TRIP: Meet the photographer behind psych's newest documentary
Upon seeing photographer Lilly Creightmore’s work for the first time it was apparent to us that she had a special talent behind the camera, so when she announced she was working on a feature film focusing on the global psychedelic music scene you could imagine how excited we got. Collected over the past ten years, Creightmore has travelled near and afar, documenting the eccentric minds that spew out what we call psychedelia for TRIP. Hell, it even features Roky Erickson.
We caught up with the artist to hear a bit more about her work and her new film TRIP.
Hey Lilly. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing. Where were you living when you first picked up a camera and what made you do so?
The first photo I took was when I was five, it was of my toy frog George, in a flower bed. I grew up between my maternal grandparents and foster family in a hippie community in Sussex, as my parents were a bit too strung out to take care of me when I was young. Despite their difficulties I never had a lack of love from all sides and my Grandmother always nurtured my creativity, sent me to Steiner school, supported my pony obsession and took me to Dungeness to stalk Derek Jarman annually.
You focus on musicians, poets and artists. What draws you to such characters?
My lineage most probably. We’re a bunch of mongrel outsiders, non conformist anarchists, farmers and Romany Gypsies, with exception to my Grandfathers, born on the same day, both Capricorn like me, one was a high court judge who grew up in Australia, I have fond memories of him and his acerbic Aussie wit. He made a lot of money as John, George and Ringo’s barrister when Paul left The Beatles, which paid my school bills 20 years later. My paternal grandfather is still alive, a mysterious character born in India with claim to Indian royalty, he joined the British Navy at 18, sailed to London and never looked back. He experienced all the racist crap you can imagine a young Indian man would have arriving in 50’s Britain and set about making himself a success in societies eyes. He tells me he holds a high position in his Masonic Lodge and attends the Covent Garden Masonic Temple regularly, I know very little more about him.
So a “normal” path or job is not really something I was ever destined for and the people I work with I consider as much my family as my family.
You’ve been crowdfunding lately for your new feature documentary TRIP. Congrats on getting the money! What’s the story behind TRIP?
Thank you, it’s all very exciting and nerve wracking. The story is yet to be finished, you’ll have to wait to see it to find out..
When did you start shooting, and did you always have the idea to make a feature film from it?
It began on a spontaneous trip to Austin in 2008. The Black Angels were just starting out and I ended up crashing at theirs, falling in love and hitting the road for three months later that year with cameras in hand. Everyone was so welcoming and took care of my wreckless 23 year old self. The Western World was a very different place then, the financial disaster had just begun, Obama was elected as President while I was in the USA and there was a lot of optimism amongst us, a very different America to now. Meeting all the wonderful folks on that trip snowballed into this ten year old child I am now releasing into the wild!
You work with some influential artists in it, including Roky Erickson, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Black Angels. How was working with such big names in psychedelia?
I really really lucked out, as is often the case with these things. It was down to good timing and maybe a bit of coincidence or fate. I was pretty shy, so it definitely wasn’t a case of trying so hard, it was just based on having a dream and pursuing it. Most things fell into place because I opened myself to them and wasn’t afraid to empty my bank account to get places and give up most material desires. It was definitely tough at times, being around a lot of destructive behaviour and predominantly male musicians, but apart from a bit of heartbreak and one or two alcohol induced arguments, everyone I’ve worked with to this day I consider a good friend and ceaselessly inspiring as humans and artists and I am so appreciative for that.
Tell us, what does psych mean to you?
Ultimately it is to be open, in attitude and consciousness. The term as a musical genre is definitely that and you can experience it for yourself when you attend any number of the festivals and nights our community puts on. No one sound, style, is, or should be associated with the term Psychedelia in the 21st century!
What excites you most about the psychedelic music and arts culture?
As above, the openness, the warmth, we’re a big, loving, weird, funny, fuzzy, global family!
You’ve had the opportunity to travel all over. Where’s your favourite spot to go to?
Oh man I’ve been yo-yo-ing between London, Austin, Los Angeles, Europe, Iceland and South Africa a lot these past ten years. I couldn’t possibly say where I like best, but I do regret that I haven’t been East much or Down Under yet. I’m hoping that’ll change next year, once the film is done.
Do you see a lot of difference in each local scene or is it globally quite similar?
I do see and feel a difference between the scene in the UK/Europe, South Africa and in The States, and I do feel very lucky to have an insight into all sides and cities, having worked closely with Fuzz Club, Levitation, Psych Night and Desert Daze, as well as many of the bands that make these festivals and labels what they are. But I see a lot more similarities in us all. If we could assemble ourselves as a political party we would solve a lot of the worlds problems in a day...
What are you most looking forward to when finally being able to share TRIP with the public?
Sharing the love. Story telling is so important for humanity, for understanding ourselves and others better, hopefully with that will come more opportunity to visit new places and then start it all over again, with another film, or book, or both…