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Interview with Courteney Frisby

Interview with Courteney Frisby

"I wanted to master this skill, so that when you look at my photos, you know they're mine."

Dalston Superstore is gearing up to celebrate 15 years this May, and what better way to commemorate this momentous occasion with Courteney Frisby‘s photography. Courteney  has captured the unique and vibrant energy of Dalston Superstore at countless killer club nights over the last few years, including Femmme Fraiche, Dolls vs Twinks & The Gay Agenda to name a few. We caught up with her to learn about the legend behind the lens, in the run up to her exhibition launch party this Thursday the 4th of April.
Hiya Courteney! We’re so thrilled to be adorning our walls with your iconic Superstore photography this April. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Heya! My name’s Courteney, I live in Hackney, East London. Coming from Peterborough, I knew that there was something bigger for me out there and always wanted to move to London to see the kind of person I would blossom into. Being raised by a single mother who worked in nightlife, I learned the value of independence and doing things on my own growing up. I really enjoy being in spaces with swirls of psychedelic colour; I thrive in chaotic and crazy environments. It has taught me a lot about myself.
How did you break into nightlife photography?
I started off going to illegal parties & worked for a party called Sticky Plastik. Wild and crazy times – going underneath the shutters of an abandoned bright house, dancing to tech house… I loved being amongst the essence of freedom in these spaces without any hierarchy involved. Fabric then reached out to me asking for an “underground photographer” to shoot their new residents of 2021, which was wild to me. I remember seeing Josh Caffe there, searching him up and being so captivated by his art. I then got my best mate Zine to message a bunch of people about work, one of them being Michelle Manetti. So true story, if Zine didn’t message her I don’t know where I would be today! Michelle wanted to hire me for Femmme Fraiche and two years later I’ve been there ever since! Because of Michelle I then got into other queer spaces and the rest was history. Sometimes I’ll go to big gigs and think how the hell did I get here? I was just a small underground photographer who was capturing the essence of the scene for fun and now doing it full time. It’s a beautiful full circle.
You have a keen ability to capture the unique and vibrant energy of a queer club night. How did you master this skill?
Hmm that’s a really good question. I used to do a lot of shoots for free. It felt like I was born to do this- I really wanted to shape my craft into the best thing possible. As a person I’m not hard on myself, but the artist side of me is. Even if a photograph looks sick, I question if I could have done better or why I chose that angle in particular. Till this day I have that voice in my head. I wanted to master this skill, so that when you look at my photos, you know it’s mine.
Ultimately, I want to take everyone on a trip with me, to see how I perceive the world. I think colours are a massive part of my style. I love finding colours that don’t work with one another in reality, but in these crazy, chaotic photos they do. I love pushing myself- what’s the point in life if you’re just coasting? I don’t just shoot the queer night scene, I love shooting for drum and bass, grime nights, afrobeat and jazz. I like swirling through everything just to see what is me and what isn’t me.
Superstore is celebrating 15 years this May! What’s your most treasured memory from The Mothership so far?
My first memory is actually one of my favs! when I stepped into Dalston Superstore after lockdown it was the first time I shot at FF. I was so surprised and shocked by everything that was going on but at the same time felt very comfortable and at home with the venue. Afterwards Michelle drove me to Adonis to meet my friends as the old Cause, which was like a second home to me at the time- being my local club. That will always be a core memory.
Then the 14th birthday last year… I was excited to see
Bored Lord but didn’t know what they looked like. I saw a really cool person next to the decks and asked them for a photo – half an hour went by before I saw they were on the decks and was like oh shit that’s Bored Lord !!! Was an amazing set and something magical about having three rooms open for Dalston Superstore- the more queers the better!

So far, what’s your proudest achievement as a rave photographer?
Definitely shooting for Boiler Room and Mixmag. Seeing my photo as a thumbnail and shooting for the iconic Nia Archives at the Boiler room HQ will always go down as the greatest. It felt like it was my next step to take as a photographer. I would also say when Reece Spooner gave me the chance to shoot Jagermeister for Resident Advisor. It was cool to push my limits as a photographer and being a part of a big project was amazing.
This year having an exhibition at Dalston Superstore is the proudest achievement. So funny as when I was shooting for Dolls vs Twinks last month I was looking at the wall and asking myself (i talk to myself a lot) when it’ll be my turn to have photos on the wall… I was thinking a couple more years, but then I got the email the following week offering me this exciting opportunity! The universe is always funny like that.

What are you excited for in 2024?
I am dying to get to Field Maneuvers already. It’s my favourite festival ever – it feels like the whole of London is just on a campsite listening to the best music in the UK, making lots of friends and having beautiful conversations. I get my best photos from that whole weekend. Also excited to go Love International with all my mates. We were planning to go and then Michelle said that Femmme Fraiche had a stage there, so it fell into plan beautifully. It’s so nice to see that Femmme Fraiche is finally getting the recognition of being put on stages like Gala and Love international. This is the year for her. I cannot wait to be on this journey with my mentor and good friend.
Thank you so much for your time Courteney, you’re the perfect fit to commemorate 15 years of Dalston Superstore!

Catch Courteney’s exhibition from April through to June 2024. Launch Thursday the 4th of April, 6-9pm!

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Interview with Courteney Frisby