"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.back to projects
Dates: 2009 to 2014
Photographer: Tom Oldham
Curator: Ed Bartlett (The Future Tense)
Featured Artists: Arctic Monkeys, Basement Jaxx, Beady Eye, Beth Ditto, Chase & Status, CSS, Duran Duran, Editors, Ed Sheeran, Elbow, Faithless, Flying Lotus, Friendly Fires, Grimes, Janelle Monae, Jessie J, The Kills, Labrinth, Lana del Rey, Lykke Li, MIA, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Mystery Jets, Paul Weller, Plan B, Primal Scream, Prodigy, Pulled Apart by Horses, Rizzle Kicks, Rudimental, Snoop Dogg, Suede, Swedish House Mafia, Take That, Tinie Tempah, The Vaccines, Warpaint.
Partners: War Child, Pledge Music