Bands On Film is the photography project of fanatic gig-goer Nina Rädel. Having witnessed more bands grace the capital’s endangered stages than most people have had hot dinners, Nina has established herself as the definitive documentarian of London’s thriving live music scene. From MOTH Clubs glittering stage to the Brixton Windmill’s grotty smoking garden, Nina has steadily honed her craft, capturing moments of rage-fuelled catharsis and wild ecstasy in gritty detail. Browsing through her body of work, you can almost smell the sweat; sense the beer cans crushed underfoot and feel that beautiful tingle of post-gig euphoria. Nina talks to Hard Of Hearing about how she first got involved with the scene, her favourite shows and her debut zine.
5 minutes with… BANDS ON FILM
Tell us about how your Bands On Film project started.
“In Summer 2015 I spent two days on tour with Death From Above and took a disposable camera along. I picked up on that idea again when I did a tour diary for Tigercub‘s Germany tour with Counterfeit and Dilly Dally. The photos were pretty bad, but I liked the vibe. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make it my hobby when I moved to London.”
What camera and film do you use?
“For gigs I use two Pentax Espio cameras and a Minolta Dynax 404si with usually Kodak Gold 200 film. My polaroids are shot with a Fujifilm Instax 200.”
What first motivated you to document the London underground music scene?
“When I moved to London in Summer 2016 I got to live my dream: seeing bands nearly every night and discovering loads of new music. I was too busy to continue doing music journalism, but I didn’t want to stop supporting new bands. That’s why I started Bands on Film – an art project to show people what is happening on the small stages in London. My goal is to capture what a band is about and to encourage people to listen to them. In my opinion, raw and imperfect photos are representing the scene better than fancy ones, that’s why I use as little photoshop as possible. I have photographed over 300 different bands now and I’m still amazed how diverse London’s music scene is.”
You must have witnessed hundreds of bands now, are there any shows that stand out as particularly memorable?
“A memorable experience was Turbowolf playing a small club in LA called Dirty Laundry. It was the first gig they put on. The night was busy with a typical “clubbing crowd” dancing to house music until Turbowolf came on at 1am. It was completely surreal. People from the venue tried to keep Turbowolf‘s fans from moshing and even tried to shut the band down. They weren’t successful though, and in the end there even were girls with high heels in the pit. Everyone was having a great time.
Two of the shows that stood out for me last year were Idles and Bo Ningen at The Old Blue Last and YAK and Crows at Birthdays. Seeing these incredible live bands in small venues was an (very sweaty) experience. In 2015 I got to see Drive Like Jehu and Preoccupations play a stage in front of the San Francisco skyline. Seeing PJ Harvey, Patti Smith and Babes in Toyland for the first time were magical moments too.”
Is there any single photo that you are particularly proud of?
“If I had to choose one I’d say the one of Pulled Apart by Horses at Scala. It was the first show I got a photo pass for. The photo lab messed up the scan a bit but it really captures the gig for me. There’s also great photos of Saint Agnes, Nova Twins, King Woman and Weirds, who are all very enjoyable to capture on film.”
Tell us about your new zine.
“The Bands on Film zine is a collection of my favourite photos from every month since I started. Best of Bands on Film. There are only four left, so hurry if you want one.”
You can buy the Bands On Film zine here.
Check out Nina’s work here:
By George Percival