Friday Mixtape: Photographer Laura Lewis makes us a soundtrack for Japanese love hotels

19 October 2018
Reading Time
4 minute read

A few years ago, photographer Laura Lewis was in Japan and became obsessed with Japanese love hotels. However, it wasn’t the sensual connotations associated with these hotels that fascinated her, but their interiors which were aged and, quite frankly, a little gross.

She started visiting several of them, checking in via a vending machine in the lobby and entering each like a forensic photographer. Laura never photographed beds, the central point of each hotel room, or any couples within them. Instead, she went for the details like the duo of slippers offered to each attendee and the 60s-style bathrooms. In turn, the series titled Passion 202 offers a unique view inside Japanese love hotels and is perfect for a snoop. Rough Trade Books also picked up on this quality of Laura’s work, publishing a pamphlet of the series available here.

To celebrate the release of the book, Laura’s made us this week’s Friday Mixtape full of sexy jams.

It’s Nice That: Why have you picked these songs, what do they remind you of or make you feel?

Laura Lewis: These songs are all about sex! To coincide with my Rough Trade Books pamphlet about Tokyo love hotels – hotels designed specifically for hire by couples who want some anonymity and intimacy – I thought it might be interesting to make a playlist all about the act of making love. It wasn’t too difficult to make a ten song playlist about this subject, practically every artist ever has written about sex. Oh and please note – Spice Girls’ 2 become 1 would have totally been on it if I’d been allowed 11 songs.

INT: When or where should this mixtape be listened to?

LL: See above! These songs are all very well known, the playlist is not designed to educate, but rather to illustrate all the various feelings associated with wanting to tear someone’s clothes off. The nice and sweet stuff, the crazy rock n roll dramatic feeling stuff, the “omg yes” stuff. I don’t think I need to elaborate any further!

INT: What song or album did you listen to as a teenager and why? What kind of posters did you have on your bedroom walls?

LL: Oh crikey. I think listening to songs or albums is pretty much all I did as a teenager. Radiohead, Blur, Elastica were all on repeat in my headphones in high school. The Nirvana MTV Unplugged album, the Romeo and Juliet and Dirty Dancing soundtracks I’d dubbed off my mates’ also-dubbed-tapes got a lot of use. In college, it was Spiritualized, Godspeed, Mogwai, Flaming Lips. And in art school, it was Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Interpol and Doves. And then there was all the drum n bass, jungle, house, hip-hop, soul, pop, RnB that was peppered throughout… I don’t think there are many genres I haven’t had a little dance to at some stage! And the posters in my bedroom? After painting my room dark blue aged 14, I set about adorning it with “tour posters” (rip-off merch sold outside UEA gigs in Norwich by touts for £1). My room, aged 14, was pure indie Britpop – Cast, Smashing Pumpkins, Elastica, Blur, Lush, Ash, Bis, Northern Uproar (!)… well, you asked!

INT: Can you tell us a little about your most recent book released by Rough Trade Books?

LL: Passion 202 is a photography series documenting Tokyo love hotels. In Japan, love hotels are quite a normal thing, yet I knew some of the rooms were weird and wonderful, so I set about photographing some to capture their dated, slightly grubby and gross-yet-beautiful interiors.

I shot the love hotel rooms on 35mm in an almost forensic style, and wanted to show the articles and objects that act as the punctuation to sex, plus the transient world of rooms hired by the hour for lovers’ fleeting encounters. Rough Trade Books have published the series, and I’m really pleased to be alongside amazing creatives such as Salena Godden, Ana Da Silva, Joe Dunthorne and James Endeacott as part of the Editions range of pamphlets. 

INT: Were you listening to any particular genres of music or albums while out in Japan?

LL: No! It was generally just a sensory overload of various sounds, smells, tastes, flavours, language, music, people, places, sights and experiences. However I did have the pleasure of photographing Shigeto on tour in Tokyo for Ghostly, and I also photographed my Japanese friend Miku Kakoi for her latest album, Asleep. You can listen to it here. If you like French-New-Wave-feeling sweet 60s pop vocals with funk and soul and indie pop…did I mention pop?… then this is for you!

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.

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