Marcus Maddox is a music and fashion photographer based in Nashville, TN. Since last year, he has been documenting Nashville's underground music scene, largely the show-goers and fans that comprise the bulk of the community. His efforts have culminated in POM POMS Vol 1, which will be released on August 18th.
We spoke to Marcus about POM POMS -- the inspiration behind it, his goals for it, and the future of the project.
What's your background and upbringing?
I grew up in East Nashville in a middle class family. I attended the University School of Nashville for high school, and it was a wonderful experience. While there I gained a heavy interest in skateboarding, which is the root of almost all my artistic expressions.I was brought up on hip-hop and R&B music, but skateboarding opened up my mind to rock.
Are there any people or things you look to for inspiration or artistic guidance?
Music is a big inspiration for me. I started taking pictures because I couldn't play music. So I try to take pictures the way music makes me feel. I really look up to Kelia Anne MacCluskey. She's my favorite photographer, and she's like one year older than me. She does what I strive to do: make dreamlike imagery that can fit well with dreamlike music. She's my #1.
Describe the experience you have had working on POM POMS and the Nashville scene at-large. What have you learned?
POM POMS as an idea developed really slowly. It started as a small series about interesting people waiting in line to go to shows. But I realized that people-watching was so interesting inside of a show, that I had to document it. So I took pictures at 64 shows at 20 different venues to document the life of the scene.
It is more beautiful than people can imagine. While editing a lot of the photos, I listen to nostalgic music and have old movies playing in the background. My process kind of reminds me of the studio environment that Frank Ocean had while recording channel ORANGE. He projected old movies in the studio background while recording. While making POM POMS I've learned that ordinary moments by ordinary people can be incredibly significant once you attach a meaning to it.
" I realized that people-watching was so interesting inside of a show, that I had to document it. So I took pictures at 64 shows at 20 different venues to document the life of the scene. "
Any special moments that have stuck with you?
While at EXIT/IN I took this picture called "Innocent" -- an incredible moment early on in the series. I found these two people hanging out by the bathroom. An innocent looking girl, and a guy with face tattoos. They were watching the show, but then noticed that I was taking their picture. They turned around, stayed still, and let me take the picture without changing their expressions whatsoever. It was amazing because everyone laughs or gets fake when they see me. But they stayed the way they were inside, and remained calm. It was too real.
What is the message behind POM POMS?
POM POMS is about the unending struggle for humans to connect. Music creates a community of like-minded individuals, and that is beautiful. People from all over come to see the stars onstage, but life is also happening offstage -- in the crowd. It is well worth documentation.
" While making POM POMS I've learned that ordinary moments by ordinary people can be incredibly significant once you attach a meaning to it. "
What initially inspired you to pursue this project?
What inspired this project was my genuine interest in people of the DIY music scene. Their style, their culture, everything about them. But what really drove me was my aching loneliness at shows. I go to everything by myself, and as a reaction of having no sort of relationship to experience at a show, I observed others. I wanted to photograph moments that musicians would write songs about.
Do you plan on exploring more places, cities, and people?
I plan on continuing POM POMS in other cities. There may be a "POM POMS: NEW YORK" or "POM POMS: LOS ANGELES" one day. My biggest dream would be to make an Australian edition though.