Photographer Neil Krug hadn't heard of Flickr when a friend first suggested he post his photos there.
This was back in 2008, way before the days of Instagram and its filters. Neil's photos looked like they came out of a 1970's family album. There was something striking and original about his purposefully grainy and fuzzy aesthetic.
So striking and original, that when Reuben Wu of the electronic band Ladytron saw the photos, he reached out to Neil and asked him to direct the band's next video.
"I was nobody," Neil said. "And before I knew it I was in Montserrat with this band, directing their video."
The gigs kept coming. Suddenly Neil found himself working with groups like Justice, Devendra Banhart and Bat for Lashes, just to name a few.
In 2011, Neil and model Joni Harbeck, published Pulp Art Book, a collection of sun-drenched photos of Joni playing the part of a gangster, an Indian chief, a housewife. She huddles in a car splattered with what appears to be blood and points a gun at the camera while the sun sets behind her. Neil's effects give the photos a psychedelic, dreamlike feel.
Curious to learn more about his work, Global Yodel caught up with Neil as he was putting the finishing touches on an album cover in his studio.
Global Yodel: I read photography wasn't your first choice as a profession. How did you get started, and how did you find your voice?
Neil Krug: That's sorta true. I was always interested but I didn't become a photographer until I started working on my film. I had no cash to hire a real photographer, so I was like, "well, I'll do it myself." I didn't know what I was doing...partly due to being self-taught I suppose.
GY: Your film? Go on.
NK: I started it in 2008 and I'm still working on it. It's my great American novel. The rest is under wraps for the moment.
GY: Fine, keep it a secret. Will you tell us about the bands you work with; any good gossip there?
NK: I say this with a lot of love, but one thing I've noticed is all the British bands I work with have a similar style. They are generally the hardest to please in some ways. I always assume they're thinking, "Can the American get it right?" And when it works out I feel the proudest. Again, I say that with a lot of love.
GY: Which band or artist are you dying to shoot next?
NK: I've always wanted to do something with MIA but she's difficult to get a hold of.
GY: What are you listening to right now?
NK: Dunwich Radio. He's a tastemaker from Sweden. He does these podcasts of old school soundtracks and electronic music. I can't get enough to it. If I'm not listening to NPR, I'm listening to him.
GY: Tell me about working with Joni on the Pulp Art Book.
NK: It was a complete collaboration. She would have half an idea and I would finish it, and vice versa. I was always really present behind the camera as was she in her role-playing. That being said, we called it quits as a duo.
NK: (laughs) We're still friends and there's a bunch of work that was never released that might see the light of day at some point. Who knows...I'll always be proud of the work.
GY: Do you think you've "made it" as an artist?
NK: Not at all, and I don't think having that attitude is necessarily a good thing. I have the freelancer disposition ingrained in me I suppose. You're up. You're down. Repeat. You put as much energy into things as you can, and hope for the best.
- Helen Anne Travis
Head over to Global Yodel to see more of beautiful Neil's photos.