We were first exposed to the abstract photography of one Bryzoid (né Bryan Alexander Lim) when OJ Law released his album Let’s Be Adult last year. The dark, haunting images juxtaposed with OJ’s twee indie pop songs make for a perfect contrast. His career inevitably blew up; his art can be seen in many a publication and he’s even delved into fashion with his sports-meets-street clothing line with BATE’s Ethan Curzon called OBSCR. JUICE caught up with Bryan to talk about his various ventures, the social currency of social networking, and his thoughts on ‘influencers’.
You’re a bit of an athlete; you enjoy football and running, you’ve even managed to make it part of – as it were – the Bryzoid lifestyle. Is this another extension of yourself other than photography that you’re exploring?
I really enjoy football and running because it allows me to gain perspective of life, it helps me creatively and I generally enjoy the lifestyle. It’s definitely a healthy extension to my photography because it helps me to be a storyteller and to create content. Being exposed to different cultures and diversity made me understand the duty to elevate the community through various platforms. With a crew of passionate individuals, we want to explore something we really enjoy doing. We created an online football publication called @1972FC with the objective of being storytellers of the football culture in Malaysia. For running, we started a run crew called @webethirsty made out of common creative minds who enjoy the lifestyle.
How did you come to start OBSCR with Ethan Curzon? What was the motivation?
I just got back from the UK after a year, and Ethan told me about his visionary dream on starting a streetwear label. At the same time, I had an idea of creating a sports brand. So, we’re like, “Why not, let’s combine streetwear with sports?” When you believe and have faith in your idea, that is the motivation for you to pursue it with a purpose.
How do you think your athletic fashion wear compares with other local streetwear brands?
We are a creative active movement merging sports and street elements into an entity. The concept and direction we have are unique and obscure. We focus on the importance of storytelling through our garments because we want to connect and give people a purpose to stay inspired. The aesthetic of our garments is amplified through the functionality and detailing.
Can you talk a bit about Kitchen Life – the culinary YouTube channel you co-host with Sufiz (chef/co-owner of Kulcats Bario)? What prompted you to do this?
Sufiz and I met when we co-hosted a travel program for 8TV called FourByFour. We were away travelling for 45 days together and when we got back we continued the bromance – that was when we realised we had good chemistry together and [we] decided to start a cooking show called #KITCHENLIFE on YouTube. We are best known for our witty and cheeky personality, and we want to express our creativity through cooking. In every episode, Sufiz will guide me on making a simple yet delicious dish from the comfort of your home.
How collaborative was the process of creating the images for OJ Law’s Let’s Be Adult album?
I felt like I was Heath Ledger locked in a room to portray the character of Joker. I would be in my room the entire day, and have the whole album on repeat. The collaborative process was one of the smoothest I’ve ever experienced. I would ask OJ for the lyrics of the songs, and the message behind them. It was a huge help in the creative process in creating the images once I’ve understood the mood, the emotions, and the sentiments.
Your Instagram posts are rife with positive, almost essay-like words of encouragement for your followers. Why did you feel the need to impart such words to people?
If you live an extraordinary life, it is your duty to share your stories with the world. I rediscovered myself a year ago and made my resolution for 2016 to be a genuine storyteller both visually and [through] words. Photography has the power to communicate to a person regardless of education level, reading skills, or social status and such. By using words, it has the power to change our lives. They leverage on our perspective and mood. At times it brings comfort to people’s heart. That is how I feel about using these two mediums to inspire and motivate the community.
Since becoming known for fine art photography, do you think the niche market has gotten more traction? Or do you think photographers are still more focussed on streetwear portraiture and top-down food shots?
At one point, fine art photography has gotten a lot of attention but recently it has deteriorated. It’s not an easy silo to sustain because it requires a lot of thought and preparation before the shoot. I would say majority of the photographers are heavily influenced by street photography culture. It is a nice and enjoyable process and it’s less hassle as compared to fine art/surrealism photography.
Do you think you may venture away from fine art photography to challenge yourself?
Yes, without a doubt. Progression is impossible without change, and those who can’t change their mind, can’t change anything. I have ventured into other form(s) of creativity in and out of photography to challenge myself.
Do you think you would have been this widely noted or recognisable without the aid of social media?
Everything has gone digital in today’s generation, so if you snooze, you lose. Social media has definitely elevated me to a certain degree in my career because of its versatility, the immediate two-way communication, and the fact that it can reach out to a maximum [amount of] people. That being said, traditional media is also important because it increases your overall status and credibility.
What do you think about people who, unlike you, have no specific talent, yet they can amass a strong online following and become dubbed as an ‘influencer’?
I gotta give credit to them because they have used social media to its full potential to capture their target audience. I used to think it’s a nuisance but at the end of the day, it’s how you persuade your audience regardless of the content.
So far, what has been your favourite project that you have been involved in—photography or otherwise?
Every project that I’ve been involved in has a unique experience. My favourite project would be the next thing I’m working on.