Maybe you have already realized how much a music fan I am by reading this blog or by following my personal Instagram feed. Not only a music fan, but a very old school music fan: I prefer to listen to music on vinyl or tape rather than streamed or downloaded. Some of my music related illustrations are published in the "sound pics" section of this website.
Last year, thanks to my online postings, music producer Ologist BBB from the Better Beat Bureau collective of Virginia approached me and asked me to provide him with a couple of illustrations. His request eventually lead to my very first album cover artwork, for his "When Crates Create", which is a beat tape on actual old-fashioned tape. Therefore I owe the Ologist my very first entry in the online encyclopedia of discography Discogs.
This was only the beginning of our collaboration: thanks to the Ologist I am currently working on the cover artwork for another tape release. (Yes another tape release, and yes we are indeed living in the 21st century.) Actually, there seems to be a revival of tapes, similar to the vinyl revival we have witnessed during the last few years. Like the vinyl revival, the tape revival is spearheaded by music fans who like to have a nice object on physical support (a digital file is just not the same!), although the love of tapes represents more of an underground phenomenon than the love of vinyls.
The new tape project is inspired by breaks and samples mixtapes such as the "On track" series by Djs Kon & Amir in the mid 90's, mixing parts of soul, funk, jazz, rock records already sampled on hip hop or electro records or potential breaks to be used. Contrary to these releases, the originality of the project comes from the fact that the records have been selected by various vinyl collectors from all over the world, who have found each other thanks to the vinyl community on Instagram. I will not only provide the cover artwork, I have also had the honor to select a track for the mixtape. It is not easy to select only a single track out of the thousands of records I own, but I have finally found the one. A rare 70's Swiss psychedelic rock record, discovered some time ago through a fellow vinyl connaisseur and friend of mine.
My collaboration with the Ologist has sparked another project: I have been approached by his friend Jason McGuiness aka Analog Burners. He is a L.A. based DJ, record collector, graphic designer and music producer. You may know him because he released an incredible tribute to legendary Motown producer Norman Withfield a couple of years ago. I was very humbled when he asked me to draw the cover artwork for his new project, a jazz album mixing sampled beats and live instruments, which will be released on vinyl. Jason is currently putting the finishing touch on the recording and mixing of the full-length album. The first single will be a 45 vinyl with two tracks of the project titled "We could be / Empyrean Tones", featuring the works of such great musicians from the L.A. scene as keyboard player Mark de Clive Lowe, Aloe Blacc, drummer Te'Amir Sweeney and trumpet player Keyon Harrold, who played with D'Angelo, Beyonce, Jay Z, Kanye West, and played the trumpet parts in the Miles Davis biopic "Miles Ahead" (to be released in Europe soon).
One of the privileges of being an album cover artist is the fact that I have already had the chance to listen to some other tracks, and I am really excited about the forthcoming release. It will also feature jazz legend Phil Ranelin from the Tribe collective of Detroit, who released many classic spiritual jazz albums on their Tribe independent label in the 70's and 80's (all releases are collectors' items today) and even recorded an album with Detroit Techno legend Carl Craig some years ago.
I am very happy to report that Jason liked my artwork proposals for the album cover. He liked them so much he had a hard time selecting only one illustration and might even be using two different drawings/paintings... To be continued.