For this issue’s cover story, photographer Harry Gould Harvey IV followed Ratking around NYC for a few long days and late nights. Here, he reflects on drinking 40s on rooftops and bonding with Hak and Wiki over noise-punk.
Harry Gould Harvey IV: Hak and Wiki, Ratking's two MCs, both grew up in New York. Being a young person in the city, you’re always running around at night and there’s so many colors and lights. It’s pretty, but without forcibly being pretty. That directly influenced the aesthetic of the photos. I took video on this old, ’90s VHS camera, a Sony VX1000. I went to Union Square and got the camera from some random skate rat kid. He let me borrow it, and at the end of the shoot, I bought it from him because I liked it so much. I wanted to create a conversation between surveillance-looking video stills, posed 35mm shots and medium format stuff, which has a more polished look. I was drawing from Ratking’s album, So It Goes—it has this mixture of really raw sounds and high-quality production. I really wanted to go for something like that.
For the first few days, I actually didn’t do that much shooting, just to get them used to me being around constantly. The first night we ended up going back to their studio, and they played me the new record and jammed a little. We stayed out and drank and got 40s—they’re really into these obscure 40s that most bodegas don’t have—and hung out in their studio until 5AM. On the way back, Wiki and Hak got into a little bit of a spat and I kind of took a step back, so that night I ended up sleeping in my car. It’s kind of all a blur.
One of my favorite shots is them up on this raised metal walkway that goes around the soccer field at Pier 40. We went over there at like 2AM and the New York skyline was right behind them. It’s a spot where they always go and hang out because Wiki grew up on the Upper West Side. Later, we went over to Harlem and we spent an hour or two hanging out on Hak’s roof. The sun was just beating down on us and we were hanging out, drinking. I think I made photographs that feel like genuine experiences with them.
I listen to abrasive punk and play in punk bands, and Ratking actually draws influence from a lot of noise bands. I think that allowed us to relate on a different level. Hak was talking about seeing Drop Dead, which is this somewhat legendary punk band from Rhode Island that’s been around since the ’80s. Wiki has a Germs tattoo. They get punk and that whole ideology. They have a grasp on so many different genres of culture and art, and because they listen to hip-hop and drink 40s you can say, “Oh, this is the kind of kids they are.” But then they throw you for a loop.