Huddy Pays Homage to Bowie

Huddy Pays Homage to Bowie

Twenty years ago, Markus Klinko photographed David Bowie for the late rock legend's 2002 album, Heathen, imagining him as different characters across hundreds of dramatic portraits. At the time, Bowie described the release as "deeply questioning," which was reflected through Klinko's lens: in one shot, Bowie walks a massive wolf and in another he cradles a newborn baby — strange Bowie twists, given the stylized, high-gloss treatment that Klinko became famous for in the early 2000s (he also shot Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi and Beyoncé'sDangerously in Love).

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Now, Klinko is looking at the next generation of music — and celebrating two decades since his Bowie collaboration — by tapping into TikTok's breakout star Huddy. Fresh off the release of his 2021 debut album, Teenage Heartbreak, Huddy has been evolving what it means to embrace rock for the internet age, between songs like "America's Sweetheart" and "21st Century Vampire." To Klinko, Huddy "has true rock star charisma," and amplified that in a special shoot paying tribute to the Starman himself (glitter, jewels and a smokey eye, included).

This shoot is David Bowie-inspired. In what ways are you inspired by the late rock legend?

Huddy: I love seeing the influence he had on other people's lives. He's an iconic person that I see people dressed up as every Halloween. The impact that he had through music, through photos and through the way he carried himself is inspiring to me.

In what ways do you strive to challenge the conventions of rock music, in the way Bowie once did?

Huddy: I just want to inspire people with my music the same way that people were inspired by Bowie during his era. I want people to listen to my music and have it inspire them in a different way than other rock artists. I want to unlock another part of their brains and open up their imaginations to all the possibilities, and paint a visual picture the same way that reading a book does.

"You can't deny the face of a rock star when you see one." –Huddy

What was it like working with such an iconic photographer like Markus Klinko? Did you learn anything from being on set with him?

Huddy: I learned that even when there are few shots, each shot is important. Each angle is important. Each side of your face is important. Each expression is important. I learned that no matter what age you are, rock can make you feel like a kid again. He said that he was inspired by my music and my aesthetic, and that you can't deny the face of a rock star when you see one. That stuck with me.

How do you personally connect to glam rock style?

Huddy: I connect with the importance of and attention to detail. I love the art-like, expressive visuals that are a large part of glam rock. That is something that inspires lots of people's music videos today, and their stages and sets when they perform. It's something that really stands out.

What inspires you about Huddy and how was it working with him on set?

Markus Klinko: Huddy impressed me. He has true rock star charisma, which goes way beyond just great looks. He is a passionate artist, who takes his craft extremely seriously, and is in it for the long run. I think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his career.

Having shot so many music iconics, including David Bowie, how do you think music culture has changed over the years?

Markus Klinko: I started working with labels a lot in the early 2000s. At that time, there was really just one way for a music artist to release their work: by working with the recording companies. For me as a photographer, that meant to approach a lot of these bigger album shoots almost like a major ad campaign. I loved that. Today, artists must mark themselves first and foremost, which is why the importance of social media is dominant. The label’s roles have changed therefore. But I think we are starting to see a comeback of high-end photography, as people are getting bored with the Instagram type of visuals. Brands and labels are looking again for a more substantial way to work with music artists.

"[Huddy] has true rock star charisma, which goes way beyond just great looks." –Markus Klinko

How did you decide to connect the dots between David Bowie and Huddy?

Markus Klinko: Having worked with Bowie on his last big production shoot for the cover of Heathen, and seeing the enormous success of that work in the art gallery world, I was interested to find a new, current artist to collaborate with, as an homage to Bowie’s 75th birthday, as well as my own 20 years anniversary of working with Bowie. I felt that Huddy had all the right aspects for doing this glam rock tribute. I didn’t want to do a straight Bowie reference, more so a glam rock focus. I was thinking of Brian Ferry as well, for example.

I used projected red light stripes for the glitter close up shots, which I felt were a great way to update and modernize the concepts seen in typical glam rock photos from that time. But I couldn’t resist getting inspiration from an old image of Bowie in the back of a chauffeured limousine, with paparazzi chasing him. I had an old Rolls Royce sent to set and re-interpreted that idea to suit Huddy. I had so much fun with it.

What’s your favorite memory of working with David Bowie?

Markus Klinko: There were many, but I love to remember the day he came to my Soho studio while I was doing this big sexy GQ shoot with half naked models running around the set, with nothing but towels around them. David looked around, smiled and said this reminded him of the '70s. Then he added, "Not that I can remember anything from the 70s."

Photography: Markus Klinko
Styling: Marta Del Rio
Hair: Johnny Stuntz
Makeup: Bex Marie
Production: Jonathan Heit