The front man for AFI, Blaqk Audio, XTRMST and Dreamcar; Davey Havok has forged a prolific career across unimaginably diverse stages. He has released over 16 records, played the role of St. Jimmy on the Broadway production of American Idiot, published two books (Pop Kids and Love Fast Los Angeles), co-hosted SiriusXM’s Volume West and modeled for world-famous brands and magazines. Born in New York and currently residing in Southern California, Havok has a near-unmatched talent for innovation, activity and pushing boundaries far beyond the expected, so his entry to the ascendant world of tokenized art should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention.
Nedda Afsari (also known as Muted Fawn) is an Iranian photographer and creative director based in Los Angeles, and explores themes of power and liberation through her distinctively provocative and erotic captures. Her work was featured in Playboy Magazine, who described her unmistakable style as a celebrating “the space between fetish and fragility”. Her work was featured on St. Vincent’s Masseduction album, which would go on to win the Grammy Award for best recording package in 2019. Unmuted, her debut book, was released in February 2020 and features her most notable work from between 2014 and 2019.
During the lockdowns of 2020, Davey and Nedda collaborated on a photography series aptly titled “A Strange Year” – a vehicle for the pair to express their creativity while sold-out rock concerts and bustling art galleries were shuttered, with Davey modelling and Nedda behind the lens. The outcome of three shoots with very different styles and approaches, they are now publishing this series as tokenized artworks for the first time, only on Ephimera. The genesis in this tokenized series “A Strange Year: Day 293” is now live on the marketplace, check it out now!
In anticipation of this drop we had the amazing opportunity to ask Nedda and Davey how they came to work together, what inspired the series and how it provided a creative outlet in a chaotic time.
Ephimera: Tell us about this collaboration. How did it come together?
Nedda: Dave and I often ran into each other in the Los Angeles music scene. We’d always say hello and were friendly. I admired him as an artist and activist and always wanted to work with him in some capacity. I reached out to him before the pandemic hit to take some portraits and since then we’ve been collaborating on images.
Davey: Nedda and I met in the shadowy clubs of Los Angeles. Upon discovering her gorgeous photos, sensing a shared aesthetic and artistic influences, I knew we must shoot together. Shortly before the pandemic, with the excuse of a fresh haircut and an insatiable need to feel pretty, I joined her in her downtown studio. With a quickness, Nedda captured me in a way that few can, or have. The photos from that night, capturing several of my many sides, are some of the best ever taken of me.
Ephimera: What’s the concept behind “A Strange Year”?
Nedda: When quarantine hit, we had to come up with different ways to express ourselves in isolation. Dave approached me with the idea of documenting him in his personal space, untethered. Meaning, Dave in his unkempt environment.
Davey: After having first shot with Nedda, I longed to get back in front of her lens. Before I could, the pandemic hit, and without safe beautification options, I fell into disarray. My hair went uncut for months. My mustache grew serpentine and obscene. Needless to say, I needed documentation. Thankfully, Nedda was ready for the sordid task. Amidst the quiescence of my home, she captured me at, what traditionally would be construed as, my most masculine. What I call my “70’s porn coke dealer moment” felt too sensational for the archives. The photos were just too alluring. Thus, another excuse to work with Nedda was born. I asked if she’d consider doing a third shoot to document the post-porn look, suggesting we combine three starkly different shoots, capturing varied versions of myself, into a single show: A Strange Year.
Ephimera: How long has this project been in the works for? Is it on-going or will it have an end?
Davey: That particular strange year has begun and come to end. As far as I can see, this year is no less unique. I’d certainly be more than happy to stretch more time with Nedda.
Nedda: We see it having an end as everything is opening up again, being that we’re headed towards some state of “normalcy”, but I envision Dave and I working together in the future on other projects. I really enjoy creating with him.
Ephimera: “A Strange Year” feels like the perfect project to keep artists engaged in their work during this pandemic. Has this project challenged you creatively in ways that haven’t before?
Davey: I’ve said of 2020, “The only thing I’ve made this year is a mustache”. Yet Nedda helped me turn my phenotypic expression of inner chaos into gorgeous, evocative, contextually surreal imagery. Working with her mid-lockdown was the first spark of creativity I’d felt since the pandemic and the spark brought flame. Never before has a photo shoot inspired me in such regard – a testament to the artist.
Nedda: Quite so, most of my projects entail several people or more on set. This project was more intimate, in that, it was just the two of us at his home, an easy exchange of energy. I’m grateful we got to experiment and create some beautiful images during a dark time.
Ephimera: How do you see NFTs, photography, and the music industry working together in the future?
Davey: With the current state of social media and music sharing both photography and music has been emotionally and commercially devalued through over-saturation and unlimited accessibility. Thereby, these art forms are often taken for granted, diminished or devalued. NFTs provides a cool, modern way to showcase, elevate and reposition both music and photography to be appraised with worth, thus giving the artists the inspiration to grow and further create.
Nedda: NFTs are still a relatively new concept for many and myself. I believe that NFTs will gain more popularity as we build a greater understanding on the subject. For photographers, artists and musicians, NFTs offer more control and the ability for the proceeds to go directly to the artist, which is very exciting.