Tell me a bit about why you made the book. Like, what prompted the topic of kissing?
It was just something that I noticed a lot of people were taking photos of or had in their personal collection of photos. It was also around the time when a lot of people were breaking up, kind of at the end of last year. It seemed like everyone had these six year relationships ending—like, everyone was like, ‘I can’t take this anymore.’ So many people I know broke up, and I also broke up with my boyfriend. I mean, I didn’t break up with him, we just broke up. So, for the writing in the book, I asked people to send in their ideas on relationships or their ideas on love—and this was all happening before the time when everyone was breaking up. The book started before that happened. But then it was all coming together while that was happening so I was like, ‘Oh shit.’
That made it interesting to read everyone’s perspectives and they were all really personal. Even when they were funny, they were generally pretty sad—regarding love and how it affects people. A lot of people were really insecure about their writing too. But I just connected the writing with all of the photos. Sometimes the people writing the pieces weren’t the photographers who shot the photos, but there was something overlapping with the themes—laughing or tackling someone or spitting in someone’s face. And then the writing would be about like, ‘licking the sweat off of them.’ So, it all overlapped well and came together really nicely.
There’s a lot of different photographers in the book. How was the process of editing all those different artists’ work into a single book?
It took a long time! And I put it together with my friend Aida [Nizankovska], who I do Film Hooligans with. We asked people to send in their photos—some people only sent in a few, so that was easy to just be like, ‘Okay if you sent three then they’re all in.’ But other people sent in like fifteen or twenty photographs and it was like, ‘Okay, let's go through them and see which ones work best.’ So, it took a little over a year.
What were you looking for in the photos that you chose?
I wanted to have the work encompass a lot of different feelings of love. Some of the pictures are really tender, there’re people who are having sex, there’s a photo of a mouth kissing through Skype—which is relatable. There are also people who are not enjoying the kisses, they’re like, ‘Ugh, get away from me, don’t kiss me.’ I wanted to bring a lot of different perspectives together.
Talk to me a bit about Film Hooligans. What is it?
Film Hooligans also started as just an idea to showcase people’s film diaries, because so many people take film photos. For Instagram things are always really edited—it shows the ideal of someone’s life and it’s usually a way people are trying to come across. A lot of people still take film photos and they are so excited about them, but then they just keep them to themselves—which is awesome, that’s the point of taking them. But I started taking photos to remember things that were happening in my life that I would forget. Because I do actually go back and look at film photos more than scroll through the old photos in my phone—though I do that, too. But so many people have these diaries laying around, and sometimes you sit down with friends and share them, but not always. So, we just wanted a place for people to submit their photos, then we put them up, and it’s public so anyone can see them and enjoy these photos that are really beautiful, or funny, or show an interesting perspective on life.
There’s a serious magic in the film process—I think it’s got something to do with the fact that you’re working with chemistry, as opposed to pixels or other methods.
You also can’t see the photo immediately after you’ve taken it. With phone photos, people are often like, ‘Oh let’s see!’ or ‘Fix this, fix that—let’s look like this now,’ or people get really staged. That happens in film photos, as well, but I try to get shots that people aren’t expecting—that they don’t realize I’m taking. Just capturing moments—what’s really going on.
How many people are involved with Film Hooligans?
It’s a lot, and it’s always growing. It used to just be close friends, but more and more people have been submitting rolls, so we’ve been able to expand and have more and more types of people involved. I find it interesting because it shows people’s lives—people who are photographers, people who are into music, fashion, or who are artists. These aren’t the perspectives that everyone has in the country, but sometimes I’ll get emails where people are like, ‘Oh this made me pull out my old film camera that I used to use,’ and that’s really exciting.
What made you want to turn Kiss Me into a book as opposed to a section on the Film Hooligans site?
Aida and I have always wanted to do print. It seems like a contradiction sometimes because we run a film website—like an anti-digital space, but our platform is digital. So, we’ve always wanted to have some things in print as a memento. There was one zine we did before this that didn't really have a concept—it was just a mashup of photos and drawings that people sent. So, this was the first one that we had a concept for and actually released.
Do you think people will interact with the work in a unique way because it’s printed, as opposed to what it would be if it were just on the site, where people would view it on their laptop or phone?
I think so—I mean, I hope so. People come into bookstores and connect with work in a way that's totally different from the internet. Plus, they can take it home and look back at it later—I think that makes it more meaningful than just seeing it on screen.
I know you said you were going through a breakup part way through completing the book. Where did making the book put you emotionally?
It was interesting because some of the writing in the book was mine, but it was older, so not all of it was directly about things that were happening in my life at the time—but some of it was. I find that my writing can be vague and interpreted in different ways, but some of it did have to do with my relationship at the time, and my ex-boyfriend also has one piece of writing in the book, as well. It says, ‘Two lips crash landing, neither one left standing,’ and I decided to include it. Then we broke up.
Did you ever want to stop working on the book because you were going through that breakup?
Not really, because I’d been working on it for such a long time and I was really excited with how it was coming together. So, I never really thought about stopping it. Also, there were other old relationships in the book. Marcel [Castenmiller], for instance, sent me photos that include past girlfriends. Luckily, people seem to be chill about moving on.
Have you ever had an unforgettable kiss?
I mean, most of my kisses—not all—but a lot of them have been really meaningful. I’ve always loved kissing—I’m all for it.
My favorite piece from the book is on page 49. It says, ‘Love may be imagined. But the outcomes that it brings are real. If it’s ever screwed you over, at least it taught you how to feel.’ Have you ever experienced a love that didn’t go as planned?
That one’s mine! And it was probably about the relationship I was in before the last one, though it’s relevant to both of them. I feel like when I sense things are going bad, I often do something to make the other person mad and screw things up, which is kind of what another one of my pieces in the book is about. It’s so stupid, and I’m trying not to do shit like that ever again, but I definitely have done things like that, where I’m like, ‘I don’t think you love me, I’m going to kiss this other person in front of you.’ And sometimes, that ends a relationship and you're like, ‘Oh, yeah, that kind of backfired. I guess I deserve it.’
I feel like kissing is less intense than sex, but in a lot of ways, almost more intimate.
Yeah, completely. I find it, in many ways, the most intimate thing—kissing. So, I do get jealous sometimes—I’m trying to be not so jealous now. But I have friends who are in relationships and have threesomes or have open relationships. There’s some people who can do that and some who can’t because they just get too jealous. I’ve always found it really interesting—I guess the mystery of your partner being with someone else creates a jealousy that can keep things new and interesting. I don’t know if I’ll get to that point just yet.
Are there any photos from the book with a wild story behind it? Tell me about the lead image—the one with the two guys kissing that you took.
That was a fun night. That’s my ex-boyfriend and one of my best friends. The three of us, and also with my roommate, would get together and just like, go crazy. On this night, everyone was just kissing everyone. We were playing truth or dare, people were spitting tequila into each other’s mouths—at one point we all kissed every other person. It’s just fun!
Kissing can be way fun if you do it some place you’re not supposed to be doing it. Have you ever kissed somewhere that's like, ‘I should not be making out here but I am doing it anyway.’
I don’t know if there's anywhere you’re truly not supposed to make out. I mean, I like having sex on roofs. I have a couple times and it’s just fun—you’re like, ‘Someone could totally see us, but probably not. Still, they might be watching.’
What’s next for you? Will there ever be a Kiss Me 2?
I’ve mostly been working on music, so it’s a very different endeavor than this. I play in a band and I have another band with some friends. But maybe there could be a sequel. I feel like it would need to have another component to make it different. But there could be!
‘Kiss Me’ is available now at the office Newsstand.