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The Tourist

Interview by Ally Mullen

Jamie-James Medina is the photographer behind
The Tourist, an exclusive zine from UO and The xx.

My name is Jamie-James Medina and I'm a photographer and editor for The Tourist photo-zine. I was born in England, but I grew up in Asia and now I live in New York City, so I'm basically just a tourist.

Can you tell us a little about The xx zines you’ve shot?

I started working with The xx in 2009/2010 traveling with them, taking photos of the group on tour and just being present. It’s the perfect environment to capture music and musicians in their natural state — on the road, away from home. I wanted to create a publication that showcased exclusive, high-end photography in an affordable zine-format, so we created The Tourist.

Issue 1 with The xx was released in December, 2010 and followed the band on tour in America. Issue 2 follows the band around the world as they promote their new album, Coexist. When we were in Japan, fans were getting issues signed by the band, so it’s exciting to see this thing grow and exist. And, of course, traveling with The xx and getting to see them play every night is always special.

Where was the zine shot? Which photo is your favorite?

This issue takes place all over the world—France, Los Angeles, NYC, Australia and Japan —but my favorite image is this shot of Romy in London before the new album was finished. The group was rehearsing and I was hearing some of the new songs for the first time and I caught this moment. Romy seems so focused on her instrument and withdrawn, but the guitar lead connects us to her. It’s a photo about listening.

What's your favorite song on the new The xx album, Coexist?

I love “Fiction” and the lyrics to” Sunset,” but hearing “Angels” for the first time was a special moment.

Describe each band member in one word.

I'm completely biased, but: Romy Madley: angel; Oliver Sim: private; Jamie Smith: talkative.

So is that where the name "The Tourist" came from or from something else?

It just came to me very quickly. I jump from tour to tour—we're professional tourists. I wrote it down and I liked the way the two Ts looked in print and that was that.

What's the biggest tourist attraction in your city?

I live in New York, so even taking the subway is a touristy thing to do, but I live right by Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, so maybe going to see the Yankees?

What is one thing you want to see before you die?

I'd love to hug a panda and visit the Darvaza Gas Crater in Turkmenistan.

What is your favorite museum ever?

The Rodin Museum in Paris. I keep going back to the Gates of Hell for some reason.

So how big of a zine fan are you? What are some of your favorites?

I really feel a part of that community, so I try to collect as many self-published books and zines as I can. I love Noah Lyon’s brilliant Retard Riot zines, which are limited edition photocopied comic strips that just explode off the page. As for music, NUTS! is a brilliant newsprint zine from Olympia, WA that I always read.

Speaking of “coexisting,” have you ever have lived with someone you didn’t really get along with?

I have a twin sister and we shared a room when we were kids. I'm pretty tolerant, but I'm a light sleeper, and I have a bulldog that keeps me up at night. It’s like having a pet rhinoceros with smoker's lung. I'll wake up three or four times a night to drag him out of the room, but he always sneaks back in. It’s a nightmare, but we don't pick the ones we love—we have somehow learned to coexist.