Above: Neelam photographing Hinds, captured by CJ Harvey
All other photography: Neelam Khan Vela
Raised in Barcelona, Neelam Khan Vela captures moments of rebellion and pure joy on film. She moved to London to study photojournalism at London College of Communication (UAL,) where she developed passion and prowess for music photography, taking snapshots into the lives of some of your favourite bands. Hinds, Iggy Pop and HMLTD are on that list, as well as Twin Peaks, Her’s and The Orielles. Now, she resides in Glasgow.
Neelam urges you to quit romancing about the past and open your eyes to what’s going on right now. Grains of subculture are all around. Wherever she goes, she finds the discreet little mole holes that open up into bounteous lands of good times, real heart and honest people.
Cool Brother shoots fifty quick-fire questions her way.
Who haven’t you met?
Do you play any instruments?
No, but I would love to play the drums.
Favourite band to shoot?
Live, Hinds – and for portraits, Confidence Man.
House parties or festivals?
Who’s your favourite Orielle?
I couldn't possibly pick one, but I must say Sid and I have this special bond over fudge and Kinder Buenos. The other two don't participate, because they're vegan.
Give us some good words of wisdom.
If you're not having fun then just leave.
What inspires you the most?
How old were you when you first picked up a camera?
I can't remember – I've always had a camera in my hand.
Have you kept any of your photos you took when you were young?
Yes! Actually, I recently found some film photos I took when I was about seven or eight that I love.
What’s your go-to pose when the camera’s on you?
I normally just stand there.
If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
My turquoise skirt suit – I call it the ‘power suit.’
What’s the story behind your Leave Britney Alone jacket?
I bought the pink blazer in a charity shop for 99p and soon I realised I probably wasn't gonna wear it, so I thought I had to paint something on the back to make it cooler – and what better than 'Leave Britney Alone’!?
Can I have it?
Make your own!
Who’s your best friend?
Ramen or Pot Noodle?
I prefer the instant ramen Pot Noodle stuff than actual real ramen, but the Pot Noodle brand is awful.
Buckfast or cerveza?
What makes Glasgow’s music scene unique?
Best venue in Barcelona?
What’s a nickname you’ve always wanted that never caught on?
For a while, when I was eleven, I wanted my name spelled ‘Nylam.' But thank God it never caught on.
What time do you usually wake up?
Between 10am and 11am.
What’s the first thing you do?
Check my phone.
Camera of choice?
A point-and-shoot Minolta I found at a charity shop. I also love shooting with Fujifilm Instax.
Film or digital?
I think I like both equally, but I wish I could afford to shoot more film.
Black and white or colour?
Tips for getting to the front of a busy show?
Just push your way through, trying to be as polite as possible. You'll get bad looks, but it's worth it.
Describe your encounter with Jarvis Cocker.
The first one was awkward as fuck! I was seventeen and I was almost crying. I wrote him a letter, but never managed to actually gave it to him. I found it recently and I was mortified, so thank God I didn't. The second one was funny. It was at Rough Trade. I knew I wouldn't have more than a few minutes until he escaped, so I tried to milk it as much as possible. I took his portrait, got a picture with him and got him to sign my copy of his book in about four minutes. I was on a mission! The third one was my favourite. I bumped into him at Primavera last year. I had a lovely quick chat and took another portrait of him.
Did you whisper sweet nothings or keep it casual, baby?
Keep it casual, always.
Who’s the most inspiring person you’ve ever met?
Do you have any siblings?
An older brother and an older sister.
How many berets do you own, dammit?
Now, five. I used to have more, but I gave a couple away that I never wore a few months ago and I lost my favourite black one!
Pizza or pink, one has to go. Which gets the boot?
This is the hardest question anyone has ever asked me. I guess pizza would have to go.
Best song for Summer?
‘You Make Me Wanna Die’ by The Shivas.
Santa’s Little Helper or Gary The Snail?
Santa's Little Helper.
What do your family think about what you do?
My mum totally loves it, but I don't think the rest fully get it.
Do you know any jokes?
I've known a couple of good ones through my life, but I always forget them.
Describe your coolest dance move.
I love that one when you're dancing with someone and you hold hands and you both put one arm behind the head so the other one ends up in your partner's shoulder, and then you let go ’til your hands reach again… You know that one?
Hmm, I'm not so sure... Do you wanna give it a name?
I'm sure it must already have a name, but let's call it The Head Click.
What word do you use too much?
Midnight snack of choice?
Tumblr or Instagram, which do you prefer?
What’s the best thing about being a music photographer?
Touring and meeting amazing people all around the world.
Have you got any tips for people wanting to follow in your foot steps?
Work hard and be persistent.
Here’s your chance to tell a mate you love them, who are you gonna pick?
Ade te quiero!
What band should we all be listening to right now?
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