G’day, mate. How’s ya snag hanging? Ready for some amber fluid? Ace! And that’s about the extent of the Aussie we know… well, outside of music. We know the crap out of some Aussie bands. Yeah, we’re kind of cool. Anyhoo… Daybreak are from Perth and somehow make their instruments sound like dingoes eating babies. What does that mean? #NOISE! The band’s seven-track EP Death Dreams dropped on July 28th and we connected with guitarist Blake Pearce and Adelaide-based artist Billy Oakly to talk about the killer cover art. Read words.
Your new album cover is crazy-cool. Tell us about the artist and how you found him/her?
Blake Pearce: The Artist is Billy Oakley. We found him through another piece he did for a band called Sleep Talk. He did an amazing job on their art and we felt as if he’d nail what we were asking of him.
What was the inspiration for the album’s cover artwork?
Pearce: We wanted the artwork to be a strong representation of our music and themes shown throughout the EP by having a subject who embodied the things we as people and as a band have been through over the past few years. Someone who’s mind is fried from drugs, who is beaten down by his father, friends and ex partner, and who is disgusted with the parasites in the world. They’re an outcast. A very sad and angry person with a dark, eerie, gloomy, and sinister life.
Please elaborate on the medium(s) used when creating the art. We’d love to know how the artwork was created.
Billy Oakly: So the paintings are all done on canvas and with oil paint. I would start with a light black wash over the canvas and then begin work on the male subject that I was painting. After that I would finish the background to a fuller black. Once all that was nice and complete I would start pouring turpentine over the painting and scraping whatever paint was on my palette onto the canvas. Which I feel is a really nice mix of making a mess, but also being quite calculated at the same time.
What were the partnership’s dynamics like? For example, was a specific look given, or did the artist have full free range?
Pearce: We knew what we wanted before coming to Billy with the idea so there was free range in terms how not what.
Oakly: One of the things that the band wanted was to have something that strongly resembled another artist, an Italian painter by the name Nicola Samori. Samori’s works were very representational and very lifelike, as well as very dark. They would paint renaissance caliber portraits and figures. The pivotal thing about Samori’s work was their ability to play with the abstraction of the paint itself. Their work would feature figures with drooling and pooling away from their bodies. Although the specific thing that the boys wanted for their artwork was to feature a quite beaten and emotionally disrupted young male. From there I was able to take things in my own accord and produce works that I felt all of us could really enjoy and be happy with.
Did the artist who did the cover art hear the album before hand? Or, what kind of input did you give him?
Pearce: We were wrapping up pre-production of the EP when we started thinking about the artwork (having everything ready for when we were ready) so I don’t think Billy got a chance to have a listen before starting the painting. The fact that we wanted the art to represent our music made it easier as we were able to communicate what the songs were about to create a meaningful portrayal of the music.
With the increasing popularity of digital music, most fans view artwork as just pixels on a screen. Why did you feel the artwork was important?
Pearce: We wanted something with texture not just pixels. Majority of album artworks these days are all digitally produced but for this release we wanted everything to be real. It’s more for us than it is our listeners.
What are your thoughts and/or the pros and cons about digital art versus non-digital?
Oakly: I feel it that it depends so much on what the artist themselves enjoy. In the digital age it is definitely more cohesive to be using digital equipment to produce art. One of the biggest differences between them is of course the cost. There is a definite greater expense to creating physical art as opposed to digital art. I think ultimately there is no benefit or disadvantage to either. It depends entirely on what you want!
Pearce: Respect goes to both digital and non-digital art. Both take an enormous amount of time and effort to learn and perfect that craft. It is a matter of preference as to which medium you choose. We chose a raw non-digital artwork for the EP to make it as real as possible. We tracked real drums, real bass, raw guitars that it was only fitting to use artwork that would go hand in hand.
Do you prefer having the most creative control when you get a project, or do you prefer when the band gives you a lot of input?
Oakly: Working with and for a band is very unlike any other jobs I take on. It’s incredible, you’re working with anywhere from 3-6 different people who are artists themselves and have an idea and passion behind it that idea. Yet they may have a hard time directly expressing what they want, because they may not be visual artists themselves. It’s my job to come in and receive as much information as I possibly can, pick their minds a great deal, hopefully give them a product that they love!
So really ultimately I think what I enjoy the most is to have a very large initial conversation and try to have everything fleshed out before I begin! So I don’t enjoy complete creative control and I don’t feel I should, I think it should be more about finding what the band wants and getting myself 100% on board with the idea and create something both them and myself love!
Once I get started I definitely prefer to be left alone. It’s one of the pains of working with physical art is that altercations can be difficult to make!
When people look at the album cover artwork, what do you want them to see/think?
Pearce: I want people to see the emotion behind it, the anger and pain that lies inside the music. We put our all into this record including our own raw emotion on all tracks and we hope that people can feel that through the artwork we chose.
Check out the video for “Death Dreams”