Establishing himself as an indie artist to watch, Drew Angus is quickly becoming known for the catchy, down-to-earth tunes he creates that draw comparisons to the styles of Ben Rector and John Mayer.
Placing his music at the intersection of Americana and rock ‘n roll, with a sprinkle of funk and retro soul, Angus has shared stages with Harry Styles and Nile Rogers (on SNL), Pat Benatar, Ann Willson of Heart, Andrea Bocelli (on Live with Kelly & Ryan), and has toured with Marc Broussard – quickly gaining a following as an “up-and-coming” artist with his lively performances and soulful singing.
The Bridgeport, Connecticut singer-songwriter puts his spin on his New Americana music with indelible hooks, savvy craftsmanship and relatable lyrics, most notably on display in his recent single “Broken Heart Last.” The pop-rock track explores themes of heartbreak, falling out of love, relationship turmoil, and more. When the dust settles from a breakup, some days become better than others, but it still hurts when the positive memories of your relationship come flooding back.
We sat down with Drew to dive deeper into the visuals of his latest release and discover more about how the artwork conveys the story behind the song. Read on for an exclusive segment of V13’s UnCovered series.
Please help us understand what are you trying to convey with the cover’s imagery? Give us details on the concept.
Drew Angus: “The ‘Broken Heart Last’ cover art is meant to convey the pain and anger that comes with heartbreak. I wanted it to feel like an explosion. Breaking up is never an easy or fun experience for either party and the nebula of colored powder in the shape of a heart exploding outward symbolizes the experience for me. It just feels like the pain will never go away.”
How did the artwork’s image and concept come to you?
“Actually, I ran out of budget on this one and had a super tight deadline to get the song out, so I turned to DALL-E AI and spent a couple hours messing around, feeding it descriptive language and ideas. The earliest renditions were not good. HA! AI is a wild little machine and if you start thinking out of the box and getting super specific with textures, shapes, colors, themes, and ideas, it will generate some pretty cool images.”
Who created the artwork? How did you decide on that artist?
“I was living in Nashville earlier this year and had a tight deadline to get the artwork done for this one and I asked my housemate AJ Smith, who he used for his last single. He showed me DALL-E. I was skeptical at first but after trying some different things with the software, I was able to generate some pretty cool ideas.”
Did the artist get a chance to listen to any of the music before creating the artwork?
“DALL-E did not get to hear the song. I could only feed it words. But I wrote and recorded the song, so I guess you could say the artist did get to hear the song before creating the artwork.”
What were the partnership’s dynamics like? For example, was a specific look given, or did the artist have full free range?
“I started out with a pretty specific prompt, something along the lines of ‘Modern Heart breaking with hands putting the pieces back together,’ and got some really terrible work. Hands with six fingers and four knuckles, no fingernails. It looked like an elementary school art class, so I shifted gears and tried some different descriptive words and ideas and ended up with an explosion of colorful powder in the shape of a heart on a dark background. I certainly got what I asked for!”
What’s your favourite thing about this album cover?
“I like that it’s a colorful nebula in the night sky. I love that it symbolizes the pain and the destruction of a broken heart but it’s also like a light at the end of a tunnel for the end of that pain. I can’t really say how long a broken heart really lasts. I’m sure there are studies that have been done, but this artwork, to me, is the visual representation of that experience.”
What are some of your favourite album covers of all time?
“I love Abbey Road. It’s such an iconic photo. As a fan of the Beatles and a songwriter, how can you not love this one?! The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers is the only interactive album cover I’ve ever seen with a working zipper in the packaging. Eat A Peach by the Allman Brothers Band is another of my favorites. It just makes me feel good. Theo Katzman’s Modern Johnny Sings: Songs in the Age of Vibe is a great throwback to the covers of the 50s and 60s with a little modern flair in the best way.”
What style of art would you be most interested in seeing as a variation of your album artwork?
“I’m an abstract painter and kind of love the artwork as it is but I think it would be fun to see it as either photorealism – like an actual star exploding lightyears away. It would also be fun to see it as a cartoon.”
What do you think more people should appreciate about album artwork?
“Album artwork has really become an afterthought for a lot of artists because of the way streaming services treat it. Now, on Spotify, they want you to put a seven-second video up that replaces the artwork altogether. It’s sad! Album artwork used to really mean something. It created conflict! It made you feel something! Now it’s a 3000×3000 pixel thumbnail that you can hardly see. I wish streaming services would prioritize album artwork so that people can appreciate the artistic representation of the music that album art often is.”