Dreaming of LA with DJ and Photographer Myles Hendrik

There are LA legends, and then there’s Myles Hendrik. As the story goes, he landed in Los Angeles some ten years ago and found himself DJ-ing a private party for Hugh Hefner by the end of the week. His rapid rise through the grit and glamour of the party scene is the kind of serendipitous, star-studded story that feels like a love letter to the city itself, and the feeling is definitely mutual. A decade later, he has solidified his spot as Hollywood’s most sought-after DJ, counting Rihanna, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie, Kendrick Lamar and Mick Jagger among his devoted following, and bringing his addictive signature blend of high-octane hip hop, rock, house, and underground cuts to festival circuits, fashion shows, and countless after parties. He is internationally recognized for his ability to keep people vibing, imbibing, and dancing until the sun comes up, as well as transform any space, no matter the size, into the house party of your wildest teenage dreams.

In a town where people wear the slashes in their job titles like pageant queens wearing sashes, there is a hushed reverence for the artists who can shape-shift seamlessly between creative mediums. Behind the flashing lights and throbbing bass of his day job, Myles is also a passionate and prolific poet and photographer, documenting the surreal and sublime street culture beneath the city’s shiny veneer through  visceral words and images. Sharp and surprising, his spontaneous and intimate photos reveal a discerning eye and a deeply rooted appreciation for the dizzying and occasionally debauched energy of the city of angels and its diverse inhabitants. Fresh off the heels of his first solo exhibition, fittingly titled “Dreams of LA,” we chat with the multi-faceted modern day renaissance man about what he loves most about LA, how poetry influences his photography, and why the secret to a good party is to “never be predictable.”

See his vibrant visual homages to Los Angeles for yourself at Photo LA February 1st through February 4th at 3021 Airport Ave, Santa Monica, CA. Snag your tickets here.

I have loved Myles Hendrik’s pictures for a very long time. A camera has been at the end of his wrist since the day I met him. It’s part of his person. Walking down the street with him, his eyes are always scanning for the hole in the paper maché, the extra vision. Los Angeles: so beautiful, broken, hopeful, romantic, cheap and foul, sarcastic, full of ass, the fast, and the gone. It’s a narcotic – a blonde on blonde/blind leading the blind – cocktail that hisses. While the heavenly palms scratch the sky, all the colors of cake, Myles points his camera and captures the coin drop. He sees us here, and he sees this place in us. – Alison Mosshart, The Kills

Q&A

Live FAST: Hi Myles! What drew you to DJ’ing and made you fall in love with that world? 

Myles Hendrik: I grew up playing a variety of instruments, which led to being in a number of bands, so music has always been part of my DNA. A number of years ago, a friend asked me to DJ a house party. That party turned in to another one, and another one, and then eventually to ones where I got paid a few bucks. From there it snowballed into an actual profession. I just love music: creating it, performing it, playing it, listening to it. DJ’ing just became another natural form of expression for me. To create a soundscape with songs, to shift moods, move people both in a physical and emotional way is pretty awesome. In effect, you’re telling a story, creating a mood, a journey for someone’s entire night.

LF: Your playlists are notoriously high energy and always inspire a good time. Can you share some of your secrets to keeping people dancing and vibing all night long?

MH: Keep things interesting and keep things moving. Again, it’s a journey people want…they want the unexpected, they want surprises, and they want to dance. Never be predictable.

LF: You’re the go-to DJ for the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Rihanna, and more, and you’ve played everything from fashion shows to award ceremonies to countless after parties. How do you approach each event from a creative standpoint?

MH: They all require a slightly different hand. Fashion show music is more production: you’re trying to create a sonic landscape that acts as a bed that the collection can float over. With award parties, you’re trying to create an environment where everyone ends up forgetting about their need to work the room and lets loose – unabashed and free. Clubs are another matter all together: it’s like a temple and people have come to worship. I’m there to supply the soul food.

LF: Who or what inspires you? What keeps you motivated?

MH: Talented friends who are consistently pushing boundaries, any creative form of expression, great literature, traveling, seeing all the boundless new horizons, this home of mine in Los Angeles. I’m constantly moving. I can’t really ever sit completely still. There’s always something inside of me, innately pushing me to do something: create a song, write a poem, take a photo. It’s always there.

LF: You’re currently in the studio working on writing and producing your own music. Can you tell us a little bit about that transition?

MH: I made music before I ever got behind the turntables. But there’s a definite symbiosis between the two. DJ’ing gives you a direct portal into what moves people. You get to see how people react to certain elements, whether it’s groove, melody, tempo, space, or the lyrical connection.

LF: You’re a prolific photographer, and you’ve captured iconic images of Los Angeles over the years. You had your first solo photography exhibit at Maxfield last year. Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the show.

MH: Los Angeles has been my home for the past 14 years. It’s such a misrepresented and wildly misunderstood city, so often distilled and trivialized by the visiting herds into a miniature Hollywood sign fridge magnet or a Baywatch tee. The wonderful cultural diversity, the intricately woven beauty that ricochets like mad cannons deep in the fault lines is passed over. But I see it, and I keep searching for it, and it’s inspired my work in a way that few other places I’ve visited have. So when it came time to decide on a direction for the show, the choice was a no-brainer. I knew it had to be a collection of work shot only here, only in Los Angeles, and  only shot within a single year – 2017. Each of the photos in the show are  love poems about how I see the city and, in many ways, how the city sees me.

LF: Do you have a creative process or philosophy? 

MH: Everything creatively that’s happened in my life has happened intuitively rather than being consciously thought out. I started writing poems as a way to release the clutter of sights and sounds in my head. That turned into lyric writing, and then when a friend needed a singer for a band it evolved into that. DJ’ing followed naturally. Taking photos predates all of this – as a very young teen, my dad gave me a pocket Olympus 35mm in a valiant, but failed attempt, to have me focus less time on smashing the crap out of my drum kit. I immediately fell in love with taking photos.

As a kid, I was always wanting to point out things I noticed to my family and friends – things most people would just look past, but intrigued me – so having a camera in my hand allowed me to capture those moments without driving everyone crazy. Even at a young age I was always looking for the lines beyond the surface, the the invisible prairies. I’m trying to condense a layered narrative into a single image. That’s what I’m always looking for, the poem within.

LF: What do you like most about LA? 

MH: Los Angeles: loud, shiny and seemingly unapologetic, is a city that, more often than not, people only ever see at face value. They miss the sheer cultural weight, the wonderful diversity that weaves the beauty of this place and lies deep between the fault lines. The obtuseness and the true fabric is always passed by. But I see it, I search for it, and it’s inspired my work in a way that few other places I’ve visited have. To me, it’s a place where the dream is always alive, always moving, and where the waves, the skies, and canyons wind forever with romance and hope and all the colors of Disneyland. A million poems, screaming to be written.

LF: Your work takes you to incredible locations around the world. What’s your favorite place that you’ve visited? Has traveling so much taught you anything about yourself?

MH: I really believe that in order to fully grow, to learn, to evolve, you need to – as often as possible – get out of your bubble and travel. See different places, hear different languages, feel different rhythms, taste different smells. Without this, your meter is just stuck in the same groove. I need constant stimulation and I’ve always been desirous of seeing as much as I possibly can, hence being a voracious traveler. The pure inspiration! It’s endless and I‘ll take it as often as I can get my hands on it.

I love the Caribbean, South East Asia, Eastern Europe…but Mexico, Jamaica, and Japan are standouts for me. Traveling has taught me that there’s so much to learn and so much to absorb. Why waste any time not seeing as much as you can?

LF: What advice would you give to your younger self?

MH: Trust and believe. It’s your truth, it’s your reality. Every single thought you think can create the exact world you want. So stick to the positive ones and give the others a pass. It’s always your choice. Life is supposed to be miraculous. Never doubt it.

LF: How fast do you live?

MH: Faster than I often know how to keep up with. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

L’Agent Goodies…