THE RICE SOCIETY Hi Matthias, it was a bit challenging to find the right title for you as an artist, given your diverse range of talents like writing, photography, DJing… Could you please begin by telling us about your actual profession?
MATTHIAS STRAUB I've been earning my living for many years as a writer, author, conceptionist and consultant for various companies, publishers and agencies. So if I had to think of a job title, it would probably be editor. But who needs job titles? In the end it's all about finding and telling stories about the people around me...
TRS Sounds really interesting. It seems like the term "editor" might not quite capture it all. How do you personally define storytelling?
MS What really interests me is what moves human beings: their fears, worries, hopes, successes and failures. And the feelings that go with them. So, I try to convey emotions - whether as a DJ, an editor or a photographer. For me, it's about entertaining and inspiring people with different stories through images, text and music.
TRS Can you share with us the moment when you realized that storytelling was your true passion?
MS I have always loved writing, especially diaries and travelogues. At the age of 20, I studied agricultural sciences in the tropics at the University of Hohenheim and travelled a lot. When I realised that my experiences were not only of interest to myself and my family, I started to share them with a wider audience. First I added photography to the text, then film and music.
TRS What tools do you use to tell stories beyond your professional work?
MS Well, there is my notebook in which I take my handwritten notes. And of course I use my laptop to make my research, type the texts, edit the pictures and cut movies. But then, there is also a 30-year-old Minolta SRT 101 SLR camera, that I still use with mainly 50mm lenses and cheap analog films. As a DJ, I still trust in vinyl and couldn’t do without two technics 1210 MK2 turntables and a Pioneer mixer.
TRS As a storyteller who wears many hats, what do you find most challenging yet rewarding about juggling multiple creative project?
MS I consider the projects I work on not as a burden, but as a privilege where I can decide how much attention I want to give to a particular project. For me, working on different projects is like controlling a DJ mixer with different channels. If all the channels were open at the same time, the music would sound shitty. You get the best result by focusing on the main channel and keeping the others low. The same goes for projects: Focus on a few and keep the others down - you can always turn the knob up to full volume.
TRS You seem like a person with a lot of energy and ideas. What inspires you the most?
MS People, art and travel. I'm constantly observing my surroundings and trying to find out what's special. Going to a museum or gallery helps, and certainly hanging out with friends. Reading magazines and books, watching movies and listening to podcasts. Nature is also a great source of inspiration.
TRS Among all your projects, is there one that holds a special place in your heart? Maybe a project that deeply touched you, the very first story you shared, or your latest memorable project?
MS Usually, it's the latest project that I'm most excited about. The next issue of THE OPÉRA magazine, for example, which will be released during Paris Photo in November. Or the new DJ mix I am working on. But generally speaking, the most rewarding projects are the ones that failed in some way at the beginning but turned out well in the end. And the ones where you meet new people and make friends.
TRS How do you think stories can help people?
MS Of course, a story has a good effect if you've learned something. But it does not have to be that deep. If a story touches you emotionally - that's something. But the ultimate goal is to inspire someone. For example, if you see a great photo and feel like you have to pick up a camera and go out and take pictures yourself - that's a win.
TRS How do you believe storytelling can contribute to the promotion of sustainable practices?
MS A story helps you understand things much more easily than just reading facts and figures. If you are emotionally attached to an issue, it will affect the way you think about it and therefore the way you act on what you’ve learned. I ‘m deeply convinced that listening to a story about sustainability will make people more aware than just looking at numbers.
TRS What advice would you give to brands like RICE or others on effectively using storytelling to connect with people?
MS Be real and honest. Admit your mistakes. Trust is built on transparency. If you are as passionate about your goals, dreams and achievements as you are about your failures, mistakes and doubts, you will gain recognition and loyalty.
Ira, posted in October, 2023