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Odd Future Voodoo Music Experience Incident - Amy Harris Interview and Exclusive Photos

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We go back to the day of the original "gangsta rappers"... NWA, Public Enemy et al. Rappers who led a hard lifestyle and spoke the political and social truth as uncomfortable as it may have been to hear at the time. I still love them. Odd Future appears to aspire to be the current hard-core rap icons. Unfortunately some of their members chose to take their rath out on the photographic media covering the Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans, LA on Sunday October 30th. Vocalizing their disdain for photographers as well as dousing them with water and physically striking the people who actually are there to help them get the word out to their fans.

Amazingly, there is a movement afoot to deny the situation as Billboard has published the following quote from an Odd Future representative:

“There simply is no truth to the accusation floating around the internet. It’s no secret that Odd Future has a love/hate relationship with photographers at shows. [It’s] simply because they are given access the group wishes their fans would have instead.

“After telling the photographers to clear out multiple times (as they’ve done before) Vyron (Leftbrain) took a swipe at a few cameras, NOT people. To manipulate the situation [and] to insinuate an attack on a woman specifically is careless and manipulative.”

To say the swipes were at cameras is purely symantics. A photographer’s camera is pressed against his eye and his nose… a hand is also pressed hard against a cheek. To hit a camera while shooting is like getting hit in the face with the camera. I know, I’ve had it happen to me.

We spoke with a Amy Harris today to get the latest. Also, here are some never seen photos of the incident.

Odd Future’s Left Brain swings at Amy Harris

Odd Future’s Left Brain swings at photographer Chris Schwegler

Odd Future’s Left Brain kicks over video tripod


Musicpix: Tell us what happened?

Amy Harris: We’d been at Voodoo Festival (New Orleans) shooting for two and a half days…we arrived on Friday and shot Saturday and Sunday.  We’d gone out to the main stage to shoot Odd Future and to be honest, I wasn’t that familiar with the band.  It’s not that odd for festivals to have bands that aren’t as mainstream that I haven’t shot before.  I went out with the rest of the photographers and there seemed to be a lot of interest in this band.  Basically, the DJ came out and started playing music and I just thought it was just going to be a really fun shoot…he got the crowd dancing and it was going to be exciting and fun to photograph.  I do this (photojournalism) because I enjoy it.  I love to take photographs.  I love music and I love to cover it.  I really just thought it was going to be a fun experience.

The first two guys came out and started to rap and do their music.  Actually, at that point there were no issues.  Then Tyler came out and started his verses and his raps and targeted the photographers and started yelling and cussing at the photographers telling us how much he hated us because he said that the fans pay a lot of money and the photographers get in their way.  To use his words:  he hated us and then used very bad language toward us.  Honestly, that didn’t deter me because I’ve had musicians get angry with photographers before and make comments and sometimes it’s just theatrics .  I just kept shooting the show but after Tyler made those comments, a couple of the other band members felt like they had to continue the rant against photographers.  They started to pour water directly on camera lenses and screamed and called us names and got in our faces.  Left Brain made his way across the stage and actually swiped and hit camera lenses and kicked over a tripod.  At that point, I still didn’t feel unsafe.  They let us be there to shoot.  I really didn’t think that he would come near me because I was a female photographer.   Typically, bands won’t do that to me when I’m in the pit.  I’ve been doing this for many years with many bands.  Left Brain came over to me and yelled directly in my face: “I hate you bitch" and he slapped me across the face and knocked the camera from my face.  I have a long guitar strap that holds my camera equipment and it knocked it loose but I caught it right before it hit the ground.  I was in shock from what just happened.  I moved back and continued until he knocked the camera from my face so those are the shots you see online.  The shots of him holding his arm back ready to hit me.  I moved back but my lens was out of focus and I couldn’t get my equipment working.  Quickly after that, they officially ushered us out of the pit to the media area where I immediately reported the incident to the PR team, the promoters and our contacts on site to let them know what happened.


Musicpix: Why didn’t you move?

Amy Harris: In the back of my mind, I was just shooting what was happening and trying to capture the show.  Again, it’s one thing to see them swatting and hitting but that the same time, I truly didn’t think he’d bother me.  It didn’t cross my mind that he’d continue to come at me.  I just wanted to continue to shoot the show.  Again, it’s a hard thing to decipher with performers as to what’s theatrics and what’s a part of the show and what’s serious.  In all the acts that I’ve shot, I’ve never encountered a situation that became violent other than spraying water on the crowd.

Musicpix: Do you think he singled you out as a woman?

Amy Harris: I don’t.  I’ve not stated that.  He had extreme anger and angst against the photographers in general.  The bottom line is that he hit a female.  And it’s obvious that I’m a female .  For someone to slap a female in the face for any reason, at any time, is just wrong.  Whether he singled me out to do it, I don’t know.  The sheer fact that it happened, is a huge problem.

Musicpix: Are you going to press charges?

Amy Harris: I chose not to press charges at the time.  Several people came up to me immediately and asked if I was going to find the police and have him arrested.  Numerous people asked and I said, no, I’m not going to do that.  I guess there were a couple of things running through my mind at that moment.  I was really in shock that it happened in the first place.  I was there to do a job for numerous publications.  I work with Corbis Images, Venues Today, The Dead Hub and City Beat so I had a huge job physically to do there…to cover the festival.  Immediately after the incident, I had an interview set up with Stephen Rehage, the founder and CEO of Voodoo for a separate piece for Venues Today Magazine.  The only thing running through my head at that point was that I needed to finish my work, to make sure my equipment was functional and to calm down.  It’s just shocking.  I didn’t feel like having him arrested was the right thing to do because I literally thought that they would apologize for the theatrics and the antics or give me some sort of explanation.

Musicpix: A couple of days have passed…. there seems to be some negative things being said about you.

Amy Harris: I can safely say that I would never want to put myself in this situation.  I didn’t ask to be put on the internet.  I didn’t seek this out.  I’m trying to take the high road.  But it does really bother me that people can question my motives after what happened.  The fact is he hit me, the fact is, I’m a female..that’s a huge problem in and of itself.  It’s about professional courtesy and the fact that people are there to do a job and give performers press.  Photographers are media and they are there to give press for bands in a positive manner.  The fact that they’ve crossed the line and gone so far as to deny, or say what I said is not true, is very bothersome to me.  I am now taking a step back and considering my options at this point and looking into how to proceed and move forward.  I didn’t want to be put in this situation.  I was just doing my job.  I was expecting an apology and the opposite has occurred.   It’s really very shocking to me.

Published: November 01, 2011  | 0 comments