Portraits by Dougal Gorman
Aidan Ouma-Machio was born and raised in Sydney, Australia.
Narwee, more specifically. Where the fuck is that, you ask? I suppose you’ll just have to read this interview. If for some reason you don’t want to read the rest of this article and just look at the photos, then I’ll simplify things and tell you that Aidan skates, models and takes a great photo. Not only that but his head is well screwed on, and his first and last answers will paint a picture of how determined he is to propel himself forward in life… Just read the interview, dammit!
What’s been on your mind lately?
Fuck, everything. It’s hard to say there’s been one specific thing that’s been on my mind, but I guess my career is always a pretty major focal point of it all. Trying to figure how I make myself last in the industries that I’m apart of and not so much stay ‘relevant,’ but put things out that both I feel happy with, and other people feel happy with. Creatively, I guess finishing up my video part with my friend Cameron called After Hours—we’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into that and I’m hoping that it shows. In terms of fashion, I’m trying to weasel my way into every bit of it I can to make sure people remember my name. On top of that, just making sure that my mental health is as good as it can be. I feel like now, more than ever, people are struggling to keep themselves grounded. We all have so much shit to worry about right now that it’s very easy to get lost in your own head. So yeah, keep myself grounded, occupied, creative, all that cliché bullshit.
Where did you grow up and how has that shaped who you are today?
I’ve grown up and lived in the same fucking suburb my whole life. I live in Sydney, specifically in a little suburb called Narwee, which is also next to a suburb called Beverly Hills. It’s nowhere near as fancy or as glamourous as it sounds. I don’t know how it shaped me… I guess I’ve grown up in a very family-orientated suburban lifestyle. It felt like I was one number in a big mix of other numbers, where it’s very easy to get lost in the big wave of life. I think being in Sydney has helped shape me culturally, plus finding my own independence and trying to be a little bit different to everyone else. I think my also background—having my mum being Italian and my dad being African and both of them not being from Australia, and my brother and I being the first generation; realising we have a lot of identity to find within this country.
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What is your fondest skateboarding memory?
Fondest memory of skateboarding? Fuck. I feel like I had this thought come through my mind recently. Probably having the 335 video premiere a couple years ago.
Was that at that pub up the road?
Yeah, the pub in Petersham.
Dude someone got glassed!
It was quite an eventful night, I think it was the first premiere I’ve ever had with a group of my friends. There was a lot of drama happening, like you said someone got glassed there! The whole episode behind that was pretty memorable. I think a really drunk chick was pissed off with a dude in her way, so she decided that the best way to go about sorting it was throwing her drink on this dude then throwing the glass at him. The premiere obviously got cut short, but we ended up finishing the video, went back to an Airbnb and partied the night away. I think we all lost our minds a little bit that night. Such a fond memory being able to celebrate that all with everyone in Sydney for the first time. Wholesome vibes.
I went to that prem, it was the first time I’d been to a skate event in Sydney and people are out here getting fucking glassed. I was like, where did I move to?! Anyway, in your opinion, who’s one of the most stylish skaters on and off the board?
Probably my friend Riwaz Kazi! That guy sure knows how to fucking dress. He’s very, very much in love with his fine fabrics. Obviously that’s a biased answer, but if it’s not Riwaz, it’s Ishod Wair. Everyone can agree he dresses pretty fucking well, I’ve met him a few times and seems like a very stylish man on and off the board. And Justin Henry, can’t deny he’s got such good style.
How did you get into modelling?
I guess really organically. Prior to signing to my agency, I was doing small freelance jobs for companies in Sydney. Then when I was in Europe in 2019, I had a photographer hit me up on Instagram and her name was Imogen Wilson. When I got back to Sydney, I met with her to take some portraits and she introduced me to my now modelling agency, Kult. Pretty much on the spot they handed me a contract and asked if I wanted to be apart of the family. I signed up right away and never looked back. I have a lot to thank them for.
On that, do you think Instagram helped you get your modelling job?
Instagram is every freelancer’s best tool to market themselves, in a sense. A lot of people don’t feel the need to take it seriously and that works in their favour sometimes, but I think just the fact you can expose yourself that easily, it definitely opens a lot of doors because everyone and anyone can see it. If your willing to put yourself out there then it’s going to work in your favour.
Last Christmas I saw your face printed all around the CBD. Was it a trip to see that?
It felt very surreal walking down George Street and Central Park and seeing billboards of my face. Because I’ve been doing it for so long now, I’ve gotten so used to friends sending me screenshots and my face coming up on my own Instagram, I kinda had to desensitise myself to it. I definitely feel like I accomplished something, felt pretty cool and a lot weirder than I’d ever expected.
Do you get asked to bring your skateboard to photoshoots?
Quite often I bring my board to shoots with full intentions to skate after work. Even if I’m not told to bring my board, I usually bring it anyway, which doesn’t work in my favour. To make sure I don’t look like a kook, I try and advise brands as best I can to capture the right frame. I always try and tell them that there is a specific look that will turn people off buying their products if they’re trying to portray skateboarders in this way. Although it sounds weird, I just try and keep it as core as possible for them so it doesn’t make them look weird. But ultimately, so I don’t look weird.
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When did you first pick up a camera?
I’d say it would have been… year 11? I took up photography as an extracurricular subject at my school. Everyday Monday for the first year of senior school, I’d stay back and do an extra three hours of photography with a few of my friends. They had a darkroom and lab to develop our own film on campus. I think that really ignited a love and creative flair for photography, but I never considered it something I’d take seriously. When I left high school, I found my first point and shoot at a thrift store for five bucks and never looked back. I always keep disposables in my bag or a camera on me just to shoot whatever happens in my day to day life. And it’s pretty sick to think that now, I can somehow make money off that.
What’s one of your favourite images you’ve taken recently and why?
There’s some photos that I shared on my Instagram in the middle of last year of some really foggy light posts at my train station and at a soccer field near my house, where some dude’s training. I don’t know what it is about fog but it’s just something that i’ve always loved to try capture. It’s so weird and elusive. It’s so random and the fact that you have to be so opportunistic with it makes it more exciting.
Have you found that skateboarding has influenced your creative process, such as your photography?
Yeah for sure. It’s definitely influenced it in the sense of being patient sometimes and knowing that not everything is going to come straight away. Like what we were talking about before—losing your creative flare then waiting for it to reignite over the smallest thing. With skateboarding, you’re constantly trying to keep your eyes open for something new and something different and trying to find an approach to a spot that no one’s used before. I try to apply that to my photography. Although it’s really basic a lot of the time, it’s about being opportunistic and taking photos of things that are in a brief moment of your entire life.
What’s your focus for 2021?
As stupid as it sounds, it’s to make as much money as I possibly can. Like fuck, I don’t want to be broke anymore. Not to say that I’m broke now, but I want to be financially secure so that I can live the kind of life I want to live without worrying about making ends meet. I also want to push myself beyond my own boundaries more than I ever have and try to accomplish as much as I possibly can. Given everything that happened in the last year, it’s been a pretty heavy reminder to really take advantage of any opportunity that you have right now. We don’t know what the future holds. If there’s ever an opportunity to travel then I’m glad that I’ll have the money available to get the fuck out of Sydney.