It’s almost a KL tradition by now; you haven’t been validated as a scenester until a ginger walks up into your personal space at a party, lifts up his intimidating portable softbox, and snaps a quick picture of you (in all your face’s goofily contorted glory). That man is Paulius Staniunas, and he’s responsible for capturing that minutia of a moment when you look somewhere in between euphoria and constipation… and yet all is amazing. You’d actually look forward to checking Facebook every hour hoping to see that photo online. While they are of differing disciplines, like Johnny McGeorge before him, Paul subverted the myth of looking photogenic on camera – that awkward, unrestraint moment of happiness is just as legitimate as a controlled, calculated expression, if not better.
As his nom de photographe, All is Amazing has become a KL nightlife institution and the vocabulary of many a party goer (“Is that All is Amazing?!”). We can’t imagine Paul by any other name, but as he had revealed to us, you might have known him by obvious names such as ‘Your Last Night Party’ or ‘Memories from Last Night’ had he not took 3 months to think it through. He needed something more “universal and memorable.” As he put it, “something that’d make people smile when they hear it.”
While the Lithuanian bloke is currently living up to his namesake in Malaysia, it hasn’t always been amazing back home (to quote him, “a country that 98% of the world haven’t heard of.”). While he was reluctant to divulge more – jokingly stating that not only creative freedom is restricted, but also juices in paper cups and reposing in the left side of the bed – we knew Lithuania only reached independence in 1990, there’s got to be more to it. Paul wasn’t feeling the vibe of his own country, metaphorically explaining to us rather humorously that Lithuania only invented the wheel in 2007, which was then rolled at a speed that got him wishing for more ‘santai’ pastures. Interpret that as you will, but one thing Paul made certain was this – it’s our entire fault that he stayed here; “There’s something about you amazing Malaysians that makes [creative Lithuanians] stay here.”
Paul, as it turned out, had been all over Asia for some time before he ended up in Kuala Lumpur. In continuing his studies in Business Information Management (surprisingly not arts related), he left Lithuania for Asia; first Indonesia before moving to China. It was during this time that his photography really took off. “Living among such vibrant cultures and creative environments, I just couldn’t resist not photographing my surrounding,” he told us. It was clear from talking to him that he had a strong, fetishistic affinity for Asia, but more on that later.
If you rummaged through Paul’s past résumé, you’d notice that he wasn’t always a party photographer. It was only during his time in Beijing that he gravitated towards the nightlife side of his trade. What started off as a personal photographic introduction to his new environment and culture became much more when it grew into a project called Exponights, done in conjunction with Shanghai World Expo 2010. The genesis of his modus operandi here, he shot night events there and uploaded them online. Before he knew it, he connected many people together (himself included) and his photos became something of an information source for nightlife happening during the expo.
With his MO established, Paul left Shanghai after his job was over and travelled for a while before stumbling upon Kuala Lumpur. Displaying his love for us again, he waxed lyrical about the locals here; “[Their] amazing charm, friendliness, and smiles fascinated me so much, that I really fell in love with [Kuala Lumpur].” You’d think that would have sealed the deal for him, but Paul credited party boy KO PI GO and The Deer Society as the last decision makers that had him moving to KL. Randomly stumbling upon KO PI’s photo set from the glory days of Daikanyama – The Deer Society’s The Love Boat night – he knew he had to get to know the country, the city, and their people better.
“And guess what? My intuition was right. It’s a damn amazing city, with incredibly creative and charming people,” exclaimed Paul, validating his instinct now that he’s lived in Kuala Lumpur for a few years.
Being born and raised here, we tend to not see the appeal of our own country and culture, so JUICE was curious to hear some outsider’s perspective – having had lived in other parts of Asia before, we wanted to know why Paul chose to reside here the longest.
“It’s you Malaysians, with your cute Yasmin Ahmad advertisements, never ending discussions about politics, friendly food stall smiles, crazy nightlife, bubbling China Town, damn talented people, crazy taxi drivers, Air Asia discounts, cheap fresh fruits, and super, super, super good friends I made here. Oh, did I mention picturesque landscapes and eternal summer?”
Crazy taxi drivers included? See what we meant by ‘fetishistic affinity’?