Regardless of how much one tends to love urbanity and its accompanying attributes - good and bad - it is a safe bet to state that the megacities of South East Asia in particular will test anyone’s limits. They’re dense, busy, chaotic, smelly, sticky and not that easy to decode when you’re not aware of the local language. Not only during the daytime, but 24/7. It’s the city that’s most definitely in command and not you - and that could lead to some increasing spiritual damage for some or an incredibly captivating effect on others for exactly these reasons. The furious rhythm Hong Kong offers seems to be a particularly intriguing one.
German photographer Andreas Demeter has lost his heart to HK since he first visited the place ten years ago. He still deejays and produces music under his Kid Fresh moniker - as a matter of fact he was Germany’s first ITF world DJ champion ever... check his performances on YouTube and get ready to weep - but if it wasn’t for the genuine sense of style of the Cantonese metropolis, he would probably still shoot the occasional snapshot with his smartphone only. Lodown hooked up with the very talented Herr Demeter in late May.
Andreas, what brought you to HK in the first place? Judging from your portfolio you seem to have a soft spot for the big cities of the Far East in general...
I came to HK during my first time of touring across Asia as a DJ a decade ago, and I fell in love with the place immediately. Having been bored of living in Germany made me pack a suitcase, move to HK, and sort of start from zero out there shortly after. I enjoy the raw energy, intensity and anonymity of the Asian megacities. Of course it gets tiring too, so I’m trying my best to keep a balance. Right now I’m spending time in Switzerland, waking up to clean air and birds chirping every morning, a welcome contrast to the sounds of jackhammers, car horns, and constant whitenoise from the millions of aircon units around me.
Would you say that youth culture in South East Asia is very different to the one in Europe these days? Is it still important to belong to a particular scene and live it to the fullest?
The lines between the different scenes that I grew up around, are blurring, as people have instant access to music/ fashion subculture online these days. There used to be all these codes, like, you can’t just walk into certain districts wearing certain clothes without getting called out and tested. Like, if you wear Supreme you better be able to at least pull a decent kickflip, if you rock a bomber and Air Max meant you hang with drug dealers, Gs and/or Hooligans, if you were wearing band merch then it was pretty safe to assume that you possess albums of that band, etc etc. Nowadays young folks see something online and imitate it because it looks cool or because it’s hyped, without necessarily knowing much about it, and without the need to identify with a certain particular scene. Same with music, people are way less hardline these days about certain niches and scenes they choose to identify themselves with. However, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. There’s less segregation and more unity, less bigotry and more open-mindedness.
I guess it’s no coincidence that rooftops work as a backdrop for a lot of your shoots, right?
Sneaking onto rooftops is one of my favorite things to do. With or without my camera, with friends or just by myself. Especially in Hong Kong it’s a nice way to avoid the crowds, have some sort of privacy, and of course enjoy the surreal views.
Why do you prefer to still shoot on film in 2017?
First of all I love the look of it. The colors, the grain, that specific dirtiness to it. I also like the fact that it’s limiting and it makes me put more thought into a frame before I press the shutter. I’m way less “trigger happy” than with a digital camera. Not getting instant gratification/ security by seeing/ knowing what you just shot is an exciting factor to me too. On the other hand, I am not a hardliner either when it comes to analog. There’s a certain beauty about digital photography too, like I love the convenience and the precision of it. And it can look damn good as well of course. Tools are just tools after all. The vibe of those involved in front and behind the camera has to be right in order to create some magic. Mutual respect and appreciation sure helps. Sometimes I have certain images in my mind before I shoot, and I’m trying to manifest those. Sometimes you run into situations that are rather unpredictable and surprising, and I’m more than open to that as well. It’s probably a mix of planning vs. improvisation that does the trick for me.
How does your photography intervene with your passion for music? Do you feel that your alter ego Kid Fresh has to make room for Andreas Demeter anytime soon... maybe even once and for all?
I’ve always had a strong appreciation for visual arts, photography and cinematography, and I’ve been telling myself for a while now that if I ever lose my hearing, I’ll switch my focus from audio to visual. I still love to deejay and make music, and my hearing is still quite alright at this point, but a) to be honest I’ve been rather bored and probably jaded by the majority of nightlife, clubs and the “DJ scene” lately after all this time, and b) photography brings me the most joy right now and there’s so much to learn. That’s all I know.
I just showed my first exhibition in Zurich last month, and I’m currently working on the next ones in Berlin and Hong Kong. I’ll return to Asia this summer, doing a month-long Tour as a DJ across 10 cities in China, I’ll try to visit Japan again in autumn, and yeah, just doing my best to stay creative and productive. Keep it moving, so to say.