As a graphic designer, who do you feel about digital music? Do you feel your designs can carry the same weight on clothing and apparel as they would on vinyl?
Digital music is amazing, i use it everyday. Designs are different what ever surface they are on. Vinyl has a very different semiotic than CD, it has a whole history behind it. Plus its fragile, expensive, and normally better looking. You can't just put something on a record thats on a tee and vice versa you need to consider surface, print technique everythin in order to re appropriate your design to get it looking perfect.
Isomorphs seems to be mainly made up of more techno and electronic bands. Do you find that you generally just prefer this genre of music to others, or is it because you feel it more reflects the partial focus of the label on design? (Emma Twine)
Neither. All the bands are on the label because I loved them as people, enhanced by the fact they made amazing music, and they had passion and a vision. Those are the reasons. All the bands are totally different genres and from all over.
There is no balance, life is work and work is life. I do not even attempt to seperate the two, sometimes I can't remember whether my friends are clients or my clients are friends, its all blended together. My social life and my work like blend seamlessly, in fact, most of the time, I forget I am even working.
Would you agree that the work you do for bands gives them a visual identity, and is this something you are conscious of doing? If so… How do you go about creating a visual identity for something? What do you think about/ take into consideration? (Sarah Dawson)
Everything, most of it goes on in the back of my mind and it is very difficult to describe in words. I guess its inherent in designers to understand and be able to carve an aesthetic for each project. I try not to be influenced too much by current trends, but I like to have a lot of dialogue with the band and establish what they want as well as what I think they need.
Does it bother you that the products you create are (necessarily!) expensive luxuries? Or do you like the idea that someone who buys an Isomorph EP will have decided to go without something else as a consequence, and it will therefore mean more to them? (Sarah Dawson)
Its not about it being "expensive" its about it having value - It costs money to make a beautiful object, and it takes time. The price of the record is dependent on many factors. Even though my label is very small I still have to fund the hire of equipment, assisting on tour budgets, transport, and then the record manufacture on top of that. The limited edition nature of the record increases the cost on a manufacturing level as it requires more money to make less of a product. Also especially with the HR record we used specialist print finishes, for example we used a thicker card stock than usual, we printed the inside and outside of the sleeve, and then the laser foiling, coloured vinyl... i could go on, even the plastic slip cases the records come in had to be custom made to accommodate the larger stock and spine, but the sleeves were a must because we didn't want all our beloved editions to be scuffed and crumpled. See we thought a lot about this object, and rightfully so!
I don't like to look at the records as expensive items, they are lovingly created for the buyer, hand packed and numbered. I spend my time making it as beautiful as possible with the hope that everyone that owns it will enjoy it in its entirety, and really truly treasure it, not because it cost them more than another record but that someone cared about making them an object that was special, not just off a production line of thousands that will be sold cheap wholesale and then churned out in record shops. The records I sell are all packed and posted by me, I think that people notice all of these things, as well as the time invested , and after all of these processes recognise that it is not expensive, but that it is of value - and that its price tag is worth paying.
I think that the work you’ve done for Hearts Revolution encourages proper obsessive fandom – the ‘I must own every release on every format!’ mentality. Have you ever been that kind of fan of anything? (Sarah Dawson)
The heartsrevolution manifesto is inclusive and lovingly embraces anyone that wants to support and follow it. i think this is what draws people to it. I am a fan of lots of things I collect tons of weird shit - i have like every single released Radiohead track (probably not EVERY one but I would like to think so). I also collect sharpies and lots of other strange pens & stationary. I even have a rather large paper collection accumulating. I think owning music is becoming more important, It is scary to think that with one crash of a harddrive we could lose everything we love, all our photos memories and music. This is why people are going back to vinyl, so they can see it, it is physical, it stacks on a shelf, it has a weight and a value that cannot be overshadowed even by cheap (or free) readily available MP3's. Also I think since music has become so easy to obtain people are back tracking, they desire the "rare" because it sets them apart. I like the idea that when this record is sold out, there will be no more, the person who owns number 12/500 will own it forever, in fact I even know the name of the owner of the number 12 record, because that is how my label works - every record has an owner and that owner isn't just a number, they are someone who is part of the team that supported this project and believed in what I do.
I’ve read a lot about your aims for Isomorph in terms of design and packaging, but do you have any particular vision of what the world is missing musically and what you’d like to add to it? (Sarah Dawson)
I keep my musical ideas under wraps. I don't feel it is my job to dictate where music is going to go. There is a reason I am designing records not singing on them. I feel like its my job to give people a platform to publish what they do and In that way I am making a statement on what I think is relevant and important in music. There will be lots more to come I assure you, but as for the future I'll leave that to the likes of Dave Sitek, James Ford, and all the musical whizzes out there.
Are there any labels whose approach/ design work really influences you, or anyone currently doing similar things that you respect? (Sarah Dawson)
Two of my close friends and clients run labels Merok and Young Turks. Both of them made me realise it was something I could do and they supported my journey and helped out at times where I needed it. There are lots of independents out there that are doing awesome stuff, whether it be a Grime label or a Noise label, anyone who is investing time in putting out stuff they love gets my vote. Design wise, I still work for the independents and the majors out there, and also act as a consultant to them on numerous creative projects. I don't want to be a snob and only work on my own endeavors I think it is important to help guide the industry as a whole, I don't think I will be able to make a revolution on my own!
Being a self-confessed vinyl enthusiast, what is it that you love so much about that particular record format? (Emma Twine)
Sounds great, looks even better, and lasts forever.