Hi Melchior. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Lets start at the beginning... To me it seems like there is a tremendous degree of honesty and personality in your work. Can you tell a bit about your background, where and how did you grow up and what influenced you early in life?
Hello to you. I grew up in the Parisian suburbs where I still live. My first interests were manga, football and rap. These are the first three areas that I was interested in as a kid and these are still central to my everyday life. It's funny to see now that we were called little and stupid as nobody took these topics serious at the time, while today all this is considered mainstream.
Dragon Ball Z has been a real hit for a whole generation and I am pleased to see that a new generation is equally sensitive to this series. The duality of good and evil, the chivalrous spirit, the mutual help - these are good values and I think that's why that remains.
Generations are often reactionary to what is happening and it takes time to accept the new elements. The economy is also largely responsible for the new public face of things, whether with football, manga or fashion - from the moment it generates a lot of money then suddenly, that's fine, haha. Internet has greatly contributed to brew different cultures together, social networks are a big marker of what works or not, what affects people, at the same time everything becomes "fashion of the moment" and we move much more quickly to something else. It's not a very romantic time, It's a time of antidepressants.
How did you first get into photography?
I started taking pictures in high school and my first camera was a little digital one. We filmed when we were playing football or when some bullshit happened at school. Nothing serious, it was just fun. After that, there were the metal concerts or we took pictures with the musicians before and after the concerts. But it's especially the first film premieres on the Champs Elysees and the signing sessions that got me into photography. I loved looking for info and waiting for hours in the hope of taking a picture of the movie stars. Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Mickey Rourke, Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, Nicole Kidman, Sylvester Stallone, Christian Bale, Daniel Craig, Johnny Deep, Tim Burton and many others. This taught me to be patient and not to be impressed by people with high social skills.
It was a time when the word "star" was aptly named, there was no false proximity to Instagram - we saw them on the screen and in magazines and the only time we could see them in real life and verify that they really exist, was during these first confrontations in their presence. Sometimes they left a dedication or a photo as stardust. These are my first emotions with taking pictures, my first challenges.
You have photographed many different subcultures - from the French rap community to heavy metal fans. Can you put a few words on what fascinates you about subcultures?
I grew up with rap and its culture. I bought my first CD when I was 9 years old and I continue to buy it regularly, so it has always been my culture. I got into metal a little later when I was in high school. I would not feel like doing a personal project about something that does not affect me first hand. I do not project subjects to my photos, it is really the extension of my every day life, opportunities, meetings, what fascinates me, and my state of mind at the moment. The term "underground culture" is a word used from an outside view. This is what I love in rap and metal, these are communities where labels are not important because it's normal and about the every day life. It amuses me to see T-shirts worn by rap stars who have never listened to 'Cradle of Filth' or 'Grateful Dead'. I do not see this as a bad thing, everyone can do as he wants and I think that there is more important issues to complain about. Rap is now the most listened to music, it replaced rock which had been in a rotten state for years, everything is cyclical. It's no wonder that Nirvana is once again in Vogue, Kurt Cobain is one of the last legends of sincerity just like Lemmy Kilmister - they both embody something that goes beyond their backgrounds.
Anyway, this is rap or metal, there are people who love the surface because it has a fashion label now and there are the real fan of the genre who listen to this everyday, waiting for album releases and who go to the concert or who talk about it with their friends. In general, I like what is sincere and not manufactured.
What are your plans for the future? Do you have any upcoming projects or areas you wish to explore?
I'm going to make books and fanzines with some Parisian editors who do a good job. One on French rap seen by the prism of a rap fan, one on the ultra 90's culture in football, and another one starting from my diverse collection. We will try to do things well.
I continue my T-shirt collection by surveying flea markets, garbage cans and the web, I must have more than 2500, we'll see where it leads, it takes almost all of one of my walls. I sleep against the wall. I will also return to Asia - Thailand and Japan. It's a new need, but in the face of the difficulty of living in general and the current state of Paris, which goes through dark years, I need to see the world in its oldest form, to think of something else and refocus on what is important in the long run. I dream of going to Egypt to see the Pyramids and the Sphinxes, I dream of going to see Northern Lights in Lapland or going to Africa or the Amazon for fauna and flora.
When it does not fit in my head, I think about the world, the planet, the nature that delights me more than bullshit travels by space shuttle for the same assholes who legally damage the planet and make it die for personal profit.
As the tag line of the first X-Files movie, fight the future.
Text: Morten Meldgaard
Photography: Melchior Tersen
Photography: Melchior Tersen
As described above, both Melchiors work and life are strongly influenced by rap and metal and it seemed only natural to ask him to contribute with a mix for our Muzak project. The muzak mix he created is a fierce selection of French rap handpicked and assembled by a passionate and sincere connoisseur.