February, 2012

Freshjive Moving Pictures – An Interview With Michael Miller

February 03 2012 . 02:01am

“It was Mike Miller who got me into photography. I met Mike around 1989 when I started Freshjive. Rap music was making a progressive step on the West Coast and the relatively few people that were really into that music and that scene in Los Angeles tended to know one another or frequent the same spots.

Mike Miller is effortlessly and sincerely the real deal, and I don’t throw those words around lightly. Besides the immense amount of influential work, his ease, confidence and personal ethos has been a major inspiration to me, and this video is an effort to pass that inspiration around the world like a big fat community blunt.”

Rick Klotz

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INTERVIEW 001 | MICHAEL MILLER for Artillery Magazine

February 03 2012 . 01:55am

Interview by Luke Shirlaw exclusively for Artillery Magazine.
Artillery script handwritten by Michael Miller.
Photographs by Michael Miller, courtesy of Known Gallery and Michael Miller.


It’s pushing 11pm in Brisbane, Australia and here I am sitting and staring at my computer screen, attempting to weave together a series of words that will leave a vivid impression of the role that Michael Miller has played in capturing the explosion of the West Coast Hip Hop scene. After all it’s what his legacy deserves.

I was eight years old when Michael Miller photographed his first rapper; Arabian Prince in Los Angeles. At that time my closest exposure to hip hop music was Salt-n-Pepa’s ‘Push It’ via the compilation record; ‘88 The Winners’.

It wasn’t until my early to mid teens that I would come into contact with Michael’s photographs while starting to discover and collect the music of Cypress Hill, Snoop Doggy Dogg, 2pac and House of Pain. It was even later, as a grown-ass man in my thirties, that I would finally discover the man behind these iconic photographs was Michael Miller.

In the meantime, Miller was busy building an “expansive portfolio that includes over 300 major record covers, the most iconic supermodels of the ’90s and some of the biggest names in rap and jazz”.

With his book ‘West Coast Hip Hop | A History In Pictures’ hot off the press and an exhibition opening at Known Gallery in Los Angeles this Saturday night, I managed to pin Michael down for a quick interview before he jumped on a plane to San Francisco. –Luke Shirlaw.

You grew up in Santa Monica, Los Angeles around surfing/ skateboarding culture and were an avid listener of AM1580 KDAY, the radio station that brought prominence to the West Coast Hip Hop scene. Yet your introduction to photography was shooting fashion in Paris and Spain. It wasn’t until your return to LA in 1988 that you started to work with hip hop artists, seemingly completing a cycle that began during your teenage years. Now with the steady decline of the music business, the cycle of life has you back working on fashion and advertising. How much of this journey has been intentional, or incidental?

I think so much of it was by chance. I was lucky meeting certain people and being in the right place at the right time. I have always been a people person so I was always out meeting people and really open to new things. Optimism can take you a long way in life.

During those earlier days of your career in Europe, you were experimenting with your own version of cross-processing films – these techniques helping to create the aesthetic of your early music photographs. How has the advent of digital photography transformed your current work?

It hasn’t and I’m not a fan but it’s very useful for checking the lighting etc. So now it’s used for the clients to look at the computer screen. It’s great for that and shooting locations. It has its place.

What are your thoughts on today’s photography environment? A camera is in the pocket of just about every kid in America.

I was kind of bummed about that… My 16 year old – at the age of 14 – her friends were taking photos better than you would see in the magazines and a couple of them used my same camera…

But now I’m enjoying my iPhone and all its apps, just like a teenager.

Read the rest of the interview at: artillerymagazine.com.au

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Never-Before-Seen Photos of Tupac and Eazy-E From New Book West Coast Hip Hop: A History In Photos | LA Weekly

February 02 2012 . 10:15pm

Michael Miller and Paul Stewart had capped a successful Kickstarter project and planned a digital imprint of their book, a collection of photographs from the golden era of West Coast hip hop, called West Coast Hip Hop: A History In Photos. But the coffee table book garnered enough interest for a hard cover edition and fine art print show, opening this Saturday at Known Gallery.

“I started shooting in 1988, in Paris,” says Miller. “I was actually painting houses and I just happened to meet Peter Lindbergh, the world-renowned fashion photographer. He gave me my first professional camera. I helped him out on a few shoots.” Miller had his first big job with Cacharel, a huge French fashion brand. He shot Linda Evangelista, Karen Mulder, and Elaine Erwin, some of the era’s biggest supermodels.

But getting access to supermodels would prove simple compared to the likes of Tupac Shakur, Cypress Hill and Ice Cube.

However, Miller, being an L.A. native and passionate hip hop fan paired with Stewart, then a street promoter who later would head Def Jam’s west coast branch. The two connected the dots and forged a mutually beneficial working relationship. “The artists had to know you,” Miller explains. “I met DJ Muggs when he just got off the DMC World DJ Championship, the largest in the world. His roommate was DJ Aladdin. This was all before he started Cypress Hill.”

Miller scanned over 3000 images for the book, with only 70 making the cut. Admittedly he included a few photos that were less technically clean than close to his heart. West Coast Hip Hop: A History in Photos includes exclusive stories and images. Many times, he eschewed traditional studio settings for L.A. landscapes; perfect lighting for amazing, pre-Photoshop double exposures. Miller caught The Alkoholiks in a liquor store cooler on Sunset (the cover of 1993’s 21 + Over), Dre and Snoop on the boards for The Chronic, and — wait for it — Eazy-E with a skateboard.

“That image is close to me, because I grew up skateboarding,” explains Miller. “It happens to be a Natas Kaupas deck. Natas gave me that board. I was waiting for Eazy, just skating around and he showed up and he hopped on it for a second. He didn’t actually skate, but it was cool.”

Read the rest of the article by Shelley Leopold at: laweekly.com

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New HENSE print available

February 02 2012 . 09:50pm

CMY Print
3-color screen print on Rives BFK
100% cotton paper
Edition of 50
Signed and numbered
Paper size 15×22 inches
Image size 10×15 inches

Available HERE

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Michael Miller sneak preview photos

February 01 2012 . 09:51pm

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Here’s a couple sneak preview photos from Michael Miller – West Coast Hip Hop | A History in Pictures show and book release at Known Gallery this Saturday, February 4, 2012.

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