For our first Dream Team of the new year, our friends Taku Iwama (photographer) and Rebecca Tollseram (videographer) paired up on a journey roadtripping around the island of Bali, Indonesia. Capturing local life and the everyday essence of Bali, Indonesia, they drew inspiration from the work-life balance that is so important and prevalent in Balinese culture. The photographs and video that they created were exhibited alongside our Tokyo Pop Up in November last year, and they tell a story about Bali - nicknamed the Island of Gods, and SUKU's heartland. This is Bali's answer to the sweet life - La Dolce Vita the Balinese way.
Slow mornings or long nights?
T: Definitely long nights, since it's always difficult for me to wake up in the morning, (haha) - like right now its 1am, and I’m doing this interview.
R: Slow Dawn, haha!
Is this the first time you've travelled to Bali? Can you tell us a little bit about what you expected to find and how that differed to what the trip was actually like?
T: It’s actually not my first time in Bali, I’ve always been travelling to Bali whenever I've had the chance to. One thing that I’ve always thought about Bali is that I can just chill and relax here, but in reality it’s getting more and more crowded and hectic. The weird part is, I always still wanna come back to Bali and just chill. Well, I guess that’s what makes Bali so special.
R: I used to go to Bali a lot, because I was obsessed with surfing at the time. Bali has definitely changed a lot compared to a few years ago, especially in the Canggu area it’s become more crowded. It’s not too bad because it’s easier to meet people and friends there. I started to explore more of Bali and realised there’s so many places to go, and things to do.
Can you tell us about the creative process of developing these beautiful images in Bali for us?
T: I just wanted everything to be natural this time, not like a ‘photoshoot’, if you get what I mean. I tried to incorporate documentary-esque street photography and portraits, which are two things that I enjoy the most, into this project. And it totally made my trip to Bali a lot more different than usual. Like when I'm riding a bike normally I would just pass through without actually observing much about the surroundings, but this time it actually made me slow down a lot more, and try to observe everything and everyone around me. It’s really beautiful.
R: Everything just came naturally, it's pretty casual, it’s not planned - so I basically just shoot what I see, and the people we met from the trip with my old video camera. It’s kind of like a video documenting the trip from my eyes, and also similar to a home movie from a vacation back in the days.
How do you choose someone to be a subject in your works? Do you normally photograph people in the way you have in this series?
T: For this project I kept it very natural, all the people were someone that I had randomly bumped into during my trip. It happened when I was buying some coconut, ice cream, or when I was asking a local the way to Amed. I have photographed people this way before but it’s my first time to actually ask them to put on something! Haha, it’s tricky but also super fun as I got to have more of a conversation with them.
Bali is known to be a spiritual place for locals, what is the spirit of Bali you saw and felt on your trip?
T: One thing that stood out after having some conversations with the locals was for sure the work-life balance that they have. To them, religion, family and life in general are super important and I think I can learn a lot from that.
R: The locals in Bali are very friendly and nice, I really like the way they live peacefully, and how they always gather for a ceremony like a huge family.
You met Mar on your travel through Bali, what drew you to each other and how did the relationship manifest?
T: Shout out to Mar, he’s like what 18 or 19? And he’s already doing all these cool things like the paintings in the photos, and he also takes really good photos. So I met Mar when I was at a party, it just so happened that I was looking for a model for a shoot and I thought he looked cool. Through the shoot we got to know about each other more, and we actually had a lot in common in terms of photography, fashion and music. So this trip I bumped into him again at a coffee shop and we were just catching up and I was like 'Yo Mar I saw the paintings that you did recently, let’s take some photos of you wearing Suku Home with your paintings'... and it turned out lovely.
Our current collection is about finding beauty and joy in small moments in our lives, in what ways did you see this for the people you met while on your road trip?
T: I feel that a lot of the locals here get really excited and genuinely happy when I asked if I could take a photo of them. It’s so cute, like the lady with the coconut - her friends were cheering for her at the back and laughing about it when I was taking a portrait of her. Everyone was just having a good time.
R: We went into a small village in Amed, where they plant their own food and build their own houses, the kids seemed like they are always having so much fun. I just happened to bump into some kids and they decided to play dress up when they saw some SUKU clothing on the bike, they are so pure and full of happiness.
I just happened to bump into some kids and they decided to play dress up when they saw some SUKU clothing on the bike, they are so pure and full of happiness.
What are the three items every person needs to take with them to Bali?
T: Camera with some films, vitamins and some extra socks.
R: Camera with films, earphones for travels and maybe a surfboard.
What are the three things every person should do or take away with them from Bali?
T: Three pairs of SWALLOW slippers!
R:I like the orange Swallow slippers, I've been seeing
the locals rockin it... I wonder where do they get those?
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
T: I just finished a project with Potato Head that is about the youth, art and sustainability - and Mar was also there to shoot of the B roll! And currently I’m fully focused on this new space that I’m building in Malaysia which is called Sunday Morning Studio. It’s a combination of a coffee shop and a film lab. It’s gonna be pretty cool.
R: I just got a super 8 camera, can’t wait to use it and create more! Also constantly working on my mind, soul and person.
If you could eat one meal again from the trip, what would it be and why?
T: I discovered this warung called Mie Ayam Bandung Chinese Food. It’s so good and I literally went there 5 times a week. I’m half Chinese and half Japanese, noodles are in my blood haha.
R: Gado gado is so good!
Photos by Taku Iwama
Video by Rebecca Toolseram
Taken on their road trip in Bali.