Coffeeklatch

creative chit-chat

Elisabeth Ouni

Journaliste & photographer

Journalist, music connoisseur, photographer, model and blogger. Elisabeth Ouni is queen of all trades, and therefore it’s difficult to position her in a specific creative field. She’s the woman behind ‘A Polaroid Story’, a unique blog project in which she captures well-known music artists on Polaroid film. Elisabeth is constantly on the go because of her work with Ostend as her hometown. "Ostend is a city with guts. It's a bit rock ‘n’ roll and has a raw edge to it, which I appreciate. I really feel at home here." Ouni is half Tunisian, half Belgian and her name means ‘the one who helps'. In her apartment overlooking the skyline of Ostend, we help ourselves with a nice cup of coffee and a flavoured piece of lemon cake. "I used to be a kitchen princess, but since I started out the blog, there’s no more time left for cooking."

 

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How come you choose Ostend as your home-base?

When I turned 15, I came here to attend boarding school. I feel at home in this city, I love the people and the mentality. I got familiar with the Ostend nightlife, so I know its less beautiful sides too. A lot of people don't know its musical connection. Think of Marvin Gaye, who has lived here for a while, and his manager who used to hang out with Gill Scot Heron. They all lived here in Ostend. After a long train ride I always say to myself: “Nothing beats the luxury of a daily horizon." Once you live by the sea, you wish for nothing else.

 

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You’re constantly on the road. How do you pass time?

I'm addicted to my iPhone, whether I’m taking a picture of the sky or spending my time tweeting. Usually I listen to new music and since I have a serious addiction to TV shows, I have my share of True Blood, Entourage, Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire while I’m on the train. I only watch TV shows on my return trip. Long journeys require getting up early. So along the way I usually take a nap, with a MCM (Mode Creation Munich) bag next to me. 


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Is MCM your latest addiction?

I have an obsession with this bag label since the day I met Om'Mas Keith and Taz Arnold from the Californian hip hop group Sa-Ra. These men always travelled with a complete MCM travel set and it was love at first sight. - With the MCM bags, of course! (laughs) I am quite a fan of the Cognac Visetos collection. It’s a lovely addiction! 

 

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Lots of travelling and enough time to sleep and dream. What are your dreams for the near future?

I would like to further explore video and directing. In the past I experimented with film, like the videos for Essentiel and The Ones To Watch, which I pulled off by using some of the technical skills that I had taught myself. Now I would like to gain more experience and professionalism as a video producer and implement this at Ouni Inc. and A Polaroid Story. So maybe more video, as well as a book and an exhibition, as an ending to A Polaroid Story. The blog must finish at some point. There is an end to every story. 

 

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So there won’t be any more Polaroid Stories for us to read? 

The end is nowhere in sight, but it will come eventually. I started out the blog with the naivety of a fan. With all that, I have no ambition to keep on running after artists. For 3 years in a row, this blog led me to many incredible places and people. A Polaroid Story describes the evolution of someone who meets famous artists, and reports it in detail. But I'm getting older and the astonishment of the star-eyed fan is disappearing. All good songs come to an end and I already have an idea in mind of how the end should ideally look like: A Polaroid Story in the shape of a book and a touring exhibition, starting in Ostend, then travelling on to London, Paris, Berlin, New York and Tokyo. Such an end would be awesome! 

 

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You’ve been blogging for 3 years now. How many Polaroids have you taken so far?

I’ve featured 50 artists, but there are still so many famous faces I still need to capture on film. I have loads of work to do before I can come out with an expo. My big dream is to have 99 Polaroids that are 100% satisfying. You should know I redo lots of photos. I’ll go back looking for an artist until I have the right capture. For the exhibition I want to magnify these 99 photos. 

 

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You are not the typical music journalist, as you mostly operate clandestinely behind the scenes, armed with your Polaroid camera. It’s also remarkable that your interviews go much deeper than what you read in other media.

My biggest strength lies in the underground factor. Because I work unofficially and I have a specific know-how, I can quickly infiltrate in someone's entourage. An unofficial approach has disadvantages, but the situations I end up with are far more interesting than the official 5 minutes of a music journalist. With all that, I prefer to be officially invited by labels that really understand my platform. In Belgium, certain music genres have not been sufficiently exposed and my blog is the most suitable medium to fill that need. I'm not a music journalist, I’m not a stupid fan either. My interviews often reach far and they’re personal.

 

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But in some cases you seek the help of others. 

Indeed, and I’m not always successful. For example Vorst Nationaal (music venue in Brussels) - I’ve tried it 3 times. Impossible to get in! And once inside, you're a headless chicken, cause it’s a maze. Once I got very close to Kanye West, but they threw me out. The same happened with Rick Ross at the Noxx. Thrown out! People love that shit. Fans like to read that. But at that time though, I didn’t think it was that great.  

 

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You come across so many famous people. What was your most spectacular interview?

Unexpectedly, I got 5 official minutes with Mark Ronson. It was stressful, I'm talkin' Ronson here! He’s been around for a while, from Duran Duran, Amy Winehouse to the new Gossip. Heavily talented man. I arrived to the appointment and sensed that he wasn’t keen on doing the interview. The man was hungry, so I told him: "Let's just take the Polaroid and get it over with." He was surprised by my brief response. I showed him the picture and he said: "We have to redo that." We took the picture again and he replied: "Can we do the interview after the show?" Miraculously, someone from his entourage came and grabbed me out of the audience after the show. And the interview took place in the lobby of his hotel. The conversation lasted well over an hour! Those are things you don’t go through as a journalist. It's a love-hate relationship between artists and journalists and thankfully I fall slightly outside of the box. For a Mark Ronson fan this was a great story to read. 

 

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And now you're done with telling Polaroid stories.

Mark Ronson told me literally: “You're really not that stupid. You're not a journalist, because you challenge me.” That was the biggest compliment ever! I want the blog to end in beauty. Video & art directing are the next steps. By then I'll be 30 years old and I’ll be having babies.(laughs)

 

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A Polaroid Story

Ouni Inc

 

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About Coffeeklatch

Coffeeklatch stands for ‘Slow journalism using a fast medium.’ Magali Elali and Bart Kiggen created the blog as a creative chitchat featuring creative entrepreneurs in their homes over coffee, including interesting people telling intriguing stories. It celebrates storytelling and creativity in all its forms, from fashion design to architecture. Read More

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Copyright © Coffeeklatch. All rights reserved. All Coffeeklatch original content and photographs are subject to copyright
and must not be reproduced without our express prior written permission.

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