Hey, You’re Cool! Ciesay of Places + Faces
Places + Faces could be anything and everything. It could be an airline.
Places + Faces creator Ciesay may not be a household name yet, but give him some time. The London native and his friend Soulz grew what was originally a Tumblr page into a phenom brand encompassing film photography, fashion and design. Ciesay is also leading Europe’s DIY scene as a DJ under the moniker Aux God and the Places + Faces parties are taking over London, Poland and Tokyo. We talked to the 24 year old about the London creative scene, his chance trip to New York that solidified the brand, and how he survives off Uber naps.
What’s the London creative scene like?
It’s really authentic. For example, America has their different scenes. Like the Atlanta scene, the L.A. scene and the New York scene, whereas London is more of the areas. East London is the hipster and party area. West London is where people go for vintage clothes and shopping. South London is where everyone says the best music comes from because artists like King Krule and Section Boyz come from there. But everyone comes to East London, that’s like the melting pot of London.
Where are you from?
I’m from South London.
How did you and your partner come up with the idea of Places + Faces and put it into fruition?
I actually started it when I was in New York. I came there in 2013. I didn’t even know anyone, I just had a camera, so I used to finesse my way into all of these events. I was only 20 at the time. We look at age differently, swapping the month and day, so I was able to trick them into thinking I was 21 and used to sneak into a lot of events. [laughs]. It popping in New York that year. That’s when A$AP Ferg dropped “Shabba Ranks” and Big Sean dropped his second album Hall of Fame. There were just a bunch of random events going on. I remember there was this rap battle thing and I think Ice Cube was hosting. I managed to make my way backstage at all these places and started taking photos. Because I was from London people were always keen to let me take photos at these events because of my accent and stuff.
What brought you to New York that Summer?
No particular reason. My uncle, this guy who I met on Facebook, was like, “Yo, if you ever come to New York, you can come stay with me.” I literally booked my ticket the next day. It was supposed to be for two weeks and I ended up staying for three months.
Those are the best kind of stories. When you started taking pictures of celebrities, did you think you’d gain so much attention?
Not really, no. I used to hate photography, to be honest. I never thought I could be a photographer. I used to make videos, but photography was never in my plans. I went there because my editing software broke and I couldn’t edit videos. I was just like, “Let me fuck around and take pictures while I’m here, what else do I have to lose?” So then I take these pics and I send them to my friend in London, ‘cause like I said, I didn’t know shit about photography. He’d edit them and send them back to me. Then I was like, “Yo, I’m in New York and you’re in London, why don’t you take photos of events in London and put it on Tumblr or something?” Then he was like, “What should we call it” and I was like “Fuck it, it’s called Places + Faces.” That’s the first thing that came to my mind.
Do you remember the first camera that you shot on?
Back then I was using DSLR, I think it was like 500D. And I used this shitty Nikon L35AF camera. It was like the cheapest camera I could buy, it was like $10 and I think now it’s worth over $100. I just bought it off eBay.
What’re you using now to shoot?
Ooh, that’s a secret! I can’t give away too much.
You’ve thrown parties all over Europe and Asia. How do you choose a city to throw your parties?
We sell the merchandise, so based on the popularity of the clothes in the cities is how we come up with where we want to do a party. For example, Tokyo is one of our biggest consumers. It was my third time going to Tokyo for that party last year. I knew my fan base has been growing over the years, so when they pitched the idea of us throwing a party I was down to do it.
What do you ultimately want for P+F?
When we started, it was just a Tumblr, so it’s just been ideas. Every couple of months I’ll think to myself, “Okay, cool, I made the Tumblr, what’s next? Let me make a hoodie to promote the Tumblr page.” Then that became the merch line just because I wanted something new to wear and then everyone started loving it. But overall, Places + Faces… I’m not going to kid you, I can see whatever I want and then I’ll run with it. Some ideas might take a year or two, but I’ll eventually end up doing it. I want to focus on it being a print publication and then I also just launched my Sounds and Prints. I wouldn’t call it a label, but something that I can push my friends’ music and make original songs with my friends. Like not me rapping, but me on my DJ Khaled shit, getting all my friends together and making cool songs. It’s like anything and everything I could want it to be. Like one day it could be a radio show, one day it could be a modeling agency. I don’t want to limit myself or put myself in any boxes. It could be anything and everything. It could be an airline. [Laughs].
I’m pretty much you get what you see. I’m always creating. Everyone knows this in London, but I’m always sleeping in Ubers. I call them Uber Naps, cause I never sleep when I’m at home. The distance from the Uber to my house is my sleep time.