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.

Hotel Morrissey – the marketing

The other day I wrote about my dream involving the Hotel Morrissey, which naturally housed a Cafe Morrissey in its lobby. How this respite for weary travelers existed only in my dream no one can really know, but that was no excuse to not formulate marketing and product strategies!

A Facebook post followed, and thanks to some truly ace ideas from a couple of friends, it cemented in my mind that this was perhaps the single greatest idea I had ever had!

What follows are the fruits of our labors. Special thanks to Brian, Mario, Marc, Steve, Marya and Lauren for fueling the fire. Please feel free to add your own ideas so that some day the Hotel Morrissey will become the reality it was meant to be. Morrissey is such the lyricist that this could go on forever (in which case I’m doomed). Continue reading “Hotel Morrissey – the marketing”

Hotel Morrissey

I was dreaming.

In my dream, I stumbled around a corner of a large building and noticed the art deco sign, cast in shiny aluminium on the wall: The Hotel Morrissey.  That’s pretty cool, I thought.

From there, I jumped a railing into the hotel (it’s a dream, if you have to ask), and ended up alone in a lobby cafe. Glancing up at the menu hanging from a wooden beam at the counter, I saw the familiar silhouette of Steven Patrick Morrissey, highlighting a house specialty, The Last of The Famous International Cappucinos. Brilliant.

Continue reading “Hotel Morrissey”

Discovering Terry Hall

You’d think someone who’s worked with artists and bands ranging from Blur’s Damon Albarn, Tricky, The Lightning Seeds, Sinead O’Connor, Lily Allen, Gorillaz and a personal guilty pleasure of mine, Bananarama, would have made their way onto my musical radar some time ago, but it is only within the last week or so that I’ve been diving deep into the career of Terry Hall. He is my stumble upon artist of the moment. A dry, witty British singer whose best-known band, Coventry ska punk legends The Specials, have reformed for a 30th anniversary tour that sees them playing the opening day of the Coachella festival today, April 16 (Only founding member and chief songwriter Jerry Dammers is absent from this reunion).

Continue reading “Discovering Terry Hall”