Autumn DeWilde

Hosted by
The name Autumn De Wilde may not sound familiar, but if you own the White Stripes’ “Icky Thump” or Beck’s “Sea Change” you’ve seen her photography work. She tells DJ Eric J. Lawrence about her muse for photographing bands who are uneasy in front of the camera, emotional tracks that impacted her personal and professional life and a fun story from behind the scenes with Meg and Jack. Aside from shooting album and magazine covers, Autumn is also a music video director (Rilo Kiley, Spoon) and author.

For more:


1.) David Bowie - Oh! You Pretty Things
2.) Elliott Smith - Say Yes
3.) Beck - It's All In Your Mind
4.) White Stripes - In The Cold Cold Night
5.) The Langley Schools Music Project - Desperado


Eric J. Lawrence - Hi, this is Eric J. Lawrence from KCRW and I'm here with photographer Autumn DeWilde. Her photographs have appeared in Vogue, Spin, Rolling Stone, and on the cover of Filter. She has also worked with KCRW favorites like Beck, The White Stripes, and Elliot Smith. Today we're going to talk about some of the music that has inspired her over the years. Autumn, thanks for coming down.

Autumn DeWilde - Thanks for having me.

Eric J. Lawrence - Ok, the first track you selected was from David Bowie's classic album Hunky Dory. You picked the song, "Oh You Pretty Things."

Autumn DeWilde - “Hunky Dory” has been an important record to me for a lot of reasons for many years. And one of the reasons is that when I'm photographing a band that's not so comfortable being photographed, I remind them of David Bowie because a lot of people who write great music are often uncomfortable posing. And I remind them of how inspiring David Bowie was as a visual artist and the cover of “Hunky Dory,” especially. He is posing. It's so artificial and so real at the same time. I tell them when it's right, it's like that.

You want to know what he is looking at, you wonder what he just said, you wonder what he said right after. It's still posed portrait, but it's so full of mystery and life. I sort of give them, that’s kind of the idea -- if you're going to do a pose, not that you're going to look like him or that we copy this, but it has that power to it. So, getting them to trust me and getting them to play is the most important part about it.

Song: David Bowie’s “Oh You Pretty Things”

Eric J. Lawrence - Autumn, the next song you selected was from another singer-songwriter , somebody who is clearly influenced by David Bowie. You picked a selection from Elliot Smith from his album Either/Or. You picked the song "Say Yes."

Autumn DeWilde - You know what, this was hard. I mean, come on, every song has inspired me. Obviously, the friendship and the creative relationship, there's a long story there. All of his music has been important in my work. I picked "Say Yes" because this was a really special memory. My friend sat me down, we were going to go out for that night, and she was like "hold on, you gotta hear this song" and she played "Say Yes" for me. And of course I burst into tears. (laughs) I was like, "who is this man!"

Eric J. Lawrence - Elliot can do that to you.

Autumn DeWilde - But I also was somehow late and hadn't heard the other records so this was my very first experience. And as I was listening to it, and instantly applying it to my own life, I lifted up the cover of the record and was so surprised at what he looked like, and how interesting he looked, and how he wasn't a pretty boy, but he was so attractive to me. It's one of my favorite album covers of all time. I feel like it was just the perfect photo for that record. So, I wanted to play this song because this was really the beginning of my obsession.

Song: Elliot Smith’s “Say Yes”

Eric J. Lawrence - We are here with rock photographer Autumn DeWilde and her selections here as guest DJ. The next artist you picked, another singer/songwriter, somebody you worked with, is Beck. And the track you selected for us is "All in Your Mind." Why did you pick that particular track?

Autumn DeWilde - Beck was another difficult one to choose a song. I mean 'Loser' is incredible and was the beginning of my obsession with Beck. I chose this song because I have a distinct memory of it.

Besides doing the photos for the album, Beck asked me to come in for a couple days to document them at Ocean Way (studio). And I was walking in with my equipment and I was going through a pretty bad breakup and Beck had obviously gone through a bad breakup. I knew all about that, and knew everyone involved, and I was walking down the hallway at Ocean Way and I heard this song coming through. There was nobody there and I started crying. I heard the lyrics and couldn't stop crying. I came in sorta teary eyed, like, ‘it's really good, hi.’ (laughter).

Eric J. Lawrence - That's what the best music should do. It should touch your emotions.

Autumn DeWilde - I'm the e-mooo-tional photographer.

Song: Beck’s “All in Your Mind”

Eric J. Lawrence - So, the next thing we got is from the White Stripes, which is another artist you worked with. Right?

Autumn Dewilde - I did the Icky Thump cover. I love Icky Thump. I chose this song because I went on tour with The White Stripes when they toured every province in Canada. One of the things I found amazing about photographing them live and watching them live is that Jack and Meg don't make set lists. So, Meg doesn't know what song is coming next until Jack plays a guitar riff or shouts it out. And I love when Meg sings 'In the Cold, Cold Night' live, which is why I picked this one. I think one of my favorite things about it, when you see it live, is that she always looks ready -- like there's this stress and tension because she doesn't want to screw up the first, the beginning of the song. She is so ready to rock and then Jack starts the guitar riff. Then she sorta takes a little breath and puts her drumsticks down and sorta of saunters down to the center of the stage to sing this amazing song. That's why I wanted to play this song.

Song: The White Stripes’ “In the Cold, Cold Night”

Eric J. Lawrence - So, the final selection you've got for us is something that is sort of a unique project, The Langely School Music Project. Why don't you tell us a little bit about that record and why you picked the particular track you did?

Autumn Dewilde - Well, the Langley School Music Project was a music teacher in the ‘70s. He arranged popular songs from that time period for the kids. He recorded iton two track, I think, and pressed some records and everyone got one for the family and I think somehow it ended up in the bins and was discovered and then put out finally. And the first time that I heard this record I freaked out, right, as a lot of people have. And when I heard “Desperado,” I lost it.

Eric J. Lawrence: That’s the Eagles classic.

Autumn DeWilde; Yes, and I’m not an Eagles fan. But I have to admit, that I appreciated the songwriting much more coming from this little girl.

Eric J. Lawrence: So it’s a little girl singing this really kinda heavy song.

Autumn DeWilde; It’s a little girl and the piano. And I think for a lot of people its partially the affectionate memories of a great music teacher at school or drama class or something that saved you from the despair of life as a teenager. So this has been an inspiration for me for many years.

Song: Langley Schools Music Project “Desperado”

Eric J. Lawrence: Well, Autumn I want to thank you for coming down and sharing some of your musical selections with us.

Autumn DeWilde; Thank you, thank you. It was so hard to choose!