“Specialization is For Insects”

Selling 20 million albums worldwide doesn’t mean you’ve found your creative niche.

I started shooting photography around the age of 10, when my uncle, Joseph Kugielsky, a photographer for the New York Times, gave me my first camera—a Nikon F. I spent a lot of time in the darkroom while in college, but by then music had taken over my life, and I’ve been very lucky to have had longtime success with it.

During a long album tour around four years ago, I started shooting again, following my uncle’s guiding ethos to document the things you see that others don’t. For me, on tour, living the weird juxtaposition of being in front of a huge crowd one moment and then isolated in an airport terminal or anonymous hotel room at 4 a.m. the next—those are unusual experiences that I really enjoyed capturing with my camera. When I work on music I tend to work on it by myself, but in order to create visual work I had to involve friends, and I really liked this communal aspect. When I take photos I’m also forced to interact with the physical and material world in a way I don’t ever have to do in music. With music you’re just pushing air molecules around.

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