Extreme Woman: Kim Mercado

this is part of a photo series i’ve been working on since 2011. it is a collection of photographs of badass women involved in metal, hardcore and the borderline metal/punk/avant-garde worlds. these are the people who make up the music scene. these are my friends.


I met Kim in the fifth grade. She was a sweet bubbly girl with fabulous style from Queens. These days she’s a craft beertender and a frequent concert-supporter.

What was your first metal or hardcore experience?

Kim Mercado: I honestly can’t remember that far back. There has been so many shows that I’ve been to that I’ve lost track, but the two that pop up are seeing Cro-Mags (with both John Joseph and Harley Flanagan) at CBGB in 2001 and in 2003 Iron Maiden’s “Give Me Ed Till I’m Dead” tour with Dio and Motörhead. Both shows were amazing.

How’d you get from NBHS to becoming a craft master beer slinger?

KM: I’ve always had a thing for beer. In high school I would drink 40s of shitty malt liquor and I got tired of it and started to explore. My friend introduced me to Belgian beers and I got hooked. After that I would buy a different style of beer every week to try and I got a bunch of books on craft beer and what not. This was around 2005 (underage drinking!) I even started my own beer blog to write reviews, and then I got a job at a beer store called Spuyten Duyvil Grocery. That helped me further my love of beer even more since they were getting some of the best craft beers ever delivered to them. I also am a Certified Beer Cicerone similar to a wine sommelier but with beer and I helped open up Tørst just last year, one of the top beer bars in the states. It’s been an never ending beer adventure. It’s been fun. Beer rules.



What are your favorite brews or cocktails right now?

KM: I have a lot of favorite brews. The ones that most come to mind are Alchemist Heady Topper, Omnipollo Fatamorgana, Cantillon Fou Foune, Birrificio Italiano Tipopils, Westbrook Gose, Evil Twin Brewing Femme Fatale Yuzu, Mikkeller X, Carton Boat Beer, Prairie Bomb, Maine Peeper, Budweiser (only in bottle).

My absolute favorite cocktail in the entire world is a Negroni; equal parts of gin, vermouth and Campari with an orange twist. So simple yet so delicious. I kind of have a love affair with that cocktail. I drink it almost every other day.




Do you ever pair up brews with records? Like this stout perfectly matches THIS band?

KM: I did a couple of times, haha. The last time I paired up Westbrook / Evil Twin Minigrowler Imperial Stout with Alberich’s Psychology of Love. DARK.

You’re going to work in Denmark for three months. What are you taking with you?

KM: Beers, clothes, candy, whiskey, my greenman suit and a smile. I really wish I could bring my records, but there’s too many.

Rock Photography Redux

Rock Photography Redux-sq

Last year Photoville gave me a shot at presenting a workshop. We called it “A DIY Guide to Rock Photography”. I presented alongside Emily Jane. We talked about the fundamentals of photography, learning how to use your camera for different concert venues and what to do with your pictures.

This year Krystal Grow (Photoville) suggested I do a part two. We called it the “Rock Photography Redux”. Polly Watson (editor + writer, High Times, Elle, Art Forum, etc) and I discussed how to kick off your portfolio, having an online presence, talking to people at shows, getting paid work and how to keep getting paid.

When it came to the Q&A’s, most concerns were (and I’m paraphrasing), “How do I avoid getting ripped off?”

This lead to discussing: watermarks, take down notices, using the rip off to your advantage, preventing confusion about the use of your photos. For me, this is what it comes down to, if something doesn’t feel right, use your best judgement. If you want to share some pictures you took of a band with that band or their management, be up front about the usage you will allow (just on facebook and instagram, with a credit and/or link to my site, please).

I stopped using watermarks years ago when a band ripped off one of my photos, with the watermark in like bold 24pt font. The photo was printed big and in multiple magazines. At that point I realized, I guess it doesn’t really matter whether I have my name big or small on it. People will find a way to crop it out. What does matter: metadata. Put your name, contact information and a copyright notice in the metadata. This has just been my personal experience. Your situation might be different and a watermark might save your butt one day, but it didn’t work for me. And it’s nice to share my photos without putting text on the corner because I tend to get as much in a frame as possible. But if it’s in the metadata, editors of legitimate publications will contact you and ask you about usage.

Thankfully I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to send someone a take down notice. Plenty of friends of mine have. It sucks for both parties. I don’t want to have to have that discussion with a publication or publicist. My advice is to always try to keep your cool. Find a way to get your work taken down, or get paid for usage without ruining a potential client relationship. Some people are totally new to the game. Other people have been in the game too long and don’t see the value in your work yet (but they should if they already are finding ways to use it).

After years of taking pictures and staying out way too late, its very easy to get bitter. You can’t go into this business being bitter. You won’t last. And believe me, there will be plenty of things that will wear you out. You have to be stronger than whatever those things will be. Maybe that sounds too meta. What I’m trying to say is, you will get ripped off, and if you’re really good at what you do, you will have it happen often. Learn to defend yourself but in a diplomatic way that will benefit all parties.

If a band is already using your photo in all their press materials, that means they like your work enough that they want your image to represent them. Just find a way to convince them to fairly compensate you for it.

The next step after getting your work in a bunch of places and getting a bunch of checks: growing as a photographer and a person. There is so much information out there about getting to the next step. But if you don’t have an idea what is it that you want for the next step, you’ll have a harder time. Be open to the universe. Be ready for critiquing and criticism; know the difference.

And I’ll leave you off with some links and quotes that I used to prep me for the workshop. Thanks to everyone who came out and supported us. Plus an extra special thanks to Polly, Krystal and Lisa for guiding me and letting me talk too much.

I was raised by Hot97 and BET. Missy was always inspiring and a breath of fresh air, especially when hip-hop was taking an incredibly cookie-cutter and corporate route. In an essay on individuality, Missy talks about her breakthrough and first solo album.

Missy Elliot

Then it was time to shoot the first video from my album, “The Rain”. Here I was a chubby chick with finger waves at a time when everyone else was skinny with long hair. (Actually everyone is still skinny with long hair LOL!)

So what did I do? I didn’t try to dress small. I went the other way. I dressed big. Real big. I wore this plastic hefty bag looking bubble suit, and literally blew myself up with air pumps. That video was so much fun to shoot! I got nominated for 3 MTV music video awards for that video. That was just icing on the cake, but it also confirmed for me what I already knew: it’s not about what the other people are doing. That might work for them. It’s about what works for you, and what YOU think is hot.”

Missy Elliot / Individuals by GAP

Jello Biafra at Europa in Brooklyn, NY. 2010.

Jello Biafra at Europa in Brooklyn, NY. 2010.

Never be afraid of your own brain, or being creative, no matter how weird of uncool you may seem among your conformist peers. Deep down inside, you’re the only one of you there is, and don’t let anybody fuck with that.

Jello Biafra / My Rules by Glen E Friedman


Ice T on the importance of artistic expression
In his essay, Ice T talks about going from a professional hustler to a broke rapper. Even though he didn’t have as many glamorous possessions as he did as a hustler, as a musician he gained an identity. Ice talks more about this transition in a podcast on the Combat Jack show. I think its so relatable for people looking to get out of their current careers or situations.

Prior to rap, I didn’t give a fuck about anything. Because I didn’t think I had anything of real value. But after I started rapping, I could feel that I had something.

Ice T / My Rules by Glen E Friedman


Just don’t be a dick.

As both a kid at venues and a photographer, I’ve always hated photographers’ reckless sense of entitlement at shows. Few things are more frustrating for an audience than an ass with a camera blocking the show just to get his shot.

Glen E Friedman / Keep Your Eyes Open
(Fugazi photobook) by Glen E Friedman

Dana Distortion’s ‘How to Become a Music Photographer’

Todd Owyoung’s ‘Music Photography Quick Start Guide’

Zack Arias’ Ask Me Anything tumblr. Get the book here.

Make a Photo Editor Fall in Love with You

How You Can Screw Up Email

How to Approach Photo Editors The Right Way

Join Your Idols: Ron Varod

Kayo Dot

[ This is an interview series highlighting musicians who go from being a band’s biggest fan to being in THAT band. The title is taken from the hardcore band Kill Your Idols. ]


At what point in your life did you discover Kayo Dot?

Ron Varod: I was really interested the downtown NYC scene right after high school in about ’03 and checking out a lot of shows at Tonic and similar venues. I saw that Tzadik released an album by a goth metal band called Kayo Dot and checked out some samples on their site and really dug it but kinda forgot about it.

A little while after that I saw KD were playing a last minute $4 show in Philly opening for Dillinger Escape Plan and knew I had to check it out. They had 9 people on stage and it was super massive sounding, I knew that as soon as they struck the first chord of the first song (Marathon) that this was my new favorite band! (Even with a handful of bro-ey dudes behind me screaming really crude shit during the whole set to Mia and the other asian female violinist at the time.)

What was the album that drew you in and how did it affect you?

RV: Even though people were being really rude during their set, by the time I got to the merch table all of the copies they had of their only album at the time “Choirs of the Eye” were sold out, so I ordered it online the second I got home and listened to it non-stop until they released the next album a few years later. It was really interesting and progressive music that still had a lot of emotive qualities, up until then I didn’t really think that was possible.

What were you doing before you joined Kayo Dot and how did you join the band?

RV: I had a band up until 2 years ago called So is the Tongue that played a few shows (including our first) with Kayo Dot, sort of a prog-metal trio that I sang for and did the majority of the writing. I also played and still do play solo shows under the monkier Zvi (http://ronzvivarod.bandcamp.com/) that I’m actually taking on the road end of August up to Canada and back.

I sort of crept into Kayo Dot slowly. After they had mutiny of the ‘Dowsing’ lineup at the end of what I heard was a shitty tour, I subbed for a one off gig at an avant-rock festival they were scheduled to play at Tonic. I was super stoked to do that one and then sat in years later to do the only live performance of “Stained Glass”. A little after that they asked me to sub for Mia on a european tour winter 2011 and I’ve been playing with them since.


After being in Kayo Dot for 3+ years, what would you tell your younger self about the band? What about life and music?

RV: Going on tour is awesome, it’s way better than going on some lame vacation and seeing a bunch of landmarks and eating local food. Touring is gonna be one of the reasons you still want to be in a band and “go for it”.

The guys in Kayo Dot talk about doody and weiners like anybody else you know and want to be friends with, they’re awesome dudes to hang out with, also they’re the best karaoke crew you’ll ever find.

Also you’re gonna be thrown a lot of difficult music that will frustrate the shit out of you, but try not to be a baby about it, you’ll come out a better musician and a more well rounded person at the other end.

Marry, Fuck, Kill. Bandmate version: Toby, Keith, Dan.

This game is super dark but I think I’ll go with this….

Marry Dan
Fuck Keith
Kill Toby

Why Toby?!

RV: Toby steals all my patch cables, dude’s gotta go.

Let’s say I’m 17, love extreme-avant-prog-metal and want to start a band. What’s your advice for me?

RV: Do it as much as you can now while you have the free time, you’ll get your chops up and hopefully work a lot on your own playing and songwriting while you’re at it.

Make being in a band fun, even if you’re the leader and the one holding the reins don’t be a dick about it, it’s just fucking nerd-metal music, girls aren’t going to like it anyway.

demos, My Fruit Psychobells, Bath/Leaving Your Body Map or Part The Second?

RV: I’m totally false and haven’t listened to much Maudlin even though it’s all on my iPod. I’ve probably listened to Part the Second the most. We did ‘Stones of October’s Sobbing’ once at a Kayo Dot show and it was a really fun to play and some kid just started screaming “oh my fucking god” over and over again like he was gonna cry as soon as I hit the first chord.

That “some kid” was probably Hock.

RV: Andrew probably wouldn’t cry, I don’t think he has emotions.

Nice try Ron. http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/kayo-dot/913828-ron-varod-appreciation-thread.html



ZVI Tour Dates:

Sat 8/16 New Haven, CT @ Anna Liffeys
Sun 8/17 Providence, RI @ Funky Jungle
Mon 8/18 Allston, MA @ O’Brien’s Pub
Tue 8/19 Danbury, CT @ Heirloom Arts
Wed 8/20 Hancock, NY @ FWF
Thu 8/21 Syracuse, NY @ Gorham Brothers Music
Fri 8/22 Toronto, ON @ Ratio
Sat 8/23 Ottawa, ON @ Black Squirrel Books
San 8/24 Montréal, QC @ The Plant
Mon 8/25 Burlington, VT @ Nectar’s
Tue 8/26 Portland, ME @ Geno’s