Interview by Isaac McKay-Randozzi
Asking questions to people that you've never met face to face is an interesting thing. In this day you can contact just about anyone via email. After asking Rob Abeyta for the a little help, we contacted Mr. Oriol and asked him some questions about his photography, life, sox, Devo, Chia pets and going from bouncer to video director and to upcoming film director on the life of Mr. Cartoon.
Occupation: Photography/director/Joker Clothing owner
Tools of your trade: Canon AE 1 35 MM, Pentax 67.
Where did you grow up? Westside of Los Angeles
Why photography? Why not a mechanic or a stockbroker?
I just fell into it touring with Cypress Hill taking snap shots of touring on the road, then coming home taking flicks of lowriding cause I was in a car club.
Do you think growing up in that type of environment affected the way you shoot?
I just shot what I was used to seeing and knew how it should look.
What was the most valuable thing you learned from your parents?
Work hard and be grateful.
You were a club bouncer, tour manager for House of Pain, a DJ, and you and Everlast had a clothing company before you got into photography. Looking back on it, do you see it as a natural progression, a series of happenstance events that lead you into what you are doing now, or a combination?
Yeah it all was a steppingstone for where I am now. Doing the Not Guilty clothing with Everlast and my homie Lucky, got my feet wet to do Joker Clothing now and for the past 10 years. I needed to do it all to be where I am today.
I told B Real-Cypress Hill, to direct the first video for his side group called the Psycho Realm, because at that time Dre and Cube were co-directing their videos putting there name in the credits, so B told me, "I rap, you should direct it, your the camera dude." So him and the 2 guys in the group Jacken and Duke told the label they wanted me to do direct the first one. Then the second, then two for Muggs' side project Soul Assassins. 1 for Sen's side project SX10 and so and so on, to now doing the Transplants and Blink 182 videos and getting a 3 picture deal with Universal/Imagine. The 1st movie being about Cartoon based on true events called Ink. For videos I'm working with www.hsiproductions.com.
I try to travel a couple times a year because I don't tour anymore, after 13 years on the road the bands I was touring with don't really tour anymore. Whenever I can travel and work at the same time I'm down with that, it's kinda like a paid vacation.
Have you been able to take photos outside of the video shoot setting during your travels?
Yeah, whenever we do location scouting or time off, I bust out the AE 1 and go take flicks. The Pentax I usually leave at home its to big to carry everywhere and its a hassle. If I could I would shoot everything with the AE. People don't trip out as much when you have the AE 1, when they see that Pentax come out, it's like pulling your dick out, they say, "oh shit what is that?"
Do you go into the darkroom much?
I have a few times but its too much drama for me its an art form all in its self. I'd rather use that time to hustle more work. I have A.D.D. I can't be stuck in those little rooms for hours.
Do you shoot digital?
If I have to. To me it's not there yet.
What's your stance on the digital vs. film debate?
I'll take film any day, and maybe because I don't know enough about digital but oh well.
We met through a friend we had in common through lowriding who was also in the music business. His name was Donnie Charles (R.I.P.) aka D.C. At that time he was the manager of a group called W.C. and The Mad Circle, which featured W.C. From Westside Connection and Coolio. We met at the record release party for Penthouse Players in 1992, and kept in touch and now we're best friends, compadres and business partners in S.A. Studios and www.jokerbrand.com.
How long have you known him?
13 years and still going strong. What's important in our success is that we communicate we never argue or get our feelings hurt we just talk like men and get through it.
Who are the Soul Assassins? And what part does SA Studios play?
The Soul Assassins are a group of artists. We have people in movie and film, photography, fashion, music, commercial and fine art. S.A. Studios is the art department; we do video direction and production, design (CD layouts, clothing, etc.), graphics, photography, events and tattoos. Joker does the fashion, Scotty Caan and myself work in the film industry, Cypress, Alchemist, Chace and Rob Aston handle the music and we have homies like Lucky doing sales for famous SAS, Trevelen with Super Co. Customs building choppers, to name a few.
How long have you known Rob Abeyta and what aspect of SA Studios does he handle?
A few years, he does spiritual advising, design, graphics, art shows and right now working presently on designing the Ink book.
You've shot a lot of different hip-hop celebrities, who has been your favorite to shoot?
I like a lot of them 99% of them are cool as fuck, there are a few I've done a few shoots with so we have a better relationship.
How is INK book progressing?
I'm in the selecting the print stage and then it goes to the scanning and then designing. I've been printing about 200 prints got another 200 to go. The movie is in the hiring the writer stage. We got a good one there, it's up to the studios to greenlight it now.
With more personal projects, like "Ink" has the subject of creativity vs. marketability come up?
As far as the books goes we're doing it the way we want to that's how that deal was set up, with the movie since the studio is putting up a lot of money of course they want to make money but they don't want it to comprise the film and the authenticity.
That's good to hear. Authenticity is the one thing that seems to get sacrificed in most film projects. Do you think that because of your relationship with Mr. Cartoon you will have a friendly perspective on him? Are you going to show all aspects of the man, good and bad?
Oh yeah for sure you will see all sides of him, This isn't going to be PG version or Disney Cartoon. This is about Mr. Cartoon from the sickside. We both know that people want to see it all. They don't want the candy coated shit, unless it's a paint job for their ride.
Do you drink? If so, what's you favorite beer?
I don't drink anymore but when I did I would drink whatever scotch. Beer to crystal in the club, I didn't care about the brand name or the taste I just wanted to get fuckin' smashed. Its not a party till the handcuffs go on.
If your house was on fire and all of your family was safely out, what one thing would you save from the flames?
My photos and negs, everything else is replaceable with insurance or buy the shit again. I can't go all over the world or back in time and take these photos again.
As you get older, do you think your photography subjects will change? In 20 years are we going to see a book of landscapes by you?
A lil here and there, I'm pretty much sticking with the hardcore shit and fine broads, if I get old enough to do landscapes I hope I retire at that point. I think Ansel Adams did it perfect, I cant see anybody doing it different so it would be better.
Where is Mr. Estevan Oriol in 20 years?
I'll be Araki's age probably as sick in the head as him.
What are you working on right now?
A gang of shit, a few videos, a documentary, photo shoots, and Joker, then my 4 kids my life outside of all this work.
Ride my Harley or take my 47 Fleetline for a drive.
Striped or plain sox?
Plain white, and not those broad ones that everyone is wearing with the little balls cut off.
What's the best part about living where you live?
It's like "Leave it to Beaver" neighborhood. I never hear gunshots at night.
The drive to work in the fucking traffic.
How much of the criminal element do you deal with? Or have you dealt with when you were a bouncer?
On a daily basis just not as much as I use to when I was younger. I live in L.A.
Do you think Devo is over-rated?
No they get their respect from me they worked hard and did their thing.
What's your favorite Devo song?
Are we not men, we are Devo.
Had you ever heard of Fecal Face Dot Com before this interview?
No, but that doesn't mean anything.
Do you consider yourself an artist, or someone who makes their living doing artistic things? Do you see a separation between the two?
Both, to me it's the same you can be an artist and make money doing your artistic things.
I saw a photo of you at the SA Studios show at Fifty24SF and my first reaction was, "Shit, wouldn't want to piss that cat off!" Do others have this reaction and if so do you find it a hindrance or a benefit in your work?
Yeah it fucks me a little but I don't mean no harm, I'm just trying to work and do my thing.
What music have you been listening to lately?
The Mars Volta, At The Drive-In, young Jeezy, Paul Wall, Led Zepplin.
Do Chia pets make good gifts?
To who? Who the fuck wants those?
If you had five minutes with President Bush, what would you say or do?
I'd say, "Are you for real homes?"
Any thank yous of fuck yous?
Thank you to everyone who supported me, and all of our stuff we couldn't have done it with out your support. Thank you to all the haters you only make us stronger.
Fuck you bootleggers, shame on you.
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