Bryson Tiller
Photo: Shareif Ziyadat / Contributor via Getty Images

Tour Tales | Setor Tsikudo photographed the lengths Bryson Tiller’s fans went to show their love

“Fans got to hang out with him, talk to him… He doesn’t like when people see him as, ‘Oh my God, you are Bryson Tiller.’ To him, he’s family,” the renowned photographer told REVOLT of the singer’s latest tour.

  /  08.22.2023

Setor Tsikudo is everywhere you likely aren’t; he doesn’t take anything for granted. He’s photographed Kanye West, Pop Smoke, Baby Rose, and Bryson Tiller while thinking about how those photos will fit within their legacy, not just their Instagram grid. On Tiller’s “Back And I’m Better Tour,” Tsikudo saw how much fans missed him.

“One fan got his autograph, and she got it tattooed two days later. She made a show four days later to show us the tattoo. There was a fan that made about five meet-and-greets,” Tsikudo told REVOLT.

In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the brilliant photographer explained capturing the emotion of Tiller’s first tour in five years, the lengths he went to give the singer’s live shows its visual aesthetic, and how he earned Westside Gunn’s trust. Read the exclusive chat below.

How did you initially connect with Bryson Tiller?

Connecting with Bryson Tiller started with me meeting his manager, Neil Dominique. We met when Pardison Fontaine had a meet-and-greet in Harlem. Then, I randomly bumped into Neil again while shooting Fashion Week. Fast forward, he called three months later asking me what my schedule was because he was going to be in New York to shoot some stuff for Pardison Fontaine. I slowly got introduced to Bryson. Teyana Taylor directed the “Love…(Her Fault)” video with Wale and Bryson. We went out to Miami to shoot that, and Bryson was around. From then, we kept building a relationship.

What was your life like on the “Back And I’m Better Tour”?

It was tricky. Before going on tour, my whole life consisted of hopping on a flight and going to a city for a big event. While being on tour, [it] wasn’t a surprise going to places city after city, the hardest part was really the bus. That was an interesting experience because you don’t know when you’re getting into the next city or leaving for the next city. You must also decide whether you’ll be on the artist or crew’s bus. If you’re on the artist’s bus, you’re up every time the artist is up because you have to document every moment on the tour. Bryson hadn’t been on the road in over five years, so we met a lot of kids that would say, “I was 16 when I started hearing your records, and now I’m 21.” Typically, the after-parties are where we’ve met his older crowd. Everyone was jamming to the classics and stuff like that. And Bryson got to hang out with a lot of the fans. He was big on meeting the people because, from what I’ve heard, he never really got the chance to be around his fans on past tours. This time we were always interacting with fans.

What were some of those notable fan interactions?

One fan got his autograph, and she got it tattooed two days later. She made a show four days later to show us the tattoo. There was a fan that made about five meet-and-greets. Fans got to hang out with him, talk to him, and listen to music at his meet-and-greets. We did karaoke after the show. He doesn’t like when people see him as, “Oh my God, you are Bryson Tiller.” To him, he’s family. 

Did he have any input on how you shot his shows?

Yeah because the creative side is very important to him. He cares about how things are shot, the mediums, and where things are shot. The whole concept of his tour was based around Back to the Future and his love for video games. He jammed every one of his passions into one 75-minute set. He chose and added stuff as we went through the tour. So, my task for this tour was to shoot his whole tour on film. In every city we went to, I had my film cameras. I had to source film from every city we went to or stock up where I could find it. Film was tough because it took a lot of work to get halfway through the tour. I would have to call at least three to four film labs in every city to source film. Then, I would have to call them again and figure out which film lab would have the best scans. If you look at Bryson’s production, it was very silhouette-like. It was big on lights, graphics, and strobes. This is stuff that is easy to capture with an SLR. But to do it on a film camera, it’s more complicated. But, to me, the joy of photography is figuring out how to get the shot and how to figure out the best way to get the shot. He trusted my vision and always told me just to do what I do. 

What song of his got the biggest reaction?

I would say the No. 1 song was “Right My Wrongs.” Whenever I was running through the crowd seeing fans sing “Right My Wrongs,” the emotion they put into singing it with him was incredible. Closer to the end of the tour, it became more special because he brought his daughter out to perform with him. 

Did you two bond while on tour?

Yeah, we had so many moments. One day, we had a big barbecue at a random hotel. We found a grill, we got ingredients, and we had a barbecue outside playing football, riding bikes around, and playing Monopoly on the bus. Bryson is big on video games, so I remember playing Nintendo on the bus. We had so many moments.

You were also deeply ingrained in the Griselda camp during the pandemic. How did you and Westside Gunn collaborate?

The biggest thing for me is building trust. I met Westside Gunn at an SOB’s show, but we hit it off in Paris for either the Off-White or Casablanca show. After a while, if you keep meeting artists repeatedly, you can build respect and trust with them. Also, family means the world to Westside. When you see Westside Gunn, you’re not just seeing him; you’re seeing his family, his daughter, and every link to Westside. When I photograph him, I photograph him with intention, not just having the eye to see a moment. I’m looking at what that moment means to him and his family.

What do you have coming for 2023?

I just got off of the tour. I’m trying to figure that out now. For me, the biggest thing is branding. I enjoy living in the moment so much that it’s hard to get out. But I also must realize that I need to reflect on everything I’ve done over the years and package it to show the world. I enjoy being the fly on the wall. But everything now is online and for social media. You can’t gauge me by seeing what I have on the internet. I need to do a better job branding myself, so the world can see what I’ve done and understand how much time and effort I have put into my craft over the years. The last few months, for me, are really about reflecting. I’m going through a personal journey to focus more on my craft and work on branding. The universe decides what’s next. 

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