Sunday, April 6, 2014

INTERVIEW : ALEX KAZEMI

I was fortunate enough to interview Alex Kazemi for my Informative Interview class. He's 19 and has interviewed the likes of Lana del Rey and ASAP Rocky along with writing a novel "Yours Truly, Brad Sela" that was picked up by MTV. Enjoy!






How did you start your writing career?


The first time I was published was in PRIM MAGAZINE. A Fashion magazine, I was the managing editor  alongside Kristin Prim.  My first interviews were with La Roux and Jeremy Scott. I basically contacted Kristin on Twitter when I was 15, and we exchanged Ichat user names and started to work on the fall/winter issue. I went into it with 0 experience but I just followed my gut instinct and took the risk of trying to work with her and it ended up happening.  After Prim, I worked at several other publications and used the skills I learned working with Kristin for the rest of my writing career at other magazines.



What are some ups and downs of being a writer?


I don’t like how I can’t really control my creative process. It’s very intangible, I can’t really put it in a jar or contain it.. It usually just vomits out of me. When I worked at magazines, if I saw in my head that I needed to interview Lana Del Rey. I would do everything in my power and not give up until I got an interview with Lana Del Rey. It’s a weird obsessive-compulsive process.  I get really ambitiously psycho and crazy. I think sometimes I would just like to be on the outside looking in, instead of writing all the time. I feel like people don't get a choice if they want to become a writer or not.  I definitely didn’t. 



How did you get in contact with MTV and other important people you've met?


When I had finished my book manuscript, I was not going to give up until the book was published. I sent it probably over to 2 thousand agents and publishers, just submitting my manuscript like any other author does and I got rejection after rejection. Some people even complimented my writing and said that I was a good writer yet they told me I was a risk and wasn't commercial enough for their agency.  MTV was the most receptive and they believed in my vision and I think for any artist or writer or designer in the fashion or music industry, there is always someone out there who will be able to put you on. You just have to find them.



Who's your most memorable interview?


Taylor Momsen or Lana. I think because Taylor was at a weird time in her life when people were just bothering her and comparing her to Courtney Love and not taking her transition from Gossip girl to music seriously. I respected her as an artist and she was kind of shocked that we actually talked about music.  I definitely liked talking to Lana too because she was really fun and we talked about horoscopes and movies, her life experiences and stuff.  It was right before her album came out and she was in London.  I also hustled really hard to get that interview. 



What's it like writing for Urban Outfitters blog?



It’s really fun because I love Urban Outfitters. I think people have such a strange perception over the company, they think it’s some obnoxious hipster barn but it really is a portal for people to culture themselves and try to learn about new creative things. I think lots of people, who used to shop at Hollister, go to Urban and sort of come into their own and figure out their style.  That’s awesome, in my opinion. 


What advice would you give to someone starting out?


You can’t care about yourself and be so afraid or self-conscious about your decisions in the cutthroat industry you are going to step in. You have to risk losing it all, to gain it all and I think in Fashion. It’s really about hard work and proving yourself to the contacts that will help you further your career to where you want it to be, it’s really about having ambition and not giving up on what you want. If you are going to work in Fashion. You have to understand that people are going to want you to know what the Antwerp Six is; you have to know your references and have knowledge. I don’t think anyone wants to hire someone who knows nothing because most people who work in fashion do it because they love the art of it but knowing nothing is also not a bad thing because by knowing nothing, you should realize you have all the time to learn.  I once had no idea who Rick Owens was. 


What inspired you to write a book?


I don’t really know. The book sort of wrote itself? I felt possessed!  I’m still in complete denial that I wrote a book; I keep asking people “Is it an actual book?”  Because to me it is just images and words beside each other… I think it was born via a certain rage in me over past experiences and also it is a way for me to escape and explore themes and emotions via fiction. 


What do you do in your spare time?



I don’t really do anything. I like to go for walks sometimes but I usually just work and write in my bedroom.   I like to go to movies with a friend, if they are up for it and I like to read non-fiction books or watch documentaries. I love art books.


What movies, books etc. do you get inspiration from?


It’s very hard to create something new in this day and age, especially in the Internet era where everything is archived and fragmented and for that reason:  when writing my book, I tried to not expose myself to any fictional movies or books from the past because I wanted to try to say something new for the first time.  I didn't even watch Heathers until I was finished because I wanted to completely be unexposed..  I don’t have a direct influence.    When you are creating something, it has to come from a pure part of you.  You have to close your eyes and just imagine. 



What's your opinion on social medias impact on todays society?


I wish people were more moderate about it. I think Social Media is an awesome tool to televise art, in a way that is sort of punk and unfiltered.  Sort of like how BeyoncĂ© just dropped that album with zero label promo, and made it #1 with her own Instagram followers.  I think that society is sort of swelled up because of it, people are becoming even more narcissistic because they are so preoccupied with selfies and how cool they want to appear to people and to create art, you need to kind of step out of yourself and look at the world and people around you.   I think it also makes people conservative and cautious in a way because you are always controlling your aesthetic to be perfect and that is unnatural.



Where do you see yourself in 5 years?


Hopefully writing the script for turning my book into a television show and meeting new people to write about, new experiences.  I feel like after this book, I want to take a long break from writing but honestly I don’t think I’ll ever stop.




 I know your book is set in the '90s, what is it about the '90s that you like so much? What was your favorite photo shoot from that time?


My main appeal to the 90s is that it was nihilistic and unapologetic.  Artists were really aching to innovate and create something futuristic as the new millennium approached and I love the music and imagery from that era.  I feel like there was a lot of rebellion against the system in pop and film, people wanted to take risks. I think everyone is very safe now.  These risks were once considered daring but now in the Internet era, it is hard to show people something that hasn't been done.


  The most iconic photo shoot from that time for me is Kate Moss and Nick Knight’s surveillance shoot in Vogue 95.  I think it’s interesting because Kate was this fixture of perfection, so glossy and perfect yet we got to see her as a raw girl on the run in the world and I love the lo-fi attitude.   It just stuck with me.  It’s chilling.