Most know Jamie Hince as the guitarist of The Kills—the punk-garage style rock band founded in 2000 with singer Alison Mosshart. They’ve hit the UK Singles Chart, toured worldwide and premiered a track on the past season of The Walking Dead. But there’s another side to Jamie that many are unaware of, one that is a bit more introspective than his music.
On a sticky summer night in New York, following The Kills’ performance at Governor’s Ball last year, I met the band for the first time at a party in SoHo. There, atop a hotel penthouse, Alison triggered a pair of Pioneer CDJs, as Manhattan’s creative elite conversed among an open bar and a crowd of writers, artists and an architect who claimed to have designed the very structure beneath our feet. It was the kind of crowd who talked of what The Village used to be—how Brooklyn will never live up to what the city once was.
Yet, this awfully exquisite cocktail jabber was not why I, or anyone else, had come—we were here for Jamie, who debuted his first photography opening, Echo Home, at the famed Morrison Hotel Gallery earlier that evening.
As the husband of supermodel Kate Moss, you’d imagine photography would be embedded in Jamie’s psyche. With Kate as arguably the most hyped name in fashion, understanding both sides of the lens is as much of an asset as a brag. But for Jamie, his likeness to the medium came years before he met his wife. It was an art form he could quietly produce on the road—and one he never thought would be discovered. “Life on the road is quite often the inside of a tour bus and or time backstage,” Jamie says. “Those things can be pretty exhausted or generic. What I look to capture are the surprises along the way, or small details that may be overlooked.”
His photographs, shot on film (Jamie’s favorite camera at the moment is a medium format Rolleiflex), display a rough, grungy aesthetic: there is grain in every shot, with subject matter ranging from a hazy hotel window, to a nude woman collapsed over a toilet. According to Jamie, many of these exposures were “accidental”—a style long abandoned by much of the photography world today. “There comes a point when you experiment with doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing,” he says. “With the Instagram generation, there is a particular aesthetic that people use and my instinct is to move away from that—its very smooth and filtered. I used to love it, but I’m kind of overwhelmed by it now.”
Jamie tells me that he sees music as a much more deliberate medium. He decides what he likes and what he doesn’t, then navigates his way through those parameters. Though he explicitly states that photography isn’t something in which he seeks to make a statement, he acknowledges his taste for minimalism—to convey something through one thing rather than 10. This is the style The Kills is known for. And it’s a bit more apparent in his photography than he seems to believe. “I like the aspect of not approaching it as something people will see—it’s much purer for me. I’m not doing it as a job or for public consumption. It’s a very honest thing,” he adds.
It’s well past midnight, and I chat with Alison by the turntable setup. She playfully scolds me for peeking at her nonexclusive setlist. I then spot Daniel Kessler of Interpol, but Jamie has yet to arrive. By now, the open bar has closed. Cigarettes are scarce. And I’m ready to head home to Brooklyn—especially since the city isn’t what it used to be.
But perhaps Jamie’s absence is the very essence of his work: introverted and raw. I then make my way towards the elevator, as the door slides open. Jamie steps out, and I step in. He nods with a smile; I do the same. But like the style of his photographs, his late arrival may be a bit more deliberate than one might think. After all, you could say there are no accidents in art—just curations of our experiences and identities.
This article was originally published in the summer 2015 “Rock and Roll” issue of Resource Magazine. Visit the Resource Mag Shop to pick up a copy. The featured image of this post was photographed by Jamie Hince.