Interviewed by Glo(w)/Written by Glo(w)
All things in life are cyclical. There is not one experience that does not serve a purpose. Sometimes, the significance of an event can be easily forgotten. And life will present that same instance to you again and again until its importance is understood. Be it an outright repeat of events or a chillingly similar encounter, each person has felt the future looming and the past prancing around.
It happens to all of us. We sit and we can feel the floating familiarity. Chill hits spine and that mystical part of our core remembers: déjà vu. Something about the current experience holds semblance to things unseen and time that hasn’t passed. It’s the thinning of the veil, the link between the layers of life, the definition of manifestation. This remembering, this call back to our inner selves, is evidence that time does not exist.
If you aren’t convinced in the lack of linear time, in the connection between all experiences, the work of Roach God can certainly serve as proof of both. With a technical skill that embodies the fine details of any moment, his photos makes one think they themselves were behind the lenses. His subject matter varies, from gumballs that have freshly fallen from trees to Gucci Mane. With an eye for detail coupled with visual versatility, Roach God’s work not only holds the past captive, but visually gives a glimpse at the beauty all of our futures have the potential to hold.
Get to know the man behind the lenses below.
For the record, what mediums of art do you partake in?
I help out where I can with anything, from event planning, logistics, helping people build on ideas. I always find myself around everyone in intimate settings. You might think that certain artists only do one thing, but I get to see everything they do and can sometimes put in input. The more you see and experience, the more you know. I learn from being around the most random things. You really know who you interact with and what they know. Photography makes the world kind of smaller for you. It’s tight. It lowkey let you know that anything is possible. Stuff you think is far away you end of up being around. And that goes for all different types of lanes.
Do you want to be classified as a photographer for only a genre?
Just call me a photographer. There are some artists who categorize themselves because of their specialty. There’s nothing wrong with that. But with me, I like to keep my horizons open, I like to do everything. I see everything. I’m a visual person.
How long have you been creating?
I’m 22. I started when I was 15. I used to shoot for free and be around people and those people used to allow me to work with them. But now I’m in a position to be able to allow people to work with me and have people booking me without me having to shoot for free. This taught me to respect others more, on me, after working and seeing what it takes to obtain your goals. I see it’s not something that just happens or that you can buy your way into. I feel like people are only just now starting to respect the hustle. Even though I’ve been doing this for almost ten years, it still feel like I’m just getting started.
What inspired you to use your creativity?
Cameras always been around me growing up. My daddy used to have a lot of disposable cameras and used to always take pictures of everything but I didn't’ trip off of it.
Around, like, 8th or 9th grade, I got hip to Nas album “Illmatic” and I was obsessed with the classic 90s stuff. Nas was so descriptive with his lyrics, I started to see everything as a movie. Everything they describe I can see it visually in my head and I started to think, “Why it ain’t no video to this?” Finally got a camera at, like, 15. I originally was going into video, but I ended up being cold at the pictures. I listen to music 24/7 all day, and I see stuff visually. I listen to it all. I’ll go from Nas to Chief Keef. I don’t discriminate. And when they talk, I see everything they are saying in my head. The camera is supposed to bring that out. And to this day, the music is what helps me be creative, especially when I’m editing. I’m a visual person.
What have you learned about yourself through your photography?
I used to think I wasn’t a people person, but I am. Everything is about the people. You connect with so many people. I can post pictures and it will spark people to look at it or do something. The camera links people with common interests. The camera brought a lot to me and brought me closer to people and still brings me to people. I knew of people but I didn’t know them. I was that weirdo walking around with my camera. It wasn’t really an art scene yet. Since I didn’t know nobody, my thing was nature. When I would get home from school, I’d be in my front yard taking pictures of flowers and bugs cause my daddy used to plant flowers and all of that. That’s how I taught myself how to work the camera. Nature shots are harder technically. Natural colors. I learned how to work the camera and settings. I didn’t know the terms or none of that. I used to just literally play with the camera with bugs and plants. This was when Facebook was cracking. I used to post all pictures of nature and people were messing with it. That’s how I got cool with people from different realms. Shout out to Adrian from Made Monarchs. I used to intern for Made Monarchs. Now the art scene makes more sense and it’s because that experience helped me be more diverse, all type of stuff.
Name something you don’t love, and why.
I don't love negativity, bruh. Or people pitting people against each other. Nothing good come from it. If it ain’t good, I don't have nothing to say. Saying something bad about someone else don’t make nothing good happen for me.
What do you think about how the media uses black aesthetics as a selling point versus people who actually live the black experience?
That’s dead. That’s dumb. I hate that because those people wouldn’t dare speak to us. I don’t want to say hood culture because that’s like a black thing. Its black people in wealthy neighborhoods that be on the same thing. Some of the stuff is not necessarily hood, its just black people. But its like mainstream media tries to take black people’s mannerisms and everything and sell it to us. Its part-time wanna do it when its convenient and fun. It’s always been that way. And that’s never gonna change. Just hit me up, float me that bag, and hire other black people, too. And let it be known we are there and don’t try to hide us.
What is the most important lesson or factor you want people to get from your art?
Just be yourself. Just be you. If you look at my work, how my Instagram is, it’s the same thing since I started. Its 7000 pictures and you can go back to the first 100 it's the same thing. I made being me cool. I’m inspired by other people, but I can only be me. I’m never gonna look at someone else work and try to mimic them. That's why it looks effortless. It’s people colder than me, but I’m doing me what I like, and making what I like liked. Just be you, keep being you, and being the best you you can be. And keep your head up.
Follow Roach God on Instagram @roach_god and on Twitter @s_roach.