Every once in a while someone crosses our path with a jaw dropping story. Ali Mousavi is such a person. His story as a photographer began just a few years ago, but already he has known many highs and lows in his short career. It’s worth to mention that there is a certain ‘epicness’ in Ali’s gig pictures which we recognized from the photo’s of Rosa Maria Nika (Nika Nika) whom we interviewed a while back. As it turned out that wasn’t a strange thought. Nika was the one who introduced Ali to the dubstep scene, but more on that later! First, sit back and relax and soak up the story of Ali Mousavi.
Ali Mousavi is of Persian heritage but was born and raised in Holland. Since his early years he has been traveling between the Netherlands and the United States, where he also lived for a long while. Ali got into photography because of his father. Ali: “For as long as I can remember I have always seen my dad working with Canon cameras, the old ones… with film… I never asked him how it worked or what his intensions were of being a photographer but I just analysed and was just observing. Untill 2009 when my dad pushed a Canon EOS 350D in my hands and said: It’s time for you to reach out and see if you have the talent and the eye.” The introduction to photography was an obvious eye-opener for Ali. “Being a photographer is not just having a camera and having good edit skills. It’s about capturing the moment and making sure people look at a pic and a thousand questions starts floating through their minds.” Ali continues.
Since his introduction to photography, Ali has directed all his focuss on his camera. “I dropped several big things for photography: My school, my sports, basically whatever I was focussed on at that point. And I haven’t regretted it a single second ever since. I look at things very differently I can’t stop imagining the perfect picture in front of me even while I’m driving my car! It’s the best feeling if you ask me! I met the best people through photography, during my stay in NYC I met the owner of a clothing company www.methodsnyc.com and the owner of the company offered me a shirt collaboration, what for me was the peak of my career and if it’s up to me. I wouldn’t change this for anything else in the world (maybe world peace haha)”, Ali reflects.
“I was in custody right away. Spent 3 weeks in jail (NOT KIDDIN) and got a free return ticket on KLM with a Marshall next to Amsterdam.”
In his short career Ali already got the opportunity of a lifetime in form of an amazing job offer in the United States. Ali: “I was traveling in the United States and working as a freelance photographer and I got the opportunity of my life when they offered me to become one of the 15 photographers at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Florida”. Unfortunately, he never arrived to live that experience. “When they asked me to shoot UMF (ultra music festival) I got so excited that I didn’t think about how important it was to get my visa fixed. I was too naive at the time. And off course I made the biggest mistake ever by getting on public transportation to Miami. By the time we got to Jacksonville I saw this officer looking lady walking through the train asking every single person something and moving forward bit by bit, and still I had no idea what was going on till she asked for my papers, and that was the end of the story for me, I was in custody right away. Spent 3 weeks in jail (NOT KIDDIN) and got a free return ticket on KLM with a Marshall next to Amsterdam. Owh and note: detainees that get deported are NOT allowed to drink on the plane.”
Knowing how they roll in the United States, we ask Ali if he feels like there were chances for him in the US that aren’t available in the Netherlands or the rest of Europe. Ali “Believe it or not, but I wake up with that thought every single day “What happened??? Why is everything so different here”? It hurts to see how fast you were growing in a foreign country where people were waiting in line to work with you, agencies were taking care of flights, bookings, hotels, trips etc. I was all over the place. And all of a sudden you disappear and NO ONE knows what happened and why the hell your back. It’s like comparing an apple with a banana… you’re talking about the States here, mad budget, they blow things up waaay outa proportion, everything is taken care of very professionally, it’s a whole different world. Do I miss it?? Every single day… does it bother me that I don’t have those chances/opportunities here?? No… Cuz if I would be sitting in my room every day, crying about the fact that I’m not getting paid as well as there or whatever, that would make me a sad person. This is what they call a reality check and there is no other option than accepting it. If I work hard enough and show enough dedication and put a lot of passion in my work I will eventually have the same chances here in Europe!”.
Having seen Ali’s pictures, recognizing our music temple Paradiso and sensing the epicness of Nika’s pictures in his, we had to ask Ali where his connection with the music / dubstep scene comes from. “. November 6th 2009, the lovely Rosa Maria Nika introduced me to the dubstep scene, I borrowed my older brothers Canon 5D and we went to the legendary set of Benga n Skream b2b at Mosh in the Paradiso Amsterdam. I fell in love right away, the vibe, the people, the music… it’s so intense. Rosa also introduced me the same night to Theo “Gomes” Fortes (the man behind Oi!) When I think of dubstep I directly link it to these two people (Rosa and Gomes) if it wasn’t up to them I wouldn’t the photographer that I am today. They both received me with open arms and till the day of today I devote my work and dedication to them both! It’s a wonderful scene if you ask me, so many nice people, so many awesome new friends, it’s all happiness and every gig is like a small family meeting!” Ali explains.
“I had no idea what to expect from the American dubstep scene though when I moved there! Now that’s a whole different world compared to Europe based dubstep. I toured around with the Methods Crew (Dave Gee, MC Diggadee and Trigon) in NYC for about a month or so. I met Dave during a gig in North Carolina, he offered me a beer backstage and I handed him my lookbook (a small compilation of my best pics in a book to hand out to dj’s so they could check out my work) he opened it and the first thing he says was: Hey… that’s Trolley Snatcha rocking my hat! Shortly after that he invited me to come to NYC to spend a week at his crib and shoot his notorious Darkroom party in Brooklyn! He took care of me like I was his little brother, FOR REAL!! The first day I got to NYC he hooked me up with shooting Downlink and Excision at a sold out best buy theatre at freakin Times Square. A week after that we decided to do a T-shirt collaboration together. I tell you this… dubstep is about to explode in the states!! Give it two more years I tell you! Owh and the people with the glow sticks?? Whatsup with that hahahaha”
Moving backstage in such an explosive scenes, we have to ask Ali about his biggest Rock ‘n Roll experience. Ali: “Hahahahahaha my craziest “Rock n Roll” experience. NYC, Best buy theatre, backstage area Downlink and Excicion, Dave… homie is you read this!! You know what I mean. Kicked the shit outa everything… threw the caviar all over the chairs and wall… tried to steal the bottle of vodka and ALMOST got busted!!”.
When we ask if Ali’s Persian heritage is any influence in his work Ali explains it’s mostly the looks that let him get away with certain things: “. It does… but only in a good way. I know it’s hard to believe though bit when I was in the states no one even thought I would be Persian. I always got the question: You Brazilian?? Or Argentinian?? And when I tell people I’m Persian they always are very interested and have many questions to ask me. It’s weird… if I would say Iran many people would think and see it as the Middle East but if you say Persian, for some reason, a light bulb pops on and they go like “Ahhhhhhh Persian I see” hehe! One good thing about having dark hair and giving people the idea of “What is this dude’s heritage??” is I always get away with taking pics of things that you’re not allowed of (based on the situation) , by just having the looks! I think some other foreign photographers know what I’m talking about! Take good advantage of that situation! Cause some of the best pics that I’ve taken were those moments!”
And plans for the future? Ali remains humble: ” I don’t want to get no one’s hopes up, and especially not my own. All I can say is that I hope to become a recognized photographer one day, so I can help other ones out by giving them presentations and lectures. Share my experience/opinion/and my look through the camera with other ones. For all I can say is that my focus and primary objective in life is Photography and that’s how I want to keep it! “