SHOP

Interview Yasmin Suteja

Visions in vegas.

Lovely to finally get a chance to chat Yasmin! Ok, so run a quick mini intro for us.

Yasmin, 24, Sydney, Bali. Founder and creative at Culture Machine Haha

What were you studying prior to landing in the space you are now?

I was doing a Bachelor of Arts & Communication majoring in Media production, when I went into it I was truly interested in Film making and wanted to become a cinematographer. And I probably realized halfway through my first year that it probably wasn’t somewhere where I wanted to go.

Yasmin Suteja

Being a young founder do you think you need to acquire a particular mindset to be as successful in this industry?

I think it’s really about having an all rounded skill set to be honest. What I’ve learnt now is that film making in particular is very much about teamwork, not so much about a particular mindset. I really enjoyed the aspect of working in teams when you put a bunch of people together.

Any memorable moments along the way building your dream?

I started a series that was profiling young creative’s. Fortunately, I interviewed quite a number of people who have actually gone on to become quite massive.

Be nice to the nerds!

Yasmin Suteja

Any in particular standouts?

Margaret Zhang was actually one person I interviewed early days who’s a huge fashion blogger now. This amazing illustrator Sha’an d’Anthes was another one who goes by the name Furry little peach.

What crazy story do you have behind how you landed into the world of photography and fashion?

I actually won a photography competition. Won $2,000 and I bought my first DSLR. First paid gig was with a friend shooting an album cover for their Jazz band.

From there I kinda started getting photography jobs. I was always out there shooting my own stuff and I was collaborating with stylists and make up artists and at that time I was very interested in scouting on instagram and coming across people. And I’d be putting together mood boards and approaching stylists and essentially shooting editorials.

Does passion for creativity run in the family?

Oh man…My mum was such a huge influence on me growing up. She was an actor in NIDA, a surfer and photographer. So as a kid she had me involved in art classes, violin classes, she was actually my teacher from kindergarten to year three in Bali! Also being exposed to different cultures growing up in Bali impacted on my passion. Even on my Dad’s side, so many of them are plenty creative and really good with their hands.

What did you find yourself loving most to shoot?

I found that I really loved street and I loved youth.

Yasmin Suteja

Where did a love of this field and ‘Culture Machine’ come to be?

21, in the states, over for Coachella, so I was there pretty much to document everything that happened for a friends fashion label haha

I was the youngest of the group, my first time overseas, I’m not really a big partier or anything so my camera was such a big safety net!

I remember being in a hotel room in Vegas, I had this name in my head for ages, I think I read it on the back of my journal at uni and it was Culture Machine.

What was your first big move under this new idea?

I made a Tumblr. Uploaded all of these film photos I was taking from Coachella, documenting all these crazy people and it was very observant and I found the photos had this air about them that was just so ‘effortless’ no posing or anything.

Went back to Bali where my mum was living, I was contacted by Tiger mist and they wanted me to shoot their next campaign. And looking back I think that kind of really launched my career I guess. And moving to Sydney!

How did the whole representation of talent come about?

I began to source more and more work from the Tiger Mist project. So I started scouting talent, models, my first experience managing talent was a friend of mine from Uni.

What daily mantra have you adopted to stay so focused & motivated?

My mum has always said ‘every problem has a solution’ haha And I used to get so annoyed with her because I would be like ‘Well obviously!’ But yeh I think I’ve always just been focused on never giving up. Telling myself ‘there’s got to be a way’. Even when it comes to fitting couches in a car! There’s got to be a way!

Who keeps you inspired?

My boyfriend Kale, he has such a different eye, the way that he sees things is really inspiring. Also my brother, Kath and Luka inspire me with their style, filmmaking and approach to things. And I just get so excited to talk to them all, everyday, about ideas.

Are you proactive still in your day-to-day?

Absolutely, I don’t sort of sit around waiting for people to contact me, early days I would send out mass emails, design my own media kits, explain what Culture Machine is etc.

Yasmin Suteja

‘Culture Machine’ is a multi faceted agency. Is it a case of, the more services you offer, the more valuable you are?

It’s a bit of that but a lot to do with the cohesiveness of the way that those services are offered. So the fact that we work as a team everyday we know how to juggle relationships and roles on set.

Yasmin runs into her younger self on the streets of Sydney, what advice do you give her?

Hmmm I probably would have told her to go and do a business degree haha I wish I knew more about accounting and the practical things that come with running a business.

But ‘keep doing what you’re doing and be true to yourself’. I was actually the biggest nerd in highschool! Really into debating, public speaking and didn’t have too many friends, school choir and shit. It’s funny how things develop. So in the end, be nice to the nerds! Haha they end up always doing something!

You and the Culture Machine team get to use a skywriter over Sydney for the day, what do you write?

Probably something from a Funk song, my brother listens to a lot of Funk music haha It just makes you feel really good!

In such an industry where most can pick up a camera and start a career, do you come across some things or common mistakes you see that make you cringe?

Yup, Absolutely! I think that was one of the reasons I decided to move away from Bali to Sydney. There were just so many people doing the same thing, regurgitating the same images, and I was getting really sick of it to, seeing mood boards with the same image of a girl pulling her bikini bottoms up on the side! Haha And I thought I can’t possibly take another one of these photos. So just kind of got tired of seeing the exact same thing, its very easy to imitate its very difficult to innovate.

 

Keep doing what you’re doing, be true to yourself!

Yasmin Suteja

What was your first big move under this new idea?

I made a Tumblr. Uploaded all of these film photos I was taking from Coachella, documenting all these crazy people and it was very observant and I found the photos had this air about them that was just so ‘effortless’ no posing or anything.

Went back to Bali where my mum was living, I was contacted by Tiger mist and they wanted me to shoot their next campaign. And looking back I think that kind of really launched my career I guess. And moving to Sydney!

How did the whole representation of talent come about?

I began to source more and more work from the Tiger Mist project. So I started scouting talent, models, my first experience managing talent was a friend of mine from Uni.

What daily mantra have you adopted to stay so focused & motivated?

My mum has always said ‘every problem has a solution’ haha And I used to get so annoyed with her because I would be like ‘Well obviously!’ But yeh I think I’ve always just been focused on never giving up. Telling myself ‘there’s got to be a way’. Even when it comes to fitting couches in a car! There’s got to be a way!

Who keeps you inspired?

My boyfriend Kale, he has such a different eye, the way that he sees things is really inspiring. Also my brother, Kath and Luka inspire me with their style, filmmaking and approach to things. And I just get so excited to talk to them all, everyday, about ideas.

Are you proactive still in your day-to-day?

Absolutely, I don’t sort of sit around waiting for people to contact me, early days I would send out mass emails, design my own media kits, explain what Culture Machine is etc.

Yasmin Suteja

‘Culture Machine’ is a multi faceted agency. Is it a case of, the more services you offer, the more valuable you are?

It’s a bit of that but a lot to do with the cohesiveness of the way that those services are offered. So the fact that we work as a team everyday we know how to juggle relationships and roles on set.

Yasmin runs into her younger self on the streets of Sydney, what advice do you give her?

Hmmm I probably would have told her to go and do a business degree haha I wish I knew more about accounting and the practical things that come with running a business.

But ‘keep doing what you’re doing and be true to yourself’. I was actually the biggest nerd in highschool! Really into debating, public speaking and didn’t have too many friends, school choir and shit. It’s funny how things develop. So in the end, be nice to the nerds! Haha they end up always doing something!

You and the Culture Machine team get to use a skywriter over Sydney for the day, what do you write?

Probably something from a Funk song, my brother listens to a lot of Funk music haha It just makes you feel really good!

In such an industry where most can pick up a camera and start a career, do you come across some things or common mistakes you see that make you cringe?

Yup, Absolutely! I think that was one of the reasons I decided to move away from Bali to Sydney. There were just so many people doing the same thing, regurgitating the same images, and I was getting really sick of it to, seeing mood boards with the same image of a girl pulling her bikini bottoms up on the side! Haha And I thought I can’t possibly take another one of these photos. So just kind of got tired of seeing the exact same thing, its very easy to imitate its very difficult to innovate.

Why do you think you all have built an engaging audience?

I think because of the things we were doing as friends. People started identifying the linking of the pieces. We just built up an organic following.

What is the biggest challenge about being your own boss?

The biggest challenge about being your own boss is standing up for what you’re worth. I’ve found it challenging when it comes to me booking myself. I’ll always kind of sell myself short. It’s actually quite hard to be really confident sometimes in what you do.

Strangest request you’ve had? Be it for work or invitation to an event.

I remember getting an email from a brand, they had kind of written it in a strange way, it said something like ‘Hey legends, We FUCKING love you guys’ and I was kind of like ‘Woah!’ Haha And they wanted us to shoot their campaign with glitter, a bunny suit and no bunnies would get hurt kind of thing. I just was like ‘what is this?!’ haha But it actually ended up being a really brilliant project and brand to work with.

Is it true that the majority of the Culture Machine team live under one roof?

This is TRUE! I feel like it was always like a pipe dream to begin with haha It’s hard enough to meet best friends than it is to live in the same house and work together. I’m so fortunate and grateful that I’ve pretty much met and live with my ‘mini family’.

Yasmin Suteja

Why is it important to define yourself?

It’s so important because you understand your identity, your aesthetic. For us, we are a group of people, a team. So when we go to parties and we network it’s super important for us. Most of the time brands contact us for who we are and what we do. And they give us the creative freedom. The surf dive n ski brief recently was ‘do whatever you do’. Because we love you guys.

Where does the importance of story telling begin for you?

This even goes back to film school. I noticed one thing really lacking from the course was in fact story telling. We were so focused on what looks great, what’s the most expensive camera we can get, and wed go to these screenings and see these beautifully shot films but there was just literally no engagement. There was no story telling. Even through this social media presence that we have we are unfolding a real story in front of people’s eyes.

Free radical TV started with the intent to be a mini reality tv show. Because I knew that’s what people would become invested in. They’d return to an account where they were personally invested in. They want to know what you’re doing, who you’re hanging out with and what you’re working on.

And that’s just what we do.

Yasmin, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to chat with us. We will watch on with excitement as Culture Machine goes from strength to strength. Welcome to the Ledin Gray family.