because i'm receiving so many phone calls and emails for shoots, people appreciating it and especially i'm so honoured and grateful for all the support i'm receiving. that is what really matters, the support received and seeing that people appreciate what i am doing. also from big names, replying to my mails and offering their help, things that never happened when i was into the fashion world, when you're nobody there, nobody will "waste" their time to reply to you. twitter is one of the biggest networks for the grime scene and i've seen people re-tweeting what i've been saying, or re-tweeting my links, supporting me and that's amazing. this couldn't be happening if it wasn't for the mcs who are collaborating with me and the people supporting the blog.

d: before i met you i had been following your blog "appeal to the eye", but are you now focusing more of your attention on "kids of the underground" than your previous projects?

v: yes, now i am. "kids of the underground" is still a baby and needs much more attention, "appeal to the eye" is 4 years old, it's a little bit more independent hahaha. "appeal to the eye" is not dead, and i'm starting different collaboration with various magazines, especially with "bobos" in italy, where i'll have a monthly publication, and another magazine from australia. people appreciate what i'm doing now much more in this scene rather than the fashion scene. in the fashion scene it's more like killing each other, kicking each other. they don't want to see the quality of your photography or the quality of your work, they see you as a rival, (i mean between bloggers and street style photographers) even if they are not even those big names, it's not seen as, "we are doing something for the same passion, let's support each other".

d: what's your main ambition for "kids of the underground"? do you want to have an exhibition?

v: a show? i really hope i'll have an exhibition, but i wanna have much more material first. you have to believe in things, if you don't believe in yourself first, nobody else is gonna believe in you. so i would like to do exhibitions and maybe someday have a book published. the other day i saw someone on twitter calling me the "top grime photographer" and for me... really, i was flattered, i also called my mom. i don't feel like that now, but yeah, i tell you the truth, i would love to become that. so far, i will concentrate on working hard on it NOW, doing my best, get the most people involved (mcs-djs-producers) and yeah, the future is a mystery, but it is what i'll do now that will determine that.

d: finally, why did you choose to cover you face in the photograph i took?
v: i want people to focus on my photography and on "the kids of the underground" in my pictures, not on my face.

main profile photo by dorrian
all other photos by verena stefanie


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