Q & A by Patrick Engelberg

Michael Angeles is a jack of all cards (sic). He does a lot of stuff, and doing a lot of stuff draws attention from local media. Given this assignment from a local newspaper, Varingen, I had the “honor” of picking his brain about the hows and whys on a bench somewhere in the middle of Oslo. The printed version, Varingen 24.02.12, was cut short for space and contained some minor, annoying errors. Translated by me and Google into the Queen’s English, what you see before you is the raw, unedited (with liberties) material as transcribed from the pretentious, quasi-intellectual chatter heard from the audiotapes we left behind. For the Queen!

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- You’re part of what must be at least a thousand different sub-cultures. Where do you find a balance?
- It all sort of comes together. Especially the hip-hop, music videos and fashion. It’s all part of the same package. The physical therapist-thing is different. A lot of people think it’s weird when I tell them about it.

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- And sleep?
- I never sleep (laughs). What’s great is, I only do stuff I enjoy. Which, in turn, never makes it a hassle. I get to work with people I idolize, see places I want to see. If I’m not feeling something, then I simply won’t take the job. This is my life, and I intend to enjoy it.

- You’re a movie director now. How did that happen?
- Some time ago, I bought a camera with video-capabilities, and made a few, short videos showing of outfits. Then I wanted to make a music video, so I made one for Phil T. Rich, a rapper from Oslo. People seemed psyched about it, and it gave me the motivation to keep doing it. From there on, the work pretty much piled up and people kept trying to get in touch with me.

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- Do you get paid?
- I’ve taken some payment for the videos, but more often than not I do it for free. As favours. This is stuff I know will benefit me in the future. A good example is the video I made for LidoLido, another Norwegian rapper, and the most popular one ‘till now -- Ray Kay shared it on his personal Facebook-page, saying it was a well executed, cool idea. Cooler than that, Bun B, of UGK-fame, retweetet it. But he probably watched it due to him being a fan of Lido. It’s still cool, though. All in all, it’s something I do for fun. I’m not a director. At least I don’t call myself that.

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- But you’ve made quite a lot of videos?
- I actually received a phone call from someone involved with Lydverket, a show broadcasted on the radio channel P3 in Norway. They were asking Norwegian video-directors which 2011-video was their favourite. All I could say was “Sorry, but I’m just a physical therapist, fashion designer and blogger who owns a camera.” However, I did state my opinion.

- Couldn’t you spend the money upgrading your equipment?
- I might upgrade someday, when I can afford it. With the equipment I have, I make them the way I want them. Sometimes, the technique I use makes it look like I’m better equipped than I actually am. That’s why I’m “fond” of the one-take-videos. And I don’t have the knowledge to make anything else (laughs). But it’s cool, and different. It’s not something “everybody” does, at least in Norway.

- But how do you make a living?
- I work at Sole Service, and make some money taking pictures. It’s not a lot, but it’s a living. I take press photographs and pictures at events, for musicians and the likes. Like Lars Vaular or Karpe Diem. They usually come to me. So I pretty much run around concerts taking pictures. It’s just a lot of stuff happening at once. There was a period of time, in December, where I visited a different country every single weekend. This was all because of the photography.

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- What are you running from or hiding?
- I’m not afraid of anything (laughs).

- Really?
- No, but I probably have the best life ever. I pretty much do what I want, with a lot of people around me supporting me no matter what. A girlfriend with an understanding for why I run from place to place, do the things I do. Good friends, a sister whom takes care of the formal stuff, like economics. My parents were probably even more supportive after I got my education.

- Education?
- I finished my education as a physical therapist two years ago, got my licence the year after. It’s not something I’ve walked away from, but right now I feel like the blog, clothing, photography and videos are what’s right for me. And I’m still young. The physical therapist-thing is something to fall back on. Wouldn’t have bothered putting four years of my life into it if I wasn’t.

- Tell me about your clothing line?
- It’s not just me. I’m part of this collective, Baws, and most of the those guys are into hip-hop and music. Fashion and clothing’s always been my little base of operations within the collective, and we got the opportunity to design a line of three t-shirts for the clothing brand Johnny Leave Home. The shirts will be sold in “Urban”-stores all over Norway, and are designed by me and Michael Waag, based on an idea by me and some of the other guys in the collective. All of this happened in mere months.

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- Would it be possible to lead the kind of life you do, if you’d have stayed in your hometown?
- Sure. I’d just sleep, eat and work in Nittedal, then take the bus early in the day into the city. The trip’s about 45 minutes back and forth. It’s sort of like when I was living five days a week in Elverum, two in Oslo. It’s actually pretty great not having the opportunity to be a part of everything. There’s always three or four things happening at the same time in Oslo, and If you want to be a part of it, you’ll just have to go for it.

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- Now, the blog. Is it just for attention?
- I’ve always taken a lot of space, shared a lot of myself. But the reason behind the blog was actually... First of all, because I like taking pictures. And it was a great way to keep family living abroad posted. Three years later, I’m carrying my camera everywhere. I don’t know why it got to be like this, it wasn't a conscious decision. But I do share a lot of myself. Take a look at the blog, and you’ll pretty much know what I’m up to at any given time. It’s not something I encourage everybody to do, it’s just something I like. Something cool. And it’s not like I share everything, but I really don’t care what people think or say.

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- That’s interesting. Given all you share - easily misjudged as attention-whoring - coupled with the seemingly never-ending confidence, there must be some hate?
- There’s some. Haters are a great motivation. The sheer thought of people actually wasting their time telling you that you suck is funny. Success is the greatest motivation. That being said, there really hasn't been a lot of them. I’ve grown up believing that if someone hates what you do, you’re doing something right. You’ve made them think. On the other hand, there’s constructive criticism, but non-constructive I usually just ignore.

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- And the confidence?
- Does it really seem that way? It’s easier not being afraid when you’ve got so many friends backing you up. After the Ut√łya tragedy this summer, I made supportive t-shirts, sold them and donated everything to the Red Cross. I actually had to film myself handing over the money for people to believe it. Some said I was going to take the money for myself, to finance my travelling or something. This was one instance were it became really important for me to prove them wrong, because it really hurts when you try to show some heart and people react by being suspicious and mean towards you.

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- The future?
- I don’t know. I don’t really have any goals. Stuff just falls into place, day by day. I’ll get a phone call from someone, asking me to be part of something or be somewhere, and I’m like “Sure”. Next week, it’s something different. Life shouldn’t be laid out like that, planning way ahead. Things happen for a reason, and if you live and act by the right intentions, stay humble and work hard, you’ll be able to achieve anything.

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Text: Patrick Engelberg
Photo: Michael Ray Vera Cruz Angeles