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Welcome to My Story! Instructions for use:
1: SCROLL DOWN TO BEGIN
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You can listen to music as you read (press the play button in the bottom right hand corner) and watch the videos that are embedded in some of the pages.
There is a chapter menu in the top right corner which also controls the audio.
Welcome to My Story! Instructions for use:
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There is a chapter menu in the right corner which also controls the audio.
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Welcome to “My Story”: an attempt to show my journey from a teenage maths geek obsessed with music and alternative culture to a fully fledged musician / designer / artist / educator today. I’ve held onto a lot of artefacts over the years including flyers, posters, badges, photographs, press cuttings, cassettes and video tapes: here are the highlights, arranged chronologically with accompanying commentary and soundtrack.
I hope that it will be entertaining for all, but more importantly useful to those attempting a similar transition. Please note that I am so close to the subject matter that I may lack critical objectivity on occasion, for which I apologise in advance.
So let’s begin our journey, friends, by travelling to a strange and far-off land known as “The Eighties.”
LET ME BE THE ONE
And you'll find lots more music down here as we continue!
My fifteen year old self’s bedroom circa 1980.
2: ’80s GIG BOOTLEGS
Cassette covers: 1981/2
For my 16th birthday I got a Sony Walkman with a stereo microphone built into it and I proceeded to bootleg every gig I went to.
These cassette bootlegs obviously needed sleeves and so my first adventures in graphic design began. The only way I had to generate type was on my mum’s dot matrix printer and so my typography choices were already made: once I had printed out the text, the next step was a trip to the school photocopier with scissors, glue and half an idea.
Here are two examples. The 23 Skidoo sleeve superimposes photocopies of their badges over a collage of urban and desert scenes taken from Sunday magazines.
This Postcard double header features photos of the bands taken from the NME and a clever title from me. Cheers.
Being a skint teenager I would also tape my favourite albums and then, as I lusted after their original packaging, attempt to replicate their sleeves myself, applying coloured pencils to the blank cassette inlays. I remember having a crack at copying album sleeves by the Buzzcocks and XTC: sadly, these artefacts have not survived the ravages of time.
23 SKIDOO LIVE ‘81
Playing "The Gospel..." and nailing that punk-funk sound.
ORANGE JUICE LIVE ‘82
Rubbish sound quality but great chat from Edwyn!
Dancing with my little sister at my first DJ gig, her 11th birthday party.
3: RANDOM FACTOR
A fanzine was an inevitable part of being a ’80s teenager into music and politics, and so one night in the pub Random Factor was born, emerging as a collection of articles, stories and art created by me and my mates. We managed to produce 50 copies: the text was laid out as full pages of A4 (again printed on a dot-matrix printer, my aunt’s this time) with images on the reverse, photocopied illegally at my friend and co-conspirator Martin Black’s work after hours and then hand-stapled inside a double sided A3 cover.
I had a lot of fun taking copies round Rough Trade and the like who would display our work alongside other fanzines such as Ripped & Torn and NMX: this made us feel like we had really arrived and that the whole endeavour had been worth it.
The most important thing about Random Factor was the doing of it. We had created something out of nothing and although it didn’t set the world on fire and there was no question of a second issue, we had some favourable responses including an encouraging postcard from Crass and I had felt the power of engaging with the world.
Some years later the aforementioned Martin aka Billy Gruff pointed out that the two lines of rubber stamped text that we found in a skip and then decided to apply to the inside back cover as the final word to our readers (left) saved the whole enterprise, artistically speaking. Fair comment.
ft the Cabs, Chakk, DAF, Thomas Leer, APB, Pulsalama, etc.
Arriving in Edinburgh, 1984.
4: THE SON OF ROCOCO
Posters & flyer: 1985
After a couple of enjoyable but fruitless attempts to be in bands (Spasm, a metal / industrial band that got one review in the NME which blew our minds, and a funky prototype version of Brother Beyond called Frantique with David and Eg White - now that’s a secret I thought I’d take to the grave!) I shifted my creative focus to clubs and DJing, which were still relatively new phenomena in a post-punk world. I got a few gigs in London playing at the Sol Y Sombra, the Diorama and the Titanic but when I left for Edinburgh University at 19 I had to start again and employed the simple tactic of telling everyone I met that I was a DJ.
Somehow these words reached the ears of fellow student Jay Jopling who was starting a club called Rococo, and I became the resident DJ. It was pretty good, but when Rococo ended after a year me and my super cool pal Simon Kilmurry decided to have a crack at club-running ourselves and thus the Son Of Rococo was born.
Our club needed publicity material and I grabbed the opportunity to have a go at designing it. I printed the posters and flyers at Copyart, the punk collective in King’s Cross (there’s more about them in Cynthia King’s seminal book Design After Dark) using colour cartridge photocopiers, similar to today’s Risographs but with looser registration. Older and cooler than me, Copyart’s staff were super helpful and showed me how to get the best from their machines. Here’s my first proper flyer: type cut up from City Limits magazine (thank you Neville), a picture from a book of my Dad’s on sixties housing and some hand-written lettering.
The opening night was a triumph and a life changing experience for me: DJing all night in my own club, I was in heaven. We did another couple of nights and then Simon announced he was moving to New York, so it all ended very quickly. But I had the bug and there was no going back.
ft Jimmy Castor, Prince Charles, Bootsy, Chuck Brown, Roy Ayers etc.
DJing at the Son of Rococo, Wilkie House, Edinburgh, 1985.
Posters & flyers: 1985
Blue was next, a jazz / rare groove club that I ran weekly with Dave and Ronnie, two Edinburgh dudes-about-town. To keep the night fresh I felt we had to have a different flyer every week so I spent a lot of time in the photocopy shop. Being stuck in a one-colour aesthetic for cost reasons was frustrating but it suited the club well.
By this time I had discovered the University’s Apple Mac suite (a bunch of Mac IIs) and was printing out lines of type to re-size on the photocopier which I would then juxtapose with various appropriated photographs. These flyers feature images taken from a catalogue from an exhibition on the Thirties, a collection of photography from Life magazine, the political publication Semiotexte’s German issue (recently reissued) and an old jazz club flyer. The photocopier was my medium: I had no formal design or art training and the possibility of using graphic design software beyond MacPaint was still incomprehensible to me.
Blue ran for a year; it did well but I felt constrained by the genre. It was far too easy to follow what was cool in London (in this case rare groove and acid jazz) and then replicate it up in Edinburgh six months later when they were ready for it. Plus I had discovered eclecticism and was itching to do something different.
Here’s a ninety second excerpt from an hour long VHS tape filmed at Blue itself: my great friend Nat Hunter had borrowed her first video camera from the Psychology department and was excitedly experimenting with it. Note my telephone headphones! It really was the dark ages - those turntables definitely weren’t Technics.
But we still rocked it: you can see the famous “Edinburgh stomp” being performed enthusiastically by several clubbers alongside a young Angus MacFadyen doing something else entirely. Plus Shirley Manson (blink and you’ll miss her), Davie Millar and Philip Pinsky from Fini Tribe and various other Edinburgh faces from the eighties.
HEARD IT ALL MIXTAPE
ft The Bodines (choon!), The Velvets, Gladys Knight, Keith LeBlanc etc.
First appearance of blonde hair, 1985.
Flyers, posters, badges & pass: 1986-8
Thunderball is probably still the best club I have ever run. Once Blue had ended, I teamed up with the lovely Amanda Jones who had done the door there as well as the enigma that is Andrew Nation and we set out to put on a night that was original and fun.
Thunderball launched during the Edinburgh Festival in what was Drummond St Primary School and is now a bunch of flats. It was our response to the too-cool-for-school attitude of other clubs and we worked hard to deliver a host of extras to blow our punters' minds. Projections, pinball machines, game shows, actors in costumes engaging with the audience and lots of giveaways all combined to create a truly immersive and interactive experience. Plus my new super-eclectic DJing style (inspired by Mark Moore dropping Abba at Sacrosanct - see the sleeve notes to my compilation The Triptych in Chapter 19 for the full story) was making some serious waves in Edinburgh clubland.
After the festival ended, we went monthly at Wilkie House which had never been used for a club before and quickly became a phenomenon: there were queues round the block and we were sold out by 9.30pm which in Edinburgh was unheard of. We convinced the city’s musicians (who were all regulars at the club) to put together a series of one-off tribute bands for us, and so such acts as The Disco Sex Classics (disco), The Big Stormers From Hell (heavy metal), Peach County (country and western) and Sosage (new romantic) all graced our stage. In the back room we ran mock TV game shows hosted by Hamish Clark and his glamorous assistant Michelle Jones: punters were recruited to play the parts of celebrities and contestants in re-creations of programmes like Blankety Blank and The Price Is Right, with various alcoholic prizes as reward.
We experimented with a lot of crazy ideas to push the club format forward: bizarrely, most of them worked. And I was DJing all night at the heart of it.
I was determined to push the quality of our publicity as far as I could so three colour posters were standard, all produced on a colour cartridge photocopier. In addition, I was experimenting with other ways to engage our audience. When we first launched we gave away a hundred laminated Access All Areas passes which allowed free entry to the club throughout Thunderball’s existence: the lucky recipients were much envied and showed them off to all their mates on a regular basis. Here’s one that has taken a battering from overuse. The original illustrations are by the great anarchist illustrator Clifford Harper, as is the TV on the first page poster.
We decided to give out a free badge to everyone who came to the club, creating a different design for every night. It was always a frantic rush to make all 600 of them with the student union badge machine on a Saturday morning (the only time we got our act together to do it, of course.) However they were much prized by our punters and were proudly worn around town by many for weeks afterwards as proof of their attendance.
These details were a lot of work but they made all the difference and Thunderball developed a fanatical fanbase as a consequence.
After a year on the Cowgate (during which we were joined by Neil Paterson, who ran the notorious pub Oddfellows and taught me a lot about having fun) we held our breath, took a leap and graduated to the Assembly Rooms, the 19th century ballroom on George Street which is now famous as a festival venue. It was a bold step but we sold out, shifting 2,000 tickets in advance for our Greatest Hits all-nighter. We took all the best bands and ideas that we had discovered over the past year and put them together in one night: it was pretty special but a hard act to follow!
This night marked the occasion of my first litho poster: the design used a display typeface found in Baseline magazine and stuck with the black, red and blue colours I had been using on my photocopied posters.
The follow-up circular poster was a toughie: me and Nat laid out the type by hand with a compass, ruler and calculator (proof below) which took forever, but it looks pretty good IMHO. The concept behind this night was that we would televise the whole thing, filming the night and then broadcasting live and pre-recorded content on screens around the building. We spent a lot of money on equipment hire but the technology wasn’t really up to it back then and the results were mixed: nonetheless, we had a lot of fun playing at running our own TV channel.
Here’s a sample of Thunderball TV: a brief snatch of our version of "The Hitman And Her" (thankfully without sound) followed by a pre-recorded advert for Avalanche Records, both featuring me: the guy by the counter in the ad is a random punter who happened to be in the shop when we were filming and participated in the psychedelic vibe with great enthusiasm. Finally there’s a clip of our version of Treasure Hunt featuring John Fairfoul, Ali White (who was also Her to my Hitman earlier) and Lucy Hoare alongside two bemused punters.
We put a lot of work into making content for the night but ultimately no-one really watched it as they were too busy having a good time. However it was an interesting experiment and as always a lot was learned.
Incidentally I also designed Avalanche’s logo which I think they’re still using thirty years later. That’s value for money! (Except I think they paid me in vinyl.)
As well as regularly selling out the Assembly Rooms we ran nights in Stirling Castle and Murrayfield Ice Rink, becoming notorious for putting on mind-bending all-nighters in amazing venues.
After three years the club came to an abrupt end when it was deliberately targeted by football casuals who started a pre-planned riot on the dancefloor at one of our Assembly Rooms nights. We shut things down quickly before anyone got seriously hurt but it was a major shock: the whole enterprise had been tainted and after some deliberation we decided it was best to move on. Which kinda broke my heart, to be honest, because Thunderball was special. It was the first time I had co-created a truly original vision and seen a large audience of my friends and peers respond to it with love.
STUPID FRESH MIXTAPE
ft Public Enemy, Morrissey, Danielle Dax, Tania Maria etc.
Deep in clubland, 1986.
7: DEVIL MOUNTAIN
Devil Mountain was the cooler cousin of Thunderball and they overlapped for a while. Our major triumph was putting on a series of nights in the Fruitmarket Gallery, an amazing venue that no-one else has used for a club before or since. House music had just exploded so we had house downstairs and everything else upstairs: I played half the night on each floor.
I was incorporating manga, graffiti, comics, vintage trade marks and classic poster art into our publicity and adapting the original elements more and more. I had recently fallen in love with Bodoni: the right-aligned logo linked these posters together and gave me freedom to experiment with the content. Type-setting aside, these posters were designed entirely without a computer and I was pushing the colour cartridge photocopier technology as far as I could. Letraset half tones, rough duotones and various paper stocks combined to create the various effects seen here.
This was the moment when I first began to see graphic design as a real career possibility. Some of the Thunderball publicity had come close to reaching the quality that I aspired to but when I was producing the posters for Devil Mountain I started to feel that something special was going on and that I might have some talent in this area. However the commercial world of illustration, litho printing, process cameras and marking up was still a mystery to me, let alone client handling!
More importantly, watching my friends who worked full time in the design industry I began to realise that there was a lot more that you could do with a Mac than just printing out lines of type to re-size on the photocopier. I had to get my hands on a computer and work out its dark arts for myself.
Here’s my first ever screenprint, a six colour A0 poster made with help from chums at the Edinburgh College of Art. Screenprinting was a revelation to me: after years of being stuck with my colour cartridge photocopier and its restricted options of red, blue and black, suddenly I could use any colour I wanted and make posters that were larger than A3. This was the way forward.
And here’s the hand-screenprinted sweat shirts we made for all our mates working at the club to wear on the night and then to keep as a souvenir. We couldn’t make enough to sell to punters but there were several enquiries! Again, after playing with different colours and positioning of various elements I knew I wanted to explore this medium a whole lot more.
MY FIRST MASH-UPS
Made in 1987 pre-computer with two turntables and a four track.
Cassette cover from Wild Life club, 1988.
8: WILD LIFE
Cassette, poster & pass: 1988-9
Wild Life was a reaction to the acid house boom that had suddenly taken over dance music. Every other club in Edinburgh was jumping on the bandwagon and so we decided to do something different. Wild Life ran on fortnightly Saturdays until 5am in La Belle Angele, a hidden gallery space we discovered off the Cowgate which later became a key Edinburgh venue. It was underground and intimate, stripped back to basics after all the excesses of Thunderball and Devil Mountain. I played funk, disco, R&B and hip-hop all night and people came to dance.
Sadly, not much of the publicity has survived but here are some fragments. The branding is of course a reference to Life magazine and the name has a nice double meaning. Plus the red wheels on the cassettes were a great design fluke!
WILD LIFE MIXTAPE
Expansions could still well be the greatest record ever made.
Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes LP sleeve, 1990.
9: FUNNY MAN
Posters & record sleeves: 1989-90
Once I left university it seemed to make sense to start a graphic design company. I set up shop with a Compaq 386 PC and a colour cartridge photocopier in a room above Fini Tribe’s recording studio under the name Funny Man. Amanda and Neil loyally accompanied me at first but pretty soon I was on my own with an onerous photocopier contract and a few leftfield clients from the world of clubs and music.
I had no idea what I was doing and even if I had there was very little market for it in Edinburgh but it was a steep learning curve and more valuable experience was gained.
Kevin Buckle and Andrew Tully at Avalanche Records became one of my main clients. They were fans of my club posters and first asked me to make them some gig posters (I appropriated a great photo by Cindy Sherman for this one) and then to design my first record sleeves.
Once again I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but leapt into the fray with gay abandon. There were a few car crashes but also some bullseyes began to emerge and slowly I got my head around working in full colour.
With the help of the legendary Enterprise Allowance scheme I managed to keep Funny Man going for a couple of years but as a business it wasn’t sustainable. However, this was clearly the way forward and I began to look around for my next step.
MY BLUE CAR MIXTAPE
ft Lil’ Louis, Sidney Devine, The Go-Betweens, Laurel & Hardy etc.
The back cover of issue two of Gear Magazine, London, 1990.
While I was running clubs in Edinburgh, back home my sister Camilla Deakin had just finished a journalism course and was throwing herself head first into the brave new world of acid house. After a revelatory weekend clubbing with her in London I suggested that we start up a fanzine together focusing on this emerging scene. Our intention was to create a response to Boy’s Own (who were pretty much running the scene at the time with their legendary fanzine and club nights) and to develop my graphic and her journalistic skills in the process.
Cheeky, colourful and full of humour, Gear was like Smash Hits for ravers. I produced the first issue on my poor old photocopier which managed 600 copies before it broke under the pressure. My primary colour aesthetic worked well for the day glo culture we were documenting and both of us enjoyed writing in the “get right on one matey” style that our readers loved so.
Gear’s graph pages were our big hit: it turned out that applying information graphics to acid house was just what everyone had been waiting for. Needless to say the relevant data had been gathered somewhat informally, but the end results made people smile and were much imitated at the time.
After the success of the first issue we decided to scale up and the next two issues were litho printed. This was great for my printing experience but I missed the hand-made texture of photocopied colour ink on paper. Nonetheless I strived as always to make the publication as unique and as tactile as possible. The second issue had an see-through acetate circle stuck onto the cover with stars and glitter behind it inside a die-cut circle, mimicking a snowstorm effect. It was very labour intensive to assemble (of course we did it ourselves) and many a record shop had glitter all over their floor as a result.
Gear was sweatily embraced by its audience and it was also a critical success. The mainstream media wrote several articles about us and Camilla got a job at The Face where she became queen of acid house: I also ended up writing their record reviews for many years afterwards. But most of all it was a whole lot of fun - being part of this scene was very exciting, and of course it was so nice to be working with my sister.
’90s HOUSE MIXTAPE
ft Masters At Work, Joey Negro, The RASE, Gypsymen, D-Bora etc
Misery, Edinburgh, 1992.
Posters & flyer: 1991-94
Ah, Misery. Where to begin? For some years I’d been discussing the concept of an anti-cool club night with Edinburgh legend Murray McKean. The idea occured to us of putting on the worst club night that there ever was or ever could be, in the tradition of Reggie Perrin’s Grot shops. Thus Misery was born. Sorry.
We found the perfect venue, a bar in the basement of Waverley Shopping Centre that was truly appalling. Unfortunately I was taken ill on the opening night which then had to be cancelled, and so I was able to use one of my favourite strap lines on this poster for our eventual first night, originally from the film Trancers concerning a gentleman called Jack De’ath.
These posters were photocopied onto tracing paper so that when we flyposted them you could still see the other posters of our rival clubs underneath. As I always say, it’s those little touches that make all the difference.
We managed two Thursday nights at Darcy’s before the bar manager threw us out; he even phoned us up the week afterwards to make absolutely sure we knew we weren’t on that night, or indeed any other. Fortunately there were still a couple of other Edinburgh venues prepared to welcome us. Joined by Murray’s flatmate Andy Blundel and a small but fiercely dedicated gang of reprobates, we soldiered on.
By this time we had started to gain some notoriety. DJ Magazine, i-D and The Face all did features on us and Pete Tong gave us a shout out on Radio One which was most amusing.
Eventually we found our spiritual home in The Cooler, a basement below the famous Edinburgh Venue which held about 200 people and was licensed until 5am. Hardcore carnage ensued every night we were on and we settled in for a fortnightly two year run where we could really have some fun (or anti-fun, to be precise.)
Various methods were used to deliver a bad time to our punters, which they stubbornly refused to have. Flyers were handed out allowing the bearer to pay a pound extra if they showed them at the door (which people proudly did.) We also took great pleasure in charging students and members extra to get in.
Inside, the club was littered with old mattresses, fridges and other assorted debris. Murray would insist that people did the house work, providing hoovers and ironing boards for them to do so. “No one likes it, but it’s got to be done,” he would tell them as they tried in vain to politely decline his offer. We put raw onions on the dancefloor so that the more people danced, the more they cried.
What made Misery such a joy for me (other than the loyal punters whom I loved dearly, disgusting deviants though they were) were the themes. At some point we decided to have a different theme every night and our warped imaginations came up with some crackers, which I then had the pleasure of communicating in poster format. Here are a few of them.
Vietnam Night consisted of filling the club with a bunch of tyres that we found in the street, Murray whispering “Saigon” and the like into the microphone every few minutes, and the smoke machine left on full blast all night. It was a three-floor venue and we were in the basement: the promoters running the club upstairs came down to protest that there was so much smoke coming up through the floor into their area that their punters couldn’t see anything. I can’t remember if any bona fide “vets” came along that night but if they did then they certainly deserved their half price discount.
Rezerection was a notorious mega-rave night held in the soulless Ingliston Exhibition Centre which we regarded as pretty dodgy: this was our parody version. There were plenty of terrible rave records available for me to play which were somehow very enjoyable to dance to. I have to confess that I am very pleased with the copy on this poster which still makes me laugh.
As well as punters dressed up as doctors and nurses, the application of many bandages and swallowing of much medicine, Murray actually did end up in A&E at the end of this night for genuine reasons. I think he cut his stomach open on a rusty fridge door while trying to dismantle it. His dedication to his craft was truly inspiring.
We cast the net far and wide in our search for new themes. This one was a bit of a stretch but our regulars embraced it with their usual enthusaism: plastic firearms and mock drug paraphernalia were provided and much playfighting then ensued.
This night was the beginning of something much bigger: again, at the time I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was to play soft rock anthems all night. Lots of head banging, air guitars and denim.
Not for the faint hearted, this one. I played love songs and slow dances for about two hours non-stop and half of the punters went home, but afterwards, when I put on the first uptempo track, it was like VE Day; the joy and camaraderie generated as a result of surviving this sustained onslaught of power ballads was really quite something.
A simple concept - no hat, no entry. The poster’s profanity refers to the fact that Edinburgh Council had decided in their infinite wisdom that no-one should be allowed to move between different nightspots after 1.30am and had introduced a curfew to enforce this. What a very stupid idea.
And occasionally we ran out of ideas. That’s Murray on the left and me on the right.
At Misery’s peak we were featured on Channel 4’s legendary TV programme The Word: we also ventured down to London for a one-off bash at the Milk Bar which was very amusing, as well as nights in Glasgow’s Sub Club and Aberdeen’s Pelican. But the Edinburgh version was where the format really excelled and many regulars still speak wistfully of a reunion night which thankfully has never happened.
Here’s a short piece of footage from late night TV programme The Big E which was filmed at Misery’s London debut at the Milk Bar and somehow manages to capture the club’s unique atmosphere very well. See if you can spot our specially manufactured T-shirts: the poster on the wall behind Arthur Smith towards the end is also a personal highlight. Many apologies for the badly pixelated nudity.
with a Radio One news story on us followed by Shakey and pals.
Arriving at CSM, London, 1994.
12: ART SCHOOL
Calendar, posters & cereal packets: 1993-4
I loved running my crazy club nights and creating the concepts and visuals behind them but it clearly wasn’t a long term career plan. Developing my design skills seemed like the best alternative and so after the failure of Funny Man I decided that art school was the way forward. Initially I applied to the RCA but I clashed with one of the tutors in my interview: he recommended the cartoonist Richard Crumb and I made the mistake of correcting him after which things went rapidly downhill.
Here’s part of my unsuccessful RCA application. The brief was “Famous Last Words”: I came up with this calendar combining illustration with typography and printed several copies on my photocopier. This was the first in a long series of calendars: I produced one for Going Places and then for Airside every year from then until 2012.
Fortunately Central Saint Martins was more welcoming and my portfolio of club flyers and fanzines was deemed good enough to admit me onto their MA Graphic Design course. The experience was challenging and varied: perhaps the most valuable thing I discovered was how different my skill set was to the rest of my fellow designers.
I embraced the college facilities, developing my screen-printing skills to expand my range of poster making possibilities. This homage to Kylie was my first finished piece. I was so proud of it I nearly sent her one - in hindsight I should’ve done.
The subject of my MA was magazines and the hypothetical formats that they might take. My central project was this series of eight mini cereal packets representing each element of a magazine that came together to form a "variety pack."
On the following pages you can see the flat versions of each box. They were screen-printed at Edinburgh Printmaker’s Workshop where I developed my technique further. Freed from the constraints of my photocopier I had a lot of fun exploring this medium, using gradients, metallic inks, and every unusual device I could find.
ft Postive K, Paul Haig, Maze, The Rutles, The Other Two etc.
Poster for Cheese club, London, 1996.
Posters & flyers: 1994-6
Once I had moved back to London it was inevitable that I would start a club there. I had recently become obsessed with the music of Herb Alpert and easy listening in general, buying mountains of charity shop vinyl wherever I went. Part of the fun was having a new and affordable musical haystack to comb through: the funk, soul and jazz genres had already been extensively mined by others but there were plenty of fresh nuggets to be found here.
Cheese was the result: run with my fellow CSM students David Law and Jimmy Adams in a small room above a pub in Camden Town, it quickly received more press attention than any of my more spectacular nights in Edinburgh. Such is the media-friendly nature of metropolitan life.
I had taken my colour cartridge photocopier down to London with me and producing these posters was its last hurrah. Looking back on them I’m very fond of their analogue feel but at the time I was frustrated with the medium’s loose registration and streaky solids. Nonetheless as a print resource my photocopier did the job nicely and having to produce fortnightly posters alongside my college work kept my graphic chops in order.
We peaked with this one-off night at the 1,000 capacity Gresham Ballroom, an incredible vintage dancehall in Archway with a revolving stage, now converted to flats of course. One of the personal highlights of my career is standing on this stage, playing the theme from Camberwick Green (“here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play”) and saluting to the audience as it slowly turned to reveal the Mike Flowers Pops ready to begin their set.
After that we explored a few other venues before calling it a day. Here’s our venture into the city district: “full fax facilities” were indeed available on the night. The photo was originally from an office furniture catalogue and once again the copy still pleases me.
ft Chico Arnez, Tony Christie, Andy Williams, Chaquito etc.
My desk at Swifty’s studio, Ladbroke Grove, 1996.
Magazine spreads, CD & record sleeves: 1995-7
My time at Central Saint Martins taught me many things, one of which was how much I still had to learn about working in the design industry. An informal apprenticeship was my solution and after showing my portfolio to over forty different companies I finally got a job as a junior designer at Ian Swift’s studio. He was based just off Hoxton Square back when the only reason to go there was the Blue Note club. I was his sole employee for most of my time there and as a result I witnessed the entire commercial design process first hand, from client handling to print production. I also abandoned my PC and began to master an Apple Mac.
Swifty is an amazing designer and it was a fantastic education just to watch him work. Alongside more menial tasks I was also given many CD and record sleeves to work on and had a lot of freedom to develop my own ideas.
Every other month I helped Swifty with his favourite project, the jazz magazine Straight No Chaser. This was great for my page layout, type and photo composition skills. Here’s one of my spreads that echoes the movement of the mambo dancers in type.
Around this time I discovered my vector illustration style which was developed as a graphic identity for my club posters. I also used it for this Chaser gallery spread where I was commissioned to create a piece on any musical theme of my choosing. I went for a group portrait of my favourite hip-hop artists from back in the day.
Towards the end of my time there, Swifty attempted to expand the operation, working with his business manager Paul Tully (who later founded the agency PD3). This team’s big hit was the Fosters Ice Street Art campaign which was undoubtedly the first example of “Street Art” gaining recognition in this country. Futura 2000, Mode 2 and a host of other graffiti artists created one-off billboards across the country and the campaign won a Media Week award.
Here’s a photo from the launch party for the Edinburgh leg which I curated. It was held in New Street car park next to the station (guess what, it’s now flats) and you can see my billboard among the crowd. I’d always wanted to put on an event in this car park, having spotted it when venue-hunting for my Edinburgh clubs. It was touch and go on the night as we weren’t licensed properly and the police inevitably checked us out: however Tully managed to sweet talk them into leaving us to it and it ended up being a hell of a party.
As Swifty would be the first to acknowledge, at the end of the day he didn’t really want to run a design studio or deal with employees, and although a great crew came together towards the end (Robi Bear, Kam, Mitch, Mode 2 and others) his heart wasn’t really in it and the operation steadily downsized.
However, I was watching closely and could see the potential of a larger studio set-up as well as some of the pitfalls: consequently the seeds of the Airside project were firmly planted in my mind.
Here’s a twenty second taste of what life was like at Swifty’s studio, featuring Swifty behind the camera, me complaining in a semi-ironic fashion and a camera shy Robi Bear.
HALF STEPPIN’ MIXTAPE
ft Mary J Blige, Patrice Rushen, Doug E Fresh, Mica Paris etc.
Going Places exhibition, Edinburgh, 1999.
15: GOING PLACES
Posters & flyers: 1995-9
Going Places was the Edinburgh easy listening club that Murray, Andy and I happily ran for five years. Named after the great Herb Alpert album, it was a much classier affair than Misery or Cheese mainly because of the incredible venue that we had found: the ABC Cinema on Lothian Road. Their bar was a masterclass in seventies interior design and the decor of the upstairs lobby where we put the dancefloor was equally glittery. The cinema manager loved what we were doing and helped us to book appropriately retro films to show in their main screen during the night. Add Gregor and Calverto’s karaoke experience downstairs by the ticket office and a good time was guaranteed for all.
One of the keys to our success was the screenprinted A1 posters that I produced for each night. I was determined not to return to the photocopier and instead spent the two days before the club screenprinting the posters at Edinburgh Printmaker’s Workshop in editions of 15. These were then given to bar managers around Edinburgh as gifts if they would agree to display them prominently in their establishments for the two weeks running up to the club.
Although we litho-printed A2 posters and flyers for wider use, it was the screenprinting medium that inspired me to create Going Places’ aesthetic. Each year I collected all the poster images together into a calendar which we gave away to everyone who came to the club on New Year’s Eve.
Going Places gathered a fiercely loyal crowd who supported us faithfully as we explored a range of exotic venues around Edinburgh. As well as the ABC Cinema we also put on nights in the Assembly Rooms, the old Post Office on Waterloo Place, the Royal Terrace Casino, Hill Street Masonic Lodge, Butlins WonderWestWorld and the Becks Spiegeltent. It was definitely one of my most enjoyable clubbing adventures.
Here are two movies about Going Places. The first two minute film was made by STV when the club announced its closure: we held an exhibition featuring all the artwork from the club and they interviewed me there, followed by some vox pops from punters at the last night at the ABC Cinema.
This is a much more evocative film that, for me, really captures the spirit of Going Places, although it is probably of little interest if you didn’t attend the club yourself. I had the idea of filming many of our punters as possible with a Super 8 camera, intending to project the footage inside the club at a later date. That never happened but here’s the edited film, taken on festival firework night at the Beck’s Speigeltent in 1998. You can see me shaking my stuff at around 4.10.
The soundtrack to this film is a compilation of three of my demos from 2006: they were the first pieces of music I made post Lemon Jelly and have never been commercially released.
GOING PLACES MIXTAPE
ft Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Nelson Riddle, Sergio Mendes etc.
Impotent Fury at the 333, London, 2000.
16: IMPOTENT FURY
Flyers & press cuttings: 1998-2000
By the late nineties Hoxton had gradually become the centre of all things hip but the nightlife hadn’t really kept pace. My old chum Laura Lees had recently moved down to London and taken the fashion world by storm: she was a fan of my more adventurous Edinburgh club nights and persuaded me to launch something similar to show the Shoreditch scenesters what could be done with a little imagination.
Impotent Fury was the result. At its heart was the Wheel of Destiny, a giant spinning wheel with twelve varied musical genres written on it. Every half an hour the legendary Super Soaraway Sally Findlay span it and I then had to play whichever genre had come up for the next thirty minutes. Lurching from drum & bass to eighties pop was a lot of fun and it also gave me a chance to explore corners of my record collection that I wouldn’t normally use for DJing.
Another regular feature was the Wardrobe of the Stars, a dressing up booth filled with vintage clothes and a live video camera positioned so that punters trying on clothes would be shown on a screen above the dancefloor. Inevitably this brought out the exhibitionist streak in people and cross dressing was a common occurance, not to mention the occasional flasher.
The flyers were a chance to evolve my vector style and push it into some darker places. The club’s success was a great launch pad for Airside and Lemon Jelly: it also gave old friends the Cuban Brothers their first London gig (see flyer on the right).
This flyer caused quite a sensation: each of the fry-up ingredients were die-cut stickers and the implication of the empty plate was that you should remove them and create your own composition onto the blank canvas provided. However, the caption on the bottom right was a hint that there were other possibilities and a lot of Shoreditch pubs were very unhappy with us that weekend.
Here are two articles about the club. This one from The Face focuses on the Wardrobe of the Stars and the cross-dressing that it inspired. Nice pictures - I wonder where those guys are now.
And here’s a four star review from the Guardian newspaper. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a club reviewed in the Guardian before or since and the journalist captures the spirit of the night well. I wish I had met Dogan - he sounds like my kind of punter.
Finally here’s a pretty random three minute movie from the night itself. The Wardrobe of the Stars footage was of course filmed for displaying live on a screen over the dancefloor but Nat (who was camerawoman that night) also managed to capture me DJing and several instances of the wheel spinning (which always took place to the Theme from Robinson Crusoe.) Again, probably only of interest if you were there, but I recommend checking out the two cross dressing blokes being caught in flagranti at 2.30 if you feel so inclined. In hindsight I did shout a lot - sorry!
HERE IT IS MIXTAPE
ft Peter Cook, Shirley Ellis, Steve Miller, Florence, etc.
Airside’s founders, London, 1999.
After leaving Swifty’s I worked as a solo freelancer for a while but found it pretty unsatisfying. It was hard to move beyond being just a lone gun for hire and I missed sharing a space with like-minded folk. Nat Hunter had visited me at Swifty’s and also seen the possibilities of a group set-up: she knew Alex Maclean from her time at the RCA and he was interested in getting involved so together we took the plunge and decided to start up our own studio.
Initially Airside was simply a nice place for us to do our freelance work in: however when we began to collaborate on projects under our new group identity we immediately gained more status in the eyes of our clients. My previous experiences had taught me how to engage an audience directly, and I trusted that demonstrating our ability to do that would attract the kind of work we were after and give us access to the best commissions on our own terms. Consequently, alongside the public profile of Lemon Jelly and Impotent Fury, the Airside calendar and T-shirt club were crucial ingredients in our early success.
The Airside calendars were a continuation of my club calendars and became an annual event in the design world: they were a collection of our best work that year accompanied by some suitably random copy from me. They were a great PR tool and we got a lot of work by having them hanging on our clients walls. Here’s a spread from the Gestalten book Airside By Airside (2009) that shows a selection of calendar spreads and formats from over the years.
The Airside T-shirt Club was another annual event: we would invite three of our favourite designers to contribute a design and I would also come up with one: these four t-shirts were only available as a set, arriving through your letterbox once a month over the summer at your door with no advance warning of what the design would be. In return for our audience’s trust we guaranteed that the designs would never be available anywhere else or re-printed.
Here’s another spread from Airside by Airside that shows most of the T-shirt Club designs from its ten year span.
And here’s a flyer from 2007 that explains the T-shirt Club concept in more detail. Every year we sold over a hundred subscriptions in advance and ran the club for ten years. I would regularly arrive at summer music festivals and identify a number of Airside fans proudly wearing their new shirts who I would then say hello to: it was a great way of building community.
We adopted the vector style that I had evolved over the course of designing publicity for my clubs as Airside’s signature aesthetic, and things took off very rapidly from there. Here’s three of my illustrations from the short lived re-launch of Nova magazine in the early noughties.
In my humble opinion (please insert this phrase at the start of every page from here on in as necessary) Airside was the first truly multi-disciplinary design studio to emerge after the birth of the digital world and consequently we were perceived as specialists in one of a range of different practices depending on how people discovered us. As one of the first web companies we created sites for the Serpentine, the Hayward, the White Cube, the RCA and many others. We also kicked off the current illustration boom that has yet to run out of steam, and soon applied our style to animation, producing moving image for music videos and TV ads. The T-Shirt Club and our shop website meant that some people thought we were either an online T-shirt company or a toy manufacturer, and the club nights alongside the association with Lemon Jelly meant that we regularly received commissions for events and installations.
And guess what? That suited me just fine.
Working across all media rather than focusing on one particular discipline was a bold and somewhat risky strategy at that time. However we saw that operating as a multi-disciplinary team would enable us to explore the emerging opportunities of the internet alongside our experimental real world projects, and would also fulfill us individually by enabling us to grow as practitioners. We spent a lot of energy creating a studio culture that genuinely encouraged collaboration through an honest exchange of ideas and opinions.
As the studio grew we did our best to foster an atmosphere of trust within the studio: complete creative freedom and full access to clients for all employees was the norm. Our belief was that a flat hierarchy is a prerequisite for producing great work: no designer is going to give their best to a company if they are simply an operator being constantly over-ruled by an art director and have no personal stake in the job.
Our goal was to make work truly enjoyable both for us and our employees, not just as a lifestyle choice but as a business engine, and on the whole I believe we succeeded.
Slowly we expanded our staff as the clients and awards began to stack up. Suddenly we were a team of twelve full time employees plus a wide network of freelancers, producing enormous projects for corporates like Virgin Atlantic and the BBC alongside more cutting edge work for our smaller clients and experimental products for our own online shop.
This diagram from Airside By Airside shows how the team grew over our first ten years. We had a pretty high staff retention rate which I always think is a good measure of a company’s integrity. Either that or we locked them all in the basement.
Our reputation steadily grew and one day we found ourselves at the top of the industry. Somehow throughout this period we managed to keep our culture intact and a powerful creative community emerged.
Airside’s success was undoubtedly only possible because of the hard work and dedication of everyone who worked with us. We were lucky enough to find some amazingly talented people and sensible enough to empower them to create great work. Many of them have since gone on to major success in their own right which makes me very proud. There’s a full list in the Airside book and on our website here. Thank you Airside crew - you rock!
Airside was too close to perfection to be sullied by compromise and after fourteen years of extraordinary success the three of us realised we had achieved all our initial goals and were now more interested in pursuing various new personal ambitions. After much soul-searching we decided to close the company. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life but it was also the right one, and a very “Airside” thing to do.
The reaction to the announcement of our closure was enormous and we were number two topic on London’s Twitter for a few days (the Olympics were number one.) We threw an epic closing party (the last in a great series!) and ended the whole enterprise with a bang not a whimper.
We made a lot of fantastic work and I am proud of our legacy: many of today’s great creative companies seem to have been inspired by us, just as we were inspired in our turn by those before us. But I am prouder still of Airside’s culture, described perfectly by one of our ex-employees Richard Hogg in this blog post. Thanks Dick.
There’s a lot more about Airside in the previously mentioned Gestalten book Airside By Airside (2009) which has interviews with our staff and clients and in-depth features on the major projects from our first ten years.
And finally here’s a edited compilation of three films made about Airside over the years: the first a profile by Apple in 2007, the second by Gestalten to celebrate the publication of the book and the last by Computer Arts which was made when we had announced our impending closure.
I do miss Airside! But I have no regrets. Sniff.
A TUNE FOR AIRSIDE
and not a piece of music I once made for one of our clients. Oh no.
Lemon Jelly live at 93 Feet East, London, 2002.
18: LEMON JELLY
Record sleeves & other artefacts: 1998-2005
And so we come to the Jelly, the project for which I am probably best known. While I was at Swifty’s I had been experimenting with various music software packages and had realised that this was an area I was keen to explore further, preferably in partnership with a kindred spirit. One night I was talking about this to an old pal (thanks Will!) who suggested that our mutual friend Nick Franglen would be a perfect partner in crime for such an endeavour. I remembered Nick from my teenage years when he had briefly dated my sister: since then he had become a master of all things musical and as luck would have it his studio was around the corner from me in Kentish Town.
Initially the concept was to use the enormous amount of junk shop vinyl that I had accumulated as a sample source for new tracks, but very quickly our personalities found a common ground and we discovered a sound all of our own.
Our first track “In The Bath” came together very quickly and it became clear to both of us that our partnership was worth exploring further. We decided to put the track out on vinyl and over the next couple of years released three ten inch EPs that were well received by critics and punters alike. I spent a lot of time on the packaging of these records trying to create the ultimate vinyl artifacts. The sleeves were hand screen-printed on thick cardboard and featured gatefolds, cut-outs, embossing and metallic inks.
Our logo appeared on the front cover of the first EP but after that I decided to have no type anywhere on the outside of our sleeves in order to create the most pure object I could: consequently the artwork itself had to have a strong individual style, so that despite the lack of logo you would still know it was by Lemon Jelly. (That logo you see on the top left EP sleeve is only revealed through the die-cut hole when you take the record out of the sleeve.)
We signed to XL Recordings in 2000 and put out a compilation of the three EPs as the album lemonjelly.ky. My challenge was to create a mass manufactured package that had the same desirability of our limited edition EPs. I used my flat colour style and gradients to mimic the screenprinting process: thick cardboard, gatefolds and cutouts also helped. Despite literally no advertising the album went gold.
As we became more successful our music was used on TV and several tracks from the album got a lot of radio airplay. Radio One told us that if we released our track The Staunton Lick as a single they would put it on their playlist, but we felt it was best to move forward to newer material and politely declined.
We pulled out all the stops for our proper debut album, Lost Horizons. The artwork for the gatefold sleeve is generated by a 3D model created with colleague Sam Burford: it’s intended to illustrate the point that in the daytime the countryside is exciting and the city is dull but at nighttime the reverse is the case.
Here’s the artwork for the inner sleeves. We used various camera angles on the 3D model to generate the different landscapes shown here. What are those kids looking at?
This is the storyboard for the video that we made for Nice Weather For Ducks, the second single from Lost Horizons. The original concept was that the words repeated throughout the song by the tramp that we meet on a park bench at the beginning of the video are in fact the meaning of life.
The actor playing the tramp was quite a character. His CV said he had played Shakespeare but on closer examination it turned out that his role had been that of a corpse. In short he was a bit of a blagger but he gave it his all, especially in the dancing scenes.
It was very odd to walk into my local tube station and find this poster on the platform. All the quotes are 100% genuine, even the last two.
Lost Horizons was our most successful album and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, which was definitely a career high. This short film shows our animated acceptance video featuring a reworked version of Ramblin’ Man created specially for the occasion, followed by me and Nick getting our award from John Cale. We agonised over our speech for ages but I think it came out pretty well in the end.
After Lost Horizons we released the Soft Rock seven inch bootleg which sampled Chicago and the Black Crowes. The sleeves were made from old pairs of jeans and stitched by our good pal, the wonderful Laura Lees. Each sleeve had a pocket into which we placed a lemon flavoured condom.
This is one of five sleeves that Laura hand-embroidered as special editions. The phrase “x1000 you bastard” could well be a reference to the number of sleeves she had to stitch. I did warn her!
The Soft Rock bootleg was a big hit and got played a lot on radio and in clubs. It was also probably the beginning of soft rock’s rehabilitation as a musical genre (or so Mojo magazine said in 2013.)
Here’s the video for Soft. This version of the track is a more ambient edit: the footage is generated by flying a camera around the Lost Horizons 3D landscape model.
By now it was about time to put a live show together. We had a lot of visual material to draw on alongside my years of club running experience, and so we set out to create an appropriately unique performance.
Interaction was at the heart of a Lemon Jelly show. Our first three gigs at 93 Feet East featured “t-shirt tickets” that had to be worn for entry: as a result the crowd formed a repeating pattern that echoed our album artwork. Subsequently we had bingo, a treasure hunt and various game show formats appearing as our support, and of course an orgy of visuals when we took to the stage.
At the end of our last UK tour we put on a kid’s Saturday Matinee at the Forum. As a child I used to go there every week on a Saturday morning back when it was a cinema so it felt very appropriate to bring this crowd back there. It was a unique event, to say the least!
As well as two sell-out UK tours and one European tour we played most major music festivals, and once we got our groove on I’d say we rocked every one of the crowds we played to. Headlining the Big Chill to 25,000 people was our biggest gig, and Somerset House was probably my favourite.
Our third and final album was ‘64-’95 which took the Soft Rock concept and expanded it into an album. Each track featured a prominent sample which took us to some interesting places musically but was a legal nightmare.
Instead of conventional music videos we created an hour long animated DVD to accompany the album. Here’s the trailer featuring a fantastic voice over by John Hallam (he also appeared on Day One) and a very silly script by me.
Our last gig together was at the iMax in Waterloo as Deakin & Franglen: we created an all-new hour long show for the BFI’s Optronica Festival.
The music and animation from that show has never been commercially released but this film features a series of short extracts from four of the tracks. The full performance was as good as anything we ever did: a fitting finale to the Lemon Jelly project.
I’m very proud of what me and Nick achieved in our time together: we were a powerful creative partnership and remain close friends to this day. It’s also good zen looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing the project fade into history. Here are some more artefacts from that period.
i.e. B-sides and other obscurities. Our fourth album, kinda!
Cover art from The Triptych, 2007
CD sleeves & press cuttings: 2007-2008
In 2007 Alex MacNutt from Family Recordings approached me about doing one of the Trip compilations: Tom Middleton and Saint Etienne had put together previous volumes and I seized the opportunity to join such illustious company. Over-ambitious as ever, I set out to make the ultimate compilation that would convert the world to my super eclectic style.
The Triptych was the result. I had told Alex that I wanted to go for 100 tracks over the three CDs: he foresaw major clearance problems with this ambition and limited me to “between twenty and thirty tracks per CD.” I didn’t break the rules but the final tally of ninety certainly took it to the limit!
The album was a year in the making and I was converted to digital mix-making in the process.
Back in the day I had rehearsed for weeks before performing each of the legendary Lemon Jelly Breezeblock mixes for Mary-Anne Hobbs’ Radio One show live in their studio on three turntables. The process certainly added to the authenticity of those sets but the new creative possibilities that emerged when compiling a mix in Ableton were too good to resist.
I wrote a lengthy set of sleeve notes to accompany the package, using each track to inspire a series of auto-biographical nuggets that would give my rampant eclecticism some context. For me this was almost the most enjoyable part of the project and I got a taste for self-expression which some might suggest has not yet been fully satiated.
Here’s a review from the Guardian (plus a plug on their front page - very exciting!) which captures the project well. It was a great relief when I realised that I’d managed to successfully express my passion for cross genre musical exploration and that somebody (thanks Rob!) really got what I was trying to do.
My next release was Nu Balearica in 2008 with Ministry of Sound. It was the first compilation to focus on the post-disco sound emerging from Europe and particularly Scandanavia, bringing Lindstrom, Prins Thomas and Todd Terje together alongside many of their peers. It was a very different undertaking putting together a one-genre set and I learned a lot as always. Mixmag made it their album of the month and its success helped begin the steady rise of this sound to become the powerhouse it is today.
With the artwork my intention was to combine colour gradients from nature and abstract patterns to convey the evolution of the more traditional balearic vibes with its organic warmth into this new flavour that has integrated a Northern European element.
TRIPTYCH DISC 4
ft Jackie Wilson, The Carpenters, Material, Creedence, Stereolab etc.
Audience interacting with Electricity Comes From Other Planets, 2012.
In 2006 Airside was invited by Liverpool’s Walker Gallery to create an installation for the Liverpool Biennial. It was an opportunity for us to engage with a real world audience in a new context and we leapt at the chance.
We came up with the idea of creating a psychedelic forest where various surreal creatures would play games with you if you asked them nicely. Using light sensors, back projection, animation and music we created an interactive world, installed it inside an enormous packing case and then dropped it somewhat brutally into this traditional Victorian museum.
Here’s a movie that shows the installation being prototyped and constructed (special thanks to Matt Brown and Guy Moorhouse!) as well as some of the many possible interactions.
Leaving Insyde behind was another new experience: in the past I had been more used to seeing an audience’s reaction first hand and, even though the Walker Gallery extended our run, I wondered how the people of Liverpool had actually reacted to the work. That summer I was sitting in a pub in Devon when a woman with red hair came up to me and asked me if I had been responsible for the piece. She then told me how her class of autistic children had been mesmerised by the work and had spent hours inside Insyde, playing with all the animals and exploring every area of the world. Suddenly all our hard work seemed justified.
In 2012 La Gaite Lyrique in Paris commissioned me to create an installation for their art-game exhibition Joue Le Jeu. After Insyde I was keen to continue experimenting with interactive content, feeling that the digital era deserved a richer and more innovative medium for music and visuals. Electricity Comes From Other Planets was the result, produced in collaboration with the extremely talented team of Marek Bereza, Nat Hunter and James Bulley.
By projection mapping onto a series of geometric sculptures we generated a more organic immersive environment without using traditional screens, thus avoiding a hypnotic cinema-style effect. As the audience moved within the space, individual “planets” were triggered to send forth music and animation: as the interactions combined across planets the content became more intense and ultimately secret “cookie” states were revealed.
Here’s a great film made by Drew Cox that shows how the final piece came together. We really nailed it and in the process I realised that this innovative way to engage an audience with music and visuals was a natural evolution of my creative process.
In 2013 I took on the post of Professor of Interactive Digital Arts at the University of Arts London, the institution that encompasses the six London colleges of Central Saint Martins, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion, Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon. The role is half time so I have plenty of time for other projects and there’s lots of possibility for exciting collaborations. The late great Bill Moggridge once said that he spent the first third of his career creating design, the second managing design and the third teaching design. Sounds good to me!
Here’s a clip from Simon Witter’s excellent London Calling documentary featuring me at CSM talking about the relationship between music and art school.
One of the perks of working at UAL is access to their amazing facilities, and in 2015 I put on an exhibition at CSM’s Lethaby Gallery in King’s Cross. I created an installation that uses human voices to further explore the interactions I had discovered in my previous pieces and turned the gallery into a real (apologies) cathedral of sound.
Here’s another film by the amazing Paul Wyatt that shows the installation in action. Many thanks to the talented team that made this happen including Louis Mustill, Will Young and all at Artists & Engineers, Bowers & Wilkins, Those, James Bulley, Nat Hunter, Will Young, Roberto Angrisani, Ruby Barker, Michael Demarco, Jason Singh and Cecilia Stalin.
my take on an obscure Human League track
So that’s the story of how I fulfilled all my teenage dreams as well as a bunch of other ambitions I didn’t know I had. I’m still looking for the next way to blow people’s minds and my own in the process, but taking this trip down memory lane has reminded me of how much fun I had and what an important ingredient that fun was.
Perhaps that is the key to my next project: more fun! Yes, I will spend a month documenting my fun levels and turn the data into an interactive information graphics installation that tours the country and helps people access their own enjoyment. No - wait - it’s all about fruit! That’s it! An enormous bowl of fruit that you can climb into (exits stage left muttering to himself...)
DOMMUNE DJ SET
live from Tokyo Sept 2013. It starts out mellow and builds...