"A genre-defying 5-year project capturing unique portraits of the most exciting live musicians seconds before and after performing."

Shot by renowned portrait photographer Tom Oldham over the course of 5 years and curated by The Future Tense, ON/OFF is a unique insight into the backstage rituals of some of the leading live musicians, DJ’s and producers.

The Future Tense worked closely with key figures from the music industry – from band managers and label owners to venues and promoters – to secure unprecedented access to almost 100 artists, including Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Paul Weller, Snoop Dogg, MIA, Paul Weller, Prodigy and Suede. The images for ON/OFF were taken in extremely challenging backstage conditions and at a moment in time rarely captured – the seconds immediately before and after performing.

Unlike typical portrait shoots, no direction was given and no makeup or retouch allowed. ON/OFF captures the unique tension and release of live performance at the highest levels. Venues ranging from the main stage headline slots at Bestival and Lovebox festivals and the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena through to Brixton Academy and Manchester’s Warehouse Project made for unique challenges for each shoot.

Working with award-winning children’s charity War Child – itself known for extremely innovative work with the music industry – and online platform PledgeMusic, ON/OFF culminated in a collectible limited edition hardback book and signed print series. The project raised significant money and awareness for War Child.

Coverage of the project included multi-page spreads in national print press such as the Independent on Sunday. Sustained broadcast coverage was given on music channels such as BBC Radio 6 Music, as well as via online outlets including BBC, Huffington Post, The Guardian and NME. Links can be found in the sidebar opposite.

As part of the project, each artist was asked a series of questions about the live music experience, which can be found here.

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