Art has brought us landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes, but our generation has seen a new environment flourish: the Clubscape. Our Clubscape series aims to provide you a behind-the-scenes perspective on how rave culture is experienced, captured, and illuminated by electronic music's best photographers.
Growing up in the war-zone that is Tbilisi, Georgia, Nick Kachibaia is on another level of conditioned. After immigrating to Canada, the now Toronto-based photographer has etched out his career in film and photography through Destiny events like WEMF and gargantuan festivals like Burning Man. His experiences growing up throughout the collapse of the Soviet Union have swayed from the devastating side of photojournalism and more onto the beauty of nature and, of course, nightclubs. In 2013, he had established himself as a mainstay photographer in the city—with names like INK Entertainment and LiveNation mere notches in his photo bedpost—before being adopted by the distinguished Visualbass team. His new company, Ennkay Digital, is a fresh-faced look at the future of his photo and film career.
THUMP: What made you decide that you wanted to get into photography?
Nick Kachibaia: I actually didn't start with photography. I started by going to school at York University and took film and philosophy—double majored—but I started in film. When I was 15, I watched this film called Baraka. It's a non-verbal documentary. It's an hour and a half long but it's just stunning, it's what got me into film. I dropped out in my third year because I had an opportunity to shoot a documentary in Thailand for three months. I learned more in those three months than I did in three years of school. Instead of paying for tuition for the final year, I bought a camera—a 7D—and some lenses and started shooting parties.
What was the documentary about in Thailand?
It took place on two sets over the course of three months. We followed this kid around basically, almost like a day in the life. We introduced him to some NGOs to try to help some other kids in the same position. He lost his mom and dad and was living all alone there.
After Thailand, what were you shooting?
I started shooting events, actually. I started working for Destiny and did a lot of Destiny parties like WEMF. I scored my first video gig by getting one of my friends to sneak me on stage during Noisia, which at the time was my favourite DJ. It was also my first time ever renting the GlideCam. After being on that giant stage at WEMF and seeing the whole crowdscape, it became kind of an addiction. I feel like I'm missing a limb when I go to a party and I don't have my camera on me. I see the light hit off someone's face and I think 'oh man I could have got this shot.' I'm always thinking about that then I get depressed and leave. After WEMF, I started shooting more stuff for Destiny and then started working with Visualbass, Ink, and LiveNation.
How has electronic music influenced you?
I have always loved drum and bass, it's always been my thing. I don't really listen to it as much as I used to, but that's what really got me into the scene. I remember seeing Maria, The SUPERMANIAK's pictures and I was always blown away. I would go and try to find her at parties; she was always my big inspiration for shooting events. I just enjoy capturing that moment when all the hands go up or one strobe goes off at a huge club or festival.
This music kind of led me down a path which influenced me to want to interact more with the scene, rather than just be in the crowd. When I started shooting, I was able to put the two together. I find that parties have so much life in them—you can catch people reacting in so many different ways and there's so much colour in every moment. I really enjoy that, it's very visually appealing.
You shot for a lot of major events, Burning Man, for example.
That was definitely a passion project. I didn't know what I was going to do, I had my flights booked I was just going to go. It pulled me there. I couldn't go without my camera, I knew it was going to be dangerous to have my camera with all the sandstorms, so brought a few enclosures and never ended up using them. Someone had told me that I shouldn't take my camera and thank god I didn't listen. Burning man is crazy, every direction you look there is just something crazy going on. I could stay there forever just taking pictures, but even the pictures don't really fully encompass what it is.
When did you decide to get involved with Visualbass?
I remember Toby (Visualbass) approaching me once. At first, I didn't really know who he was but after talking for a bit he said to me 'you're next on the list,' which I didn't get. He's like, 'you'll see.' And soon after had me onto shoots with him. We really clicked. I had been shooting VELD and Digital Dreams previously on my own, but I find it's better to work as a team.
If someone has never seen your photography work and they see it for the first time can you explain it for them?
I would say my photography style's aim is to wow people, to show them something that they don't see every day. I like black and white too but I don't usually do that, I like something that almost screams colour—especially for festivals and events. I find people react to them much better.
My least favourite thing is when people tap me and ask me to take a picture of them, I've become a little bit snobby and walk away from them. I like capturing people within the moment, I like when people don't see me and I snipe them from somewhere. I like the grandeur of the festival—showing how big it is, the kind of vibe.
What else have you done outside of nightclub events?
I started shooting some stuff for OVO, some portrait stuff, a lot of nature. I just shot a documentary in Belize, a nature documentary. I've shot some sports before. I was shooting professional rugby back in my country where I was published in a newspaper there. But for now, this is it. I find that the club scene is getting very diluted and it's just not the same vibe. I don't really go out and shoot too many clubs anymore because when I'm there I don't feel the drive or the vibe like before. When I go to festivals it's different because it's a totally different vibe. I like doing more personal stuff, working one-on-one with DJs, that kind of stuff.
Future plans as a photographer?
I would really like to get more into portraiture. I have been pushing to do my editorial and creative stuff. I've actually gone into a couple of festivals with three of my films now. We actually just got into the Rockies, I have been doing some music video work and I started working with some other artists. It's going to be a great year I think.