The form that the “album” has taken has evolved over the decades: we’ve had vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs, digital downloads. Through all these iterations, one constant has been the cover art. Even on our digital downloads and streams, we still get to view the cover art on our device when a song is playing. Today’s episode is going to solve one of the mysteries of the universe – Why are some of these album covers so bizarre?!
My guest today is graphic artist Darin Leach. Darin was formerly a composer and producer for film trailer companies. He switched his skillset to digital artwork and graphic design after seeing a need in the industry for quality album artwork. Since then, Darin has worked with world renowned film trailer companies, composers, musicians, and audio software companies.
- The inspiration for this episode topic (shoutout to Ricky!).
- Possible reasons for bizarre album covers:
- Shock value
- Inside joke
- Other reasons behind cover artwork:
- Compatible with the intent of artist (do they want it to be licenseable? If so, cover art probably needs to indicate/be in line with the music of the album)
- Capture the feel of the album music, represent the musical style
- Invite curiosity in the music & meaning, introspection; inspire listener to dig deeper
- The process of album cover art creation. Where does it start? Is there a standard process, or does it really vary depending on if an artist is an indie artist, or signed with a label?
- Sources of inspiration for cover art.
- Mindy’s favorite bizarre album covers.
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Darin says: As a pre-teen in Concord, NC, discovering electronic music through albums like Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole and Prodigy – Fat Of The Land, opened up a new mental landscape that I had never tapped into before and became an escape and release from reality that I craved all the time. Up until that point I was typically surrounded by Country, Rock, HipHop, etc. and when listening to these genres my minds default state would be to visualize the musicians with their instruments. There was an element of magic and mystery that was missing because I already knew how the cake was made and what the ingredients were but with electronic music I didn’t have the foggiest idea of how those other worldly sounds were created and it allowed my mind to venture into abstract and previously untapped states of exploration that felt like hopping into a rocket ship and flying somewhere I’d never been. During my years in the United States Marine corps and on deployments to Iraq I would hide my iPod in my bulletproof vest (because it was strictly prohibited) and while on patrols in our humvees I would have one earbud in while standing up in the turret manning the 50 caliber machine gun. I spent countless hours watching over the desert while having the ability to take a mental break from the monotony and chaos that only my favorite electronic artists could provide. Those times solidified my desire to make music an integral part of whatever I did with my life, so after leaving the military I went directly to a Music Production and Audio Engineering school in Hollywood, CA and from there was able to work within the Film Trailer Industry. All of those connections I still maintain today while continuing my creatively fulfilling career of artwork and design supporting music that I love.
Thanks so much to Darin for sharing his story and insight with us today; that was very enlightening.
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