documenting britain's grunge revolution
The second issue of 'Collection of Documentaries' is out, and contrary to what you read in the news, it says that we are NOT a lost generation!
Photography Michael Salerno
By day Lee Crichton is an East End hairdresser, by night he's the editor-in-chief of Collection of Documentaries, a biannual magazine investigating the effect of British culture on youth worldwide. Working alongside photographic curator Winter Vandenbrink, Crichton provides a platform for new photographers and writers to publish their work. Issue two reminisces about coming of age in the 90s, gets nostalgic over rave culture, and looks at social media's influence on Generation Z. With stories of kids "declaring war on their hairdressers, wearing anything stripy and diving into the very depth of the Grunge revolution," and musings on a lost generation, where if someone wants to fuck you they'll just add you on Facebook or like your first ever Instagram post (yes, that's a thing), C.O.D. gets right to the roots of British youth culture. But overall, the issue reminds us that out of every "lost generation," something new is born - think of the mods, the punks and the teddy boys. It's hopeful for Britain's future, which a lot of people aren't right now…
Lee, where are you from?
I am from the most idyllic fishing village in the north west of the Scottish Highlands, called Mellon Charles.
Where did the idea for C.O.D. come from?
The idea for C.O.D. really evolved over the years - from me being a kid reading various magazines, including The Face, which was a huge inspiration, to when I first came to London in 2005 and was introduced to WIG magazine, which I craved to call my own. Obviously it wasn't, so the next best thing was starting my own.
Why did you decide to have no online presence?
Personally, online presence for me is a little tiresome. I feel a lot of people have this huge online character and when you meet them in real life they have nothing to say, this was the first reason. I also don't like this continued updating of social media letting people know what you or your project are up to. If it's good enough, people will find it; you don't need to rely on social media to grow yourself or your creative project!
Do you use social media yourself?
I use social media for my hair studio, tailoredbyno5.com. I find it really beneficial for business, to reach out to customers and grow, but on a personal and creative level I don't possess that desire to keep everyone informed about everything I'm doing all of the time. I did get invited to take over the Mother London Instagram this week which was pretty cool - it's incredible how many likes you get by posting the same image nine times in a week (might have something to do with their 23,000 followers!).
What was your youth like growing up in Britain?
I was super lucky to grow up in such a remote place which really allowed me to enjoy my youth. I mostly spent my childhood glued to Football Italia on Channel 4 or pretending I was one of those footballers in my garden. The place I am from is full of things to discover, so building dens, camping, racing motorbikes and drawing a lot was a big part of growing up. It was really great now I think about it!
How do you find the photographers and writers you commission?
The photographers are sourced by photographic curator Winter Vandenbrink and myself. Winter is mostly in charge of this and spends hours searching for who we believe are the new and unseen photographers out there. Our subeditor Elizabeth Gregory is in charge of finding writers, I also like to get involved.
Can you tell us a bit about the Gabber story by Dennis Duijnhouwer?
Winter is from Holland and he describes the term "Gabber" as groups who are into really hardcore techno music - it originated in Rotterdam after the whole acid house phase and is still very apparent in rural Holland as you can see from the youths in the photos.
What does the future of rave culture hold, do you think?
To be honest, I think the rave culture probably slipped off in around 2010-ish, or maybe it's just because I stopped going raving then. I think there is most certainly a rave culture happening but not on the scale it used to be run on. I suppose social media has affected this, as people used to meet in huge warehouses, fields, etc., without phones and just dance. Now, I seem to notice people are not letting go the same when they dance - they're more bothered about taking a picture than they are about the music. There's a great piece of writing in Issue 2 relating to this by Illiana Magra.
Through your research for C.O.D., where has the best rave culture today?
I don't think there's one place at the moment that has the best rave scene, I know of a new rave scene happening in London at the moment where the parties are only for 30 people - leave your phones at the door, and enjoy the music. Maybe this is the pioneering I was talking about previously!
Apparently we have the worst economic prospects for several generations, do you think we are the lost generation?
Every generation is lost, this is why mods, skins, teddy boys, etc., were born. Everyone says things are getting worse, but I think it's just we have more technology and science to make us believe we are. People are getting smarter all the time and incidentally we are getting more dissatisfied with our current economic climate. It's just moving with the times. People say having the Conservatives in power is going to wreck the country, well, people said that about Margaret Thatcher and we're still going strong. I think we should count ourselves lucky.
Do you agree with those who say London is "over" due to rising cost of living and gentrification?
Maybe, I don't know. It feels like London is just one big place now, there used to be such a definitive contrast between areas in London - east and west used to be miles apart and now it can be hard to tell the difference. It's a shame so many creatives are getting forced out, but this just breeds new life into other cities worldwide, which is exciting. It's scary to think maybe in years to come only the rich will be able to live here, but I say let's enjoy it while we can.
Is our addiction to social media adding to us being the "lost generation" in a different sense?
A lot of people are more bothered about what other people are doing than what they should be getting on with. I wonder how many hours a week people spend flicking through Instagram, instead of getting on with something beneficial. Social media is here now and there's not much we can do about it. I reckon it's only going to get worse, so if we are lost, good luck trying to find us again. I suppose someone also said this in 1996 when the internet came out, and I believe everything has its good and bad sides, I just ain't a fan of social media!
Which is your favorite collection from this issue and why?
I have two; Micheal Salerno and Jack Davison. Micheal's is just a really clever story; a nice use of collage and colors, it's super strong. The kid with the cigarette and no eyes is my favorite image. Jack Davison - well just look at it! I love his black and white work, I can just study it for hours. He's by far the most talented photographer out there, as well as our own photographic curator, of course!
What would you like to explore in Issue 3?
I think we are going to move away from the loose British theme connected with C.O.D. It's been fun exploring it but I think we might move stateside to see what those crazy yanks have been up to. Issue 3 is on shelves in March next year, so will be interesting to see what we come up with!
Text Felicity Kinsella