Hang the DJ

hang-the-dj-headerHang the DJ. Wait, hang on a second.

One thing I wanted to accomplish when I moved to St. Petersburg from D.C. was to experience a night at a local bar spinning some of the music that has shaped and influenced my life. I had no equipment, no experience and no idea if anyone in St. Pete even listened to the stuff I’d want to play.

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Friends helped.

Jen and Genevieve, co-workers at local vinyl shop Bananas Records, asked me to be a part of a three-headed-DJ team and we’ve been doing a monthly Flashback Fridays gig at The Independent Bar for a few months now. We spin all vinyl and we keep it simple and fun. It’s less a dance party and more background music and that suits me fine, although random acts of dancing do occur.

It also gave me a chance to throw down some design ideas for the night’s promo posters.

For our 60s night, I took inspiration from the Quadrophenia film poster since I lean towards the British end of the 60s spectrum (plus, I practically own stock in Ben Sherman). I prefer to keep my design simple and clean, so I liked the bits of blue, red and black on the white background. The type is Helvetica Neue.

Some people love Helvetica and some loathe it. Personally, I love it. I still vividly remember it as part of the New York City Subway maps in the 70s, before I even knew what I was looking at.

I don’t know how long the dj gig will last. The way I look at it, I’ve already surpassed my dream of doing it once. The happiness bonus has been getting the opportunity to channel my love of music into the promo posters. I can’t help but smile when I see them out there in the wild.

 

Record Store Day

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Record Store Day is kind of a big deal for vinyl fans. Being asked to design the poster and social creative for Bananas Music in St. Petersburg, Florida was kind of a big deal for me.

Begun in 2008, Record Store Day is an international event held at vinyl shops across the country and around the world. Bands release special edition singles and albums exclusively for the day. For instance, The Cure released Torn Down, a sequel of sorts to 1990’s Mixed Up compilation. Mixed Up was also re-issued as part of RSD.

Bananas, as many shops do, organized a day of deals, live music, food and a general celebration of the culture, community and camaraderie that orbit these venues.

Bananas RSD_FINALI was jazzed to be asked to design the poster and social media creative for the store, going for something clean and neat, with a brushing homage to Peter Saville’s design for New Order’s 1983 masterpiece Power, Corruption and Lies. The colored blocks above the album sleeve are color coordinated to the type below, a nod to the color chips on Saville’s iconic design.

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I wouldn’t normally showcase the concepts I worked on prior to the final version, but I quite liked the pixellated banana idea I put together. It plays with the obvious implied sexual connotation, but by pixelating the peeled portion of the banana I was able to have some fun with it. It was my favorite concept, but it slipped to number 2 with the store.

Why no, I’m not above bad puns. Why do you ask?

New Order versus OMD

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Taking a page from my time in DC, I recently suggested that the monthly DJ gig with friends Jen and Genevieve expand to try a ‘versus night’, specifically New Order versus OMD, as both the latter and Peter Hook, former bassist of the former, were due in town in the coming months.

I was curious if the blissful, insane fun I had at Cure vs. The Smiths, New Order vs. Duran Duran and Depeche Mode nights at DC’s Black Cat (special nod to DJ Michelle Guided for providing much of that soundtrack) could be replicated – on a much smaller scale. And hey, if nobody showed, at least we’d enjoy a night of great music.

We sold the idea to a skeptical manager at The Independent Bar that hosts our low-key, all vinyl gigs. Now for a poster design.

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The Design

It starts and ends with Peter Saville. Saville’s design defined an era. His work with Factory Records, his iconic cover designs for Joy Division, New Order, OMD and other post-punk bands emerging from the UK in the late 70s and early 80s are instantly recognizable.

I had a lot of fun playing in his sandbox as I went from producing one design to four. The designs are all mashups. The main poster utilizes the bold lines and streetmap grid look of New Order’s 2016 ‘Music Complete’ album while incorporating the tan, brown and green color scheme from OMD’s 1983 album ‘Dazzle Ships’, both designed by Saville. I added the fuchsia for some pop as I felt it complemented the other colors and contrasted the black line art well.

The typography is strict Helvetica, which lent itself to the utilitarian look of a lot of the early Factory Records and Hacienda materials.

Each of the posters pulls from New Order – OMD – Factory aesthetic and style – all shaped by Saville. Famously, the sparse ‘No’ that featured on New Order’s ‘Waiting For the Siren’s Call’ was actually a response by Saville to a request to design the album cover.

Episode 22 – Ghosthouse Part 2

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Just when you thought it was safe to back into the Ghosthouse…

Our 132-hour expose of this 1988 Italian horror movie continues with Part 2, where Jon, Pete and guest Bernie Gonzalez dial it up a few notches to discuss Willy Moon, world’s creepiest happy-go-lucky hitchhiker, among other details.

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Episode 21 – Ghosthouse Part 1

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Since friend, artist and all-around great guy Bernie Gonzalez told us to watch the bizarro 1988 horror flick Ghosthouse (it has been give then RiffTrax treatment) it’s only fitting we have him on to explain himself. We also get a comprehensive summary of Italian giallo cinema, of which Ghosthouse is a part. When the Italian director uses the nom de plume Humphrey Humbert in the credits, you know something messed up is happening.

Add a little ghost girl, a not really creepy clown doll and some Troll 2-level acting and you have this beautiful disaster. Plus America’s favorite happy-go-lucky hitchhiker, Willy Moon. Ciao!

Episode 20 – The Cloverfield Paradox

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What beats a paradox? A full house. Actually, hell if we know, but that doesn’t stop us from talking about Netflix and J.J. Abrams’ Super Bowl surprise – another entry in the Cloverfield series. By now even your pet guinea pig, Colonel Squeaker has weighed in on this one, but we’ve decided to take a crack, too. Hey, we never said we were timely.


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Episode 19 – Terror Train in Vain

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The golden age of 80s slasher cinema produced some interesting, if not great movies. In this episode, we buy a ticket for Terror Train, a 1980 Canadian-American production that slipped through the cracks of our adolescent viewing. Jamie Lee Curtis, Ellis from Die Hard and David Copperfield playing against type as a – wait for it – magician! It can’t be all bad can it?


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Episode 18 – Disco Star Wars

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Podcasts are dropping left and right analyzing the latest Star Wars blockbuster, The Last Jedi. But one major plot point that’s not being discussed in all these podcasts is, “What happened to that Star Wars disco record?”

On this episode, we’re taking it back to the funky Seventies to talk about the brief era where John Williams’ iconic themes were slapped and slathered with a jazzy disco sheen. We also go in depth on the album below by noted* jazz funk surf legends, the Jeff Wayne Space Shuttle. If you have any desire to listen to some, err, interesting interpretations on the Star Trek, Planet of the Apes TV show as well as the Superman and Batman themes, check out this blog post from 2012 that has a link to access .mp3 files of the entire album.

* – by noted, we mean completely forgotten

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Episode 17 – Friday the 13th Discussion Part 2

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What is it they say about sequels being bloated and paling in comparison to the original? Well we here at the So Bad It’s… podcast don’t listen to such talk, because Part 2 of our discussion on the Friday the 13th movie series with is longer, better and more entertaining than the Crispin Glover dance from the Final Chapter. Click play already!

Episode 16 – Friday the 13th Discussion Part 1

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Somewhere along the journey of growing up in the 80s, Friday the 13th moves went from making us scream with terror to scream with laughter. On this episode of So Bad It’s… we’re joined by fellow Friday aficionado Graham LaMontagne as we track our memories, thoughts and insights and discuss the series and all things Jason Voorhees.

In keeping with the series’ myriad of sequels, this is the first of a two-part episode. So grab your hockey mask or burlap sack and meet us up at Camp Crystal Lake with Dudley, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, Alice, Kris and the rest of the gang.