Friday, December 3, 2010

Shadowscene Interview

So I pretty much spent ages 17-25 partying. A lot. Really hard. And I think I'm pretty much completely over it. But that doesn't mean that I don't still lurk all the party pictures that flood my news feed everyday. These days everyone is a "party photographer" (except for Adam Wallacavage). But that doesn't mean they are good at it. Ellei Johndro, the girl behind Shadowscene, is like really good at it. She somehow manages to capture the true essence of FUN while making sure her subjects (mostly sloppy drunks) actually look good in their photos, which is not easy.

Not only does she fly from coast to coast snapping pics of cool kids all over the country, but she just started her own band, Biker Daughter (best band name I've heard in a while). I was genuinely interested in asking this girl some serious questions about herself, so here they are!

ME: How do you pronounce your entire name?
EJ: My entire name is pronounced like the letters L-E and then pretty much as it's spelled JOHN-DRO. Or as I've gotten for most of the year Alejandro, Alej-Alejandro. Thanks, Gaga.

ME: Where did you come from and what brought you to Philly?
EJ: I'm originally from Boston but after living in Los Angeles for a few years I became bi-coastal for Shadowscene. And quite honestly, I chose to live in Philly over every other city because it's where I always had the most fun! The scene in LA was changing and since I'd been on the road touring for a year or so I was fortunate enough to know where I would prefer to be and what was of most interest to me. I mean seriously, who wouldn't pick the Delaware over the Pacific Ocean? Pffft!

 ME: Describe living in a house full of male djs.
EJ: I live in a house with six dudes. Four of them being DJs, one an artist and another a karaoke guru. We also have 2 dogs, 2 cats and a hamster. This is nearly un-describable. Especially since we all share one bathroom for the most part. And someone always eats my cookies.

ME: When did Shadowscene start, and how?
EJ: Shadowscene started back in 2002 as a hosting site for my street photography. But by 2005, I redesigned it to accommodate my daily photo documentation of events and adventures. I began photographing a lot of underground and secret after parties in LA along with Check Yo' with Franki Chan which ran for nearly 3 years. Now, Shadowscene continues to be a showcase of my daily mishaps and the people I see as well as an expose of what goes on behind the scenes and all over the country. It's also grown to include video, a clothing line, comics, music features and my travel blog.

ME: How do the scenes in LA and Philly compare to one another?
EJ: In my opinion, LA and Philly are complete opposites. LA is for one, very competitive when it comes to parties and Philly has more of a supportive 'let's all have fun" vibe. You'll hardly see anyone dance in LA and in Philly I'm pretty sure everybody is moving in some capacity. There's definitely a hip, culturally trendsetting crowd and scene in Philly and in LA although there are definitely some people leading the masses there, it's more about a crafted, molded let's be seen scene. However, in LA you'll definitely get more of a contrast when it comes to the crowd. In one night alone I would go from shooting at a private Hollywood Hills party followed by some magazine something and then at a dark warehouse until 6am. The people that bump elbows there are uncanny. They also have palm trees.

ME: How often do you go from coast to coast?
EJ: I used to fly back and forth between Los Angeles and Philly every two weeks. But by midsummer I made a decision to spend a lengthier amount of time on one coast, hence my crazy summer in Philadelphia! Now I fly back to Los Angeles about once every 6 weeks or more depending on shoots and studio sessions.

ME: So what's up with this new band, Biker Daughter? I love the name, where did that stem from?
EJ: Biker Daughter is my new musical side project which just started about six months ago. I can start with yes, my Dad is a biker, hence the name but it sort of started out of a long conversation/joke with a friend of mine before I even had a song recorded. Something about feathers. Something about sticking to your roots and something about if I didn't damn well name my band Biker Daughter, I'd be an idiot.

ME: Any big plans/tours/shows coming up?
EJ: I just wrapped a 3 week long Biker Daughter tour with Kenan Bell and Hank & Cupcakes and am planning on a second EP release in January. There'll also be a spring tour and SXSW next March and I believe a remix EP before the end of the year. Vrooom, vrooom!

ME: Any style icons? Photo icons?
EJ: Hands down my favorite photographers are Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Lewis Hine, Robert Frank and Glen Friedman. I admire photographers that take risks and expose the realities in life as well as document things naturally. If you haven't gotten punched, elbowed, drenched or yelled at, you're not doing it right. As for fashion icons, I'm not sure if I have one. I more or less wear what feels right...grunge, 60s, rocker, babydoll apathetic clothing is pretty much up my alley. Currently, I think everything I own is shredded. So I'm immersing myself in the ripped jeans, scuffed boot, lace, leather and oversized torn tee-shirt look. Suspenders rule.

ME: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
EJ: In 10 years from now, I'll be sipping whiskey while sitting on a shag carpet contemplating my next art show, writing song lyrics and probably throwing paint splatters on the walls just to photograph them while my hired robot does the jig for me because I programmed him to entertain me like Roni Size. Of course, all this while alternating between banging drums, strumming strings and eating a sandwich because a fine hoagie is a prime necessity in life.

ME: What's your secret?
EJ: My secret? Hmmm. Stay positive, laugh at yourself and enjoy each day no matter what. And talk to people. You'd be surprised how much you could learn even from that homeless lady sleeping on the park bench who doesn't speak your language.

ME: Do you have any advice for me? 
EJ: Seahorses rule. ♥


  1. this made me miss philly a whole lot.

  2. The scene in Philly is smaller, everyone knows each other or knows of each other. I do miss Philly sometimes, too, but I'm also glad to be out. I think it's different if you grew up there.

    Cool interview :)

  3. I love her band! Sounds good.... Thanks for this post, I love new music. :)