Yup, that is indeed Ahmir Khalib Thompson staring slighty reluctant in my Polaroid lens, but more about that later. It’s that time of the year again where we stand still with the things we have done and experienced the past year. It’s also the time of the year where sweet carols and heartwarming stories are highly welcomed to enhance that fuzzy atmosphere the holidays evoke. The question if I like Christmas is one I rather leave open for debate, but that doesn’t mean I can’t play along. The (Polaroid) show must go on right?
So for this special ‘ho ho ho’ occasion I went in my A Polaroid Story secret stash of unpublished Polaroids and I bumped into this Polaroid from DJ, producer, your favorite drummer’s favorite drummer, walking music encyclopedia, The Roots co-founder and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s band leader, none other than…. thé QUESTLOVE.
I already met Questlove, (catch up on that here) he is the second artist I took a Polaroid from for this blog almost 4 years ago and my encounter with him in a backstage room at the ‘Feest In Het Park’ Festival in Belgium is still one of my favorite moments. I didn’t feature Questlove in my ‘A Polaroid Story Expo’ for nothing. I’m super proud I have this legendary artist in my set of Polaroids. If you re-read the first story behind Questlove’s Polaroid , you almost feel the rookie-ness of yours truly flowing out the story. A legit Polaroid Story and music industry virgin. Sigh… Stumbling over this Polaroid in my secret stash and remembering the story attached to it made me go into an impromptu Questlove Youtube session and I decided to make a top 10 of my favorite Questlove videos and tell you the slightly odd story that is behind the Polaroid shot. But only because it’s Christmas. 😉
First things first of course! This is the time of the year that you actually have the time (well… at least I have) to watch all those YouTube videos you told yourself you’d watch one day. Well. Here are 10 Questlove videos you just hàve to watch:
10. Questlove about Amy Winehouse
9. Questlove and Nuardwar
8. Questlove reviewing Marvin Gay’s What’s Going On.
7. Questlove in the ADD COLOUR video
6. Questlove about his job as a band leader for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
5. Questlove & The Roots at Jay-Z’s MTV unplugged session
4. Questlove’s record library aka his ‘Music Lovers Haven’ with more than 70.000 records.
3. Questlove’s Charlie Sheen Winning remix.
2. Questlove’s very first video feature in this Boys II Men video
and to finish off properly for the occasion…. (I bet this video is going down in XMAS history)
1. Questlove’s contribution in the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon ‘All I want for Christmas’ rendition.
Now. Let me tell you the story behind this Polaroid.
It’s a short one. I promise.
To achieve the Polaroid goals that I have in mind for this blog, a focused mind is a necessary tool. If you think I go to all of these concerts, clubs and festivals, chilling, relaxing, having my smoke and drink on while waiting for my artists to magically land in front of my Polaroid lens, you are thoroughly mistaken. Observation is a massive aspect in the road to a Polaroid and observing while having a drink and smoking a joint (something I mìght or might not occasionally do in my free time) is simply not an option. FOCUS IS KEY. This means when I go out and about hunting for Polaroids, I prefer nòt to drink untill àfter the work is done. This means you have a drink when you have the results or you have your ‘I’m so disappointed shit didn’t work out’ drink when you ended up without. However. This is the one occasion in about 4 years I probably was completely drunk when I took the Polaroid. Well, not probably, more like definitely.This is how it all went down.
The Roots were in town (Antwerp that is) and none other than NATHAN, a Belgian independent recording artist, deejay, promoter & party host with a big love for soul and familiar with throwing soul parties all over Belgium and beyond, booked Questlove to do a DJ-gig in CLUB MAGIC after the band’s performance.(That’s the same club I gave my second ‘A Polaroid Story’ party with Spoek Mathambo, remember?) Together with my friend and super assistant for this blog, Aicha, we went to see The Roots perform at Rivierenhof which is a super location, since it’s an outside theater, so if the weather is great, this an awesome setting to enjoy music. They say ‘After The Show, It’s The Afterparty’ and that’s exactly how it went down. Me and Aicha hopped from Rivierenhof to CLUB MAGIC were we immediately found Questlove behind the one and two’s.
Hunting for Polaroid in clubs is slightly different from concert venues or festivals, it might go easier or it might not happen at all, and the tricky part is not to get lost in the party aspect of your surroundings, which is kind of a challenge if you are ‘working’ at hours passed your bedtime. Me and Aicha were a bit tired so we decided to have a rum and coke to stay awake and get our groove on while waiting for a moment with Questlove and hopefully take a second Polaroid of the man. Problem was, neither of us had cash money in our pockets because we went straight from the concert to the club and forgot to stop at an ATM machine to grab some cash. Fortunately you could pay with your credit card at the club and this is where it got tricky… You could only pay with your card if you ordered something starting from 25€. So this meant that Aicha and me started to buy each other rounds with 3 rum and cokes at once that we shared. Multiply that by 3 rounds and you might understand how Aicha and me got rather wasted in 3 hours time.
I really hate working with alcohol in my veins, it affects the drive and the focus I need to do this blog and have the results I need, so thank god Nathan knows me and my work and waved that I could follow him the minute Questlove finished his set and escaped from the backdoor of the club. Questlove agreed to take some promo shots for the club’s photographer in an empty corner of the hotel where Club Magic is located, but I did notice that the man was super tired and was doing these final shots as an act of kindness, the pictures needed to be taken STAT. I couldn’t blame him, I mean, everybody was drunk (No, it wasn’t just me) and everybody needed a picture from him, so I explained him real quick that we met before and I would love to take another Polaroid from him, which he was down for. I felt that I needed to be quick and I also felt a bit guilty bothering him in my drunk state of mind so I aimed my Polaroid and kept it with one Polaroid.
I also found an exhibit in the CLUB MAGIC party report of the evening.
Questlove went straight to his hotel room after and that’s the end of that. This encounter couldn’t have been more different from the first time I met Amir, all alone and peaceful in his backstage room but I guess it is what it is. The next morning I woke up with a legendary hangover and a picture in my phone of a dude’s arm with my name tattooed on it.
What a night…
I was planning to hold on to this Polaroid for a while because I was still figuring out how I was going to feature it since the story is basically something like ‘went to the club, got fucked up and got lucky’ when a few days later one of my best friends told me: “Hey Ouni, you are featured in De Standaard newspaper!” one of Belgium’s quality newspapers. I was totally surprised. I mean, sure I have my #APS press coverage from time to time, but I didn’t really have something going on that specific moment so I grabbed the newspaper at work and flipped trough the pages to eventually find this headline staring at me:
‘AFTER PARTIES ARE BIG BUSINESS‘
with a picture of me hugging Questlove like he is my best friend surrounded by dudes I don’t know. (Well, except Nathan)
Okay. I guess the word is out that I saw Questlove, no need to keep that a secret no more, Flemish speaking Belgium is aware now. When I read the article the only thing I could think of was, how ironic it was to have my face in a respected newspaper hugging an artist like my life depended on it. Yeah. I know. Blame it on the A-A-A-A-A-Alcohol, ight? I never hug artists on pictures. Never. Well, hold on, not nèver. I hugged Gil-Scott Heron but that’s different, he is a legend.
And I did hug Questlove when we first met too but that just… happened. The man is a teddy bear for christ sake!
So now I was hugging Questlove all over again, this time in a national newspaper with no mention of my blog what so ever, so basically if you don’t know me or know what I do, you might look at this picture and see me as your random groupie hugger. This is what alcohol does to you. It’s the devil.
There you go. This was my Questmas carol.Raw and unedited. Just for you.