On a battered back street in Bushwick, Brooklyn lies Punk Alley—an ominous yet hip hangout for music geeks, bartenders and journalists. At the end of the narrow passageway lies a 9×7 magenta studio, known as KPISS.FM.
KPISS is an internet radio station that broadcasts over 70 live shows each week. Self-described on their website as “NPR on crack,” the programs bustle with zany commentary and good music, both underground and widely known.
For most of these DJs, internet radio is a hobby. Once a week, they leave their 9-5 jobs and head to the tiny, pink shack to devote themselves to the web. I’d like to profile a few of these DJs for my final project. I’ll tape their shows, take photos and interview the subjects on what makes KPISS so special, and why it’s slowly blowing up in Bushwick.
HOST INTRO: As the coffee industry has certainly exploded over the last few years, sustainability is something that consumers and industry professionals take very seriously. According to Business Insider, 90 percent of the world’s coffee production takes place in developing counties. These countries desperately need clean water and sanitation to cultivate the coffee. This year, the New York Coffee Festival launched Coffee Week NYC to raise money to support these coffee growing communities. Angie Martoccio has the story.
The third annual New York Coffee Fest will be running from October 13-15th. The festival features over 85 coffee and food vendors and hosts interactive events, from latte art competitions to coffee tastings. The official charity partner for NYCF, Project Waterfall, will host a “water challenge” to support clean water projects in the Rulindo district of Rwanda. I’d like to speak to vendors and participants about the growth of the speciality coffee industry, as well as visit Project Waterfall and inquire about sustainability practices in coffee farms.
Walking around Photoville on a warm Thursday afternoon, I found choosing a single exhibition to focus on quite difficult. Though each exhibition was unique, nothing really screamed out at me. That is, until I saw Barron Clairborne’s iconic portrait of Biggie Smalls in the corner of my eye and stopped dead in my tracks.
“Contact High: Hip-Hop’s Iconic Photographs and Visual Culture” showcases the evolution of hip-hop through the eyes of more than thirty photographers. Portraits and contact sheets that span across 40 years line the walls, featuring an array of hip-hop artists that range from Public Enemy to Nicki Minaj.
“The exhibit starts here in 1979,” associate curator Syreeta Gates tells me, pointing to a photo of Larry Levan DJing with a poster of a young Robin Williams behind him. “It ends in 2017,” Gates says, staring at a portrait of reggae artist Chronixx. The exhibition is a sneak peek, as it will be turned into a book in Fall 2018.
Viewing the photographs in order is crucial, as it feels like you’re literally walking through time. Sophie Bramly’s photograph of Futura 2000 and Keith Haring with their backs against each other encapsulates the 1980s in the same way that the contact sheets of Tupac and Aaliyah are the epitome of the 1990s. In the last 40 years, hip-hop has evolved from a subculture to a defining culture. This exhibition captures that incredible journey.
In a world as technologically advanced as ours, music is accessible with the mere click of a button. Streaming services such as Spotify and Tidal provide millions of songs at our fingertips. However, the vinyl industry is still afloat. In fact, it’s had a resurgence.
Though many record stores have closed its doors in recent years (such as Other Music and Rebel Rebel), vinyl records are projected to sell 40 million units in 2017. “Many of today’s consumers just want to own something that they can hold in their hands,” Jordan Passman wrote in a recent Forbes article.
For my photo essay, I want to visit the surviving record shops of New York City. I plan to photograph decisive moments that take place in each store, full of candor and authenticity. I will interview record store owners and consumers, asking them how they’ve manage to survive and why they choose to do so. I will ask them how they feel the industry has changed over the years, and, finally, what they think the future for the physical format holds.