Ben Rayner is a British-born, New York-based photographer who's collaborated with VICE since the early days of his career. Today, Rayner's known for shooting covers of famous people for fancy magazines, though a good chunk of his subjects are just mates he's known since long before they hit it big.
In our photo column, Back Then with Ben Rayner, the artist goes back into his film archive and picks a series of snaps that are ten years old to the month. The following photos are from December, 2006.
I got into the habit of shooting everything a couple of years before 2006. At the time, some of these images looked like throw-away party photos, but today they feel significant to me. The youthful energy makes me happy every time I revisit them.
The majority of the photos from this month's column come from a pre-Christmas warehouse party organized by Real Gold, an art collective that promotes events, releases records, and puts out various ephemera by creative folks. The collective is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month, and I was fortunate enough to attend "A Large Party," which was Real Gold's first-ever event. It was held at the Wallis Gallery space in Hackney Wick, and featured music by the record label Young Turks, Merok Records, producer Martin Cole (RIP), Jack Penate, and NTS Radio founder Mr. Wonderful. Lots of grime and rap.
Real Gold's parties always had the best DJs and best people turning up. And they were organized without any sponsors. You'd see a who's who of music, fashion, and art at them, but they were pretty underground, pretty word of mouth. I remember that night vividly: People just letting loose in an abandoned warehouse.
The other photos below come from "The Klaxons Rave" a few weeks later at a venue called SE1 (or SeOne), which closed in 2010. The Klaxons were getting some serious traction, despite only having released a couple singles at the time. They had just returned from their first large tour, and this concert was almost like a pre-holiday homecoming show. There are some snaps of a young Kate Nash and Dev Hynes at the gig, too. I became friends with the band through other friends, and I ended up going on tour with them. The energy at this show was amazing. Everyone was just having a really great time. I hope that energy comes through in these photos.