Kaj Skjervik - 100 Journal
I have photographed Kaj many times, for gig posters, album covers and sometimes just for the hell of it. He is one of the few in my original series of 100 portraits who seemed genuinely at ease in front of the camera. He is simultaneously, a bundle of energy and quietly reflective in his outlook on life.
The portrait I shot for the original 100 series was taken in a coffee shop in Truro that was at the time run by a really good mutual friend. He was there on a ‘self-imposed work experience’. I shot the latest portrait in the Portreath Arms, near his home on Cornwall’s north coast on a grey morning at the end of March. Some incredible 80s power tunes were playing on the pub’s sound system so after I got the shot, we decided to retreat back to his home for a catch-up whilst he prepared for a gig that evening.
I found you in Grounded coffee shop that day…
“Yes, I was on a self-imposed work experience. The last time I did work experience was in a travel agents when I was 15. And although I enjoyed it loads, I’ve not had time to indulge, so I thought hang on I like the idea of maybe one day having a coffee shop because you know, coffee… good, cake… good. Looking back on it, it was really just an excuse to hang out with a friend (Chris who ran Grounded). I spend a lot of time in my own company and I’m quite happy with that. When I do tend to see people, it’s predominantly in a gigging capacity but this was outside of that, it was just getting to spend time in my happy place. It also ties in with where I am now, which with regards to music, I’m plotting and planning my Coffee & Cake tour. Once again, it’s coffee, it’s cake and it’s music.”
There are some recurring themes here
“There are! It’s making life what you want to make it really and as best as I can steer my fate, I’m going to steer it to the coffee shop. Hopefully I’ll find some like-minded people there, hopefully, they’ll let me sing some songs and they might enjoy it. That would be the dream. So yeah, that’s where I am now.”
How have things changed for you?
“It feels like everything and nothing has changed. I’ve not learnt anything other than I love doing what I’m doing and keeping it simple. Ideally I’d spend every moment doing something in the capacity of music. What I feel now is what I didn’t feel two years ago, is how possible that is. Music makes me even happier than I ever thought it did, I knew I needed it and I knew I got some good out of writing songs, my ego got some good out of performing songs. I enjoy more so than ever what I’m doing now and I really don’t know where it’s taking me.
I feel more content - there’s always the worry about being content versus being creative. I had a recent conversation with someone and they told me to be less content. I know what they’re saying, but I’m happy and I’m just trying to keep that going, I don’t feel like I need to suffer and use those emotions to be creative. That’s not how I want to live life. There are more songs and there is more to say when you’re loaded with emotion, but that isn’t sustainable. I keep trying to improve me, that’s my personal want. I want to keep getting better as a human being, as a songwriter, a better husband and friend. Mainly just a kinder person to myself. With every passing year, I feel more content with being me.”
“I don’t want to know too much about where this is going but the coffee & cake tour that I’m planning at the moment is my chance to see what happens. It’s the mystery of wondering what opportunities this tour will bring, what scenarios I’ll find myself in and what I’ll learn from that. Just to be receptive to this and what conversations I’ll have along the way. I don’t know where it’s going to take me but it really doesn’t matter.
When I look back at the portrait from two years ago, it feels like someone else. It’s almost like, it just so happens to be me and I understand that person but at the same time, I don’t understand that person. I’m probably over thinking it and maybe that’s part of something that’s been trained into me, through writing songs and playing the part of a different character. Dreaming up a different version of yourself for that song and that moment. So it feels familiar and unfamiliar. My thoughts are that maybe two years from now, I’ll look back at the portrait from 2016 and it’ll be four years on, it’ll be interesting to see how I feel then and see that passing of time.”
You can follow Kaj's musical adventures over on Instagram at Kaj Music