Nice to see Jim MahFood aka Food One wearing an old school Ninja T-shirt at a recent painting event. He has a show in London this month too with fellow artist Scott Campbell aka Scott C with a series of collaboration pieces they’ve done. It’s at the London Miles Gallery from June 11th
Not only did I have 3 artwork deadlines to finish by Friday, 2 gigs at the weekend and the usual family responsibilities but no sooner had one of my sons got over a bout of chicken pox than the other one caught it. Cue more sleepness nights, creams, medicines, doctors and eventually a visit to A&E and an eye doctor as the pox had clustered around his eyes and we feared infection. It turns out he is now out of the woods and is thrilled with his new Prowl Transformer toy (the Ninja Autobot no less).
The artwork deadlines were for promos for the new King Cannibal album and single on Ninja and The Herbaliser‘s Session 1 & 2 release on !K7 and I definitely bit off a bit more than I could chew with King Cannibal (no pun intended). The initial image idea had been to create a mass of intertwined bodies, all covered in latex, gas masks, bondage gear and the like (made for some interesting ‘research’). Whilst putting all this together I came to the conclusion that this needed something more and sitting at the table casually talking with my wife about seemingly unrelated events, I got a vision and knew how I could make the image better. Two outer rings of machines and photos of the earth from above would encircle the latex bodies like a darker, industrial take on Mati Klarwien‘s painting ‘A Grain of Sand’.
I find I get a lot of ideas doing very mundane things (not that sitting talking to the missus is mundane you understand), – making the tea, tidying up, going to the toilet – anything but sitting in front of a sketchbook or computer. I’ve not looked into it but there must be some subconscious brain activity churning around in the background whilst you take a break, your work is pushed to the background whilst you are forced to concentrate on a different matter at hand. Whilst it’s still there it can be seen in a new light and connections are made which are not immediately obvious when solely concentrating on the subject. I get similar things when conversing with other like-minded people on projects, there seems to be cerebral gameplay with some where the mind goes into a sort of idea-jamming one-upmanship. Thoughts get tossed around, built upon and discarded in quick succession and ideas you would never have had on your own are suddenly the basis for your next project.
But I digress, now that this vision had manifest itself in my mind the only thing to do was go back to the drawing board and start adding to the artwork at hand. I often find this happening, something is adequate but a flash of inspiration can make it better or even brilliant and I am helpless to ignore it and go for the easy option. A week later and I’m sitting at the computer at 3am, literally falling asleep at the mouse, with a 1.4GB image file comprised of 180 layers and the machine is seriously struggling to do what I’m asking it. I’m pretty happy with the end result, even though it’s still not quite finished, and you can see a portion of the image on the front cover of the first single from the new album ‘Let The Night Roar’ – Colder Still. Or it would have been Colder Still had Ninja not had a change of mind after I had submitted the artwork and changed it to So…Embrace The Minimum – gahhhh!
Anyway, all this at least gave me time to change little details on it whilst I got on with finishing The Herbaliser‘s artwork for Sessions 1 & 2. If you’re not familiar with the Session 1 album there is good reason as it was recorded nearly 10 years ago and not released on Ninja Tune but on the Herbs’ own Dept H which was distributed by the now defunct Beechwood Music. This was a live album of various cuts from their first three long players in the form they’d been playing as a full touring band and was fairly limited at the time, going on to command high prices. Now the band have recorded a follow up with material from the last three albums and !K7 are reissuing the first volume in a special double CD pack as well as the regular, singular Session 2.
Having done all their artwork since the first album with the exception of Session 1 and the last LP ‘Same As It Never Was’ (other work commitments) I was delighted to go back and fill a space in the catalogue. I completely redesigned the first volume and paired it with a new look for the second from an initial idea by Ollie Teeba – a simple but classic pair of sleeves focusing on large 1 and 2 numerals containing photos from various recording sessions. I ran with this and produced an array of designs in a kind of library music style with geometric number forms, some of which feature inside the booklets now as there were too many to use. I’ll post some soon in the gallery section. This all had to be finished by Friday and I got a mail to say that this was also the last day I could submit a digital booklet for my new EP release to iTunes – another thing to add to the list!
Well I got it in on time and headed off to Bristol with DK for the first night of Solid Steel‘s new residency with D.O.P. at the Thekla. The night was great with new Solid Steel recruit Cheeba playing to his home crowd and us doing the 4 deck video turntablism set followed by Eddy Temple-Morris. Saturday was off to Helsinki to play alongside Mark De Clive-Lowe and the lovely Alice Russell‘s live band at the Funky Elephant festival. I love Finnish design and there was time to shop at Marimeko and Iittala and grab some Moonmin bits for the kids. Check out the shop sign also – in case it’s not so clear it says ‘Ninja – for men’. This week will be tying up loose artwork and website ends before properly getting my head down on the next EP which is in various stages of completion…
I just did my top 10 Food related records for the data transmission site – check ’em out here
Pretty difficult to get a good shot of this, it’s a clear varnish on a black background, a trick I’ve done a few times before with my own releases. CD promos came in last Thursday and the vinyl is due today – *excited*
It’s been a manic week, one my best friends, David Vallade, had the opening of his exhibition at Rat Records in Camberwell, South London and I spent the best part of Wednesday and Thursday helping him hang the work whilst trying not to rifle through the racks. The opening was a great success and loads of old friends showed up including PC, Chantal Passamonte (Mira Calix) Ollie Teeba and various old college mates. I also found out that the giant poster of Funki Porcini’s Fast Asleep cover that they have hanging behind the counter is the actual one from behind the decks in the film Shaun of the Dead – small world. The occasion was only slightly marred by the fact that one of my kids caught chicken pox earlier in the week so the whole family couldn’t be there, I was looking forward to taking the boys to their first record shop…
That was Thursday night, Friday I was off to Gdansk in Poland to play at the Graffest festival alongside Jamie Vex’d, Mike Slott, Bullion and others. The event was held in a decrepit shipyard where giant industrial cranes towered overhead like mechanical insects and half the buildings seemed to abandoned wrecks. Artists like Os Gemeos, Blu and Zedz were present, painting and displaying sculptures both inside and out. Blu had been and gone, apparently shooting 20 frames worth for a new film he’s working on, and by the time I arrived Zedz was already painting over his work whilst men welded a boats hull into place nearby.
A lot of the work was still very much in progress and I got to wander about the indoor exhibition space and see several pieces unfinished including a giant mock up Cadillac complete with artist asleep in the back seat.
If truth be told I was actually more in awe of the shipyard and took a great many snaps of various decaying exteriors and overhead pipes and scaffold work. There’s something quite beautiful about the elements reclaiming their place, paint blistering off old wooden doors, rusting metal and decaying tiles.
Saturday was a return to the UK for a gig in Reading and Mike Slott and I had to evacuate the airport cafe after I spotted a kid’s bag left under a table. Turns out it was an innocent mistake and the mum came rushing up to get it but not before armed police had waved everyone away. The Reading gig looked like it was going to be a bit duff as I had problems with the video signal coming out all green which we traced back to the adaptor I was using finally.
The beginning of the set was marred by the failure of my 3rd track to load, something I can only put down to the file being corrupt possibly because it loaded the night before and ever other track was fine. Pretty galling to hear your track run out into silence as an expectant crowd gathers to hear and watch the beginning of your set as you struggle to work out what the problem is. Thanks to the quick intervention of Scott, the promoter, who put on some fill in music while I rebooted I quickly found the problem and the rest of the set went without any trouble, in fact it went quite well considering I’d been told it was an electro indie crowd who didn’t dance to drum n bass.
Been busy doing all sorts of things and not had time to post much but I did a short interview with the Keep Up! guys a month or so ago and it’s on their site right now. It’s about the making of the King Cannibal 12″ cover which is just out and available to buy here. The Keep Up! interview is here
On the subject of my own release, i’ve posted the artwork on my Flickr page and the release is now July 6th I’m told, by which time I should be well into the second EP for delivery a month later.
I’m currently finishing artwork for The Herbaliser‘s ‘Session 1’ (reissue) and ‘Session 2‘ (all new live recordings of Herbs classics) and starting King Cannibal‘s LP art
…and they did. I just played my first AV set in Ireland at Twisted Pepper in Dublin and local DJ Kormac and crew organised a special DJ Food cake for me. Props to him as he played a great set and passed on a mix for a forthcoming Solid Steel show. Also thanks to Mark Cantwell of ItIsOn, who is nearing completion on his ongoing Raiding the 20th Century, film for the photos.
It’s been an exhilarating and frustrating couple of weeks recently. I’d been having mysterious computer problems, random freezes, beach balls of doom and general start up problems with my main Mac Pro machine. I just managed to finish the artwork to my EP when it really went into meltdown and I spent days trying to find the source of the problem. Finally a random forum post pointed to a faulty batch of video cards shipped with my generation of Macs. Apple – to give them credit – agreed to replace the card without question or cost and the machine was shipped off to the nearest workshop for a week.
At the same time I got the proofs back to much ooh-ing and aaah-ing (see last post) and the mythical DJ Food website is under reconstruction (this is mk 2 – mk 1 in all it’s guises is officially laid to rest). I’m pretty confident that this incarnation will be operational within a couple of months minimum although it’s got a hell of a lot of content for me to upload.
I’ve spent the past week messing about in various situations with photographer Martin LeSanto-Smith trying to get some interesting press shots out of my horrendously unphotogenic form. We’ve got some pretty nice stuff but there’s still a lot of Photoshop work to be done on some so you’re spared for the moment. Got some pretty interesting shots by pointing two MacBook Pros at each other, ichatting via the video link and generating video feedback from the inbuilt cameras. Not sure if Ninja will go for them but I think they’re the best of the bunch so they’ll end up somewhere.
Promos of the EP should be going out this week to press, I’m in the middle of artwork for The Herbaliser’s ‘Session 1 & 2’ release(s) for !K7 and about to start the King Cannibal LP art which will possibly be the weirdest thing I’ve ever done. As soon as that’s finished work resumes on the next Food EP…
New EP art for the promo CD up on my Flickr
This is more of a teaser picture for the final cover which is in full colour and will reveal more than twice as much again of the image. The 12″ comes wrapped in a poster cover…
Yes, I know, I can’t quite believe I’m typing that either. Yesterday it was issue 3 of Alan Moore‘s ‘Big Numbers’ and today news of a new DJ Food record, whatever next?
Today I cut the first of three 12″ EPs which will make up the bulk of an album early next year, the first one is called ‘One Man’s Weird Is Another Man’s World’ and is out late May/early June on vinyl and download.
The vinyl will have 5 tracks with a playing time of just over 30 minutes and the download package will have a remix by Bundy K Brown that won’t be available on the vinyl or album when it drops. There will possibly also be an extra instrumental and a cappella of one of the tracks too + a digital booklet to go with it.
More details soon but here’s a sneak peek at part of the artwork, done by one of my favourite comic artists, Henry Flint.
I have a short mental list of things I’d like to see, hear or experience before I die, and today another one of them stepped closer to reality. This list includes things like the KLF‘s ‘Black Room’ album, Richard Williams‘ ‘The Thief and the Cobbler’ film and used to include Brian Wilson‘s ‘Smile’ LP until he miraculously finished it a few years back.
Most of these projects will never see fruition as the time has passed and the creators have moved on leaving a few tantalising snippets of material promising much but revealing little. One such entry on this list is Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz‘s ‘Big Numbers’ comic from the great comic / graphic novel boom in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This comic promised so much being as Moore was riding a creative high from Watchmen and From Hell.
Sienkiewicz had done Elektra, Daredevil and Stray Toasters and was, Dave McKean aside, one of the most daring artists working in comics at the time. The run was supposed to be twelve issues starting in black and white, and tones and colour would be gradually added over the course of the story which revolved around mathematics and chaos theory according to Moore.
Frustratingly the comic was halted after issue 2 by the company going bust and Sienkiewicz’s assistant, an unknown Al Columbia, taking over at issue 3 and then having a breakdown and refusing to release the art. The project stopped, people moved on and it was consigned to the pile of unfinished projects that were never to be.
I never thought I’d ever see this but someone has posted photocopies of the whole of issue 3 here. They are reportedly the real thing and Alan Moore has given his permission to have them made public. Also, Sienkiewicz gives and long and fascinating account of what happened to the comic here. Now, if only Moore, Sienkiewicz and Columbia could be persuaded to finish this potential masterpiece…
PS: to see the quality of these pages (2nd or 3rd generation photocopies apparently) against what could have been, 10 of the fully toned pages can be seen on the web as they were printed, sans speech bubbles, in a fanzine sometime in the 90s.
Verity (Vez) Hoper used to work for Ninja Tune as press officer and her big passion was all things video and film related. She soon became commissioner for many of the videos being made for the label in the first half of the noughties and co-founded the monthly Antenna night at the NFT which set out to showcase the best new music videos being made. Along the way she befriended Edgar Wright, director of Spaced and later Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. She even appeared as a zombie extra in the former but possibly her biggest contribution was providing a number of rare posters from the Ninja archive to help dress the set of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost‘s house. Many of these were never made available to the public so eagle eyed Ninja fans have an extra treat when watching this excellent film. The biggest treat for me was seeing my Funki Porcini ‘Fast Asleep’ poster taking pride of place above the decks in the living room.
Big Ninjas on Tour poster from an old 90’s tour of Europe
You can see the huge Funki Porcini ‘Fast Asleep’ poster in the background above the decks. To the left, a Canadian poster for an Amon Tobin / Kid Koala gig and a Amon Tobin / DJ Food / Kid Koala ‘Meals on Wheels of Steel’ tour poster.
Better view of the Ninjas on the Road poster – this must have been from the first proper Ninja tour of the continent – mainly Germany and France – in ’96 being as it includes, Coldcut (Jon More), The Herbaliser (Ollie Teeba), DJ Vadim and DJ Food (PC and myself)
Pest single promo poster
Ninja Tune label manager Peter Quicke‘s wife is a film set dresser and she was ‘lucky’ enough to be employed on the set of The Spice Girls’ ‘Spiceworld – The Movie’ back when girl-power was at it’s height. During the film (what do you mean you haven’t seen it?) the Girls do a number at the Ministry of Sound whilst Meatloaf, their driver, waits outside in the tour bus. After the song, Sporty Spice comes bounding out to wake him up and you catch a fleeting glimpse of a row of ‘Ninja Cuts : Flexistentialism‘ promo posters, freshly pasted on the wall in the background.
Well, the second Videocrash was on Saturday night at Koko in London with a line up of Hexstatic, Bomb The Bass, Cheeba, Octavcat and yours truly amongst others and it was a blast if a little bit of a shorter one than before. Seven acts on a bill, including two bands with drummers, is a bit much to cram into 8 hours which was cut down to 7 when the soundchecks overran.
Most sets were cut including ours and new Solid Steel member Cheeba‘s. Poor guy had travelled down from Bristol to soundcheck a full 12 hours before his set – he only had an hour and had the graveyard shift from 3 until 4am – only to get 30 minutes before closing time.
DK and I slashed nearly half of our set and added some new bits in we’d been working on the past week which worked pretty well. All photos here were taken by the inimitable Martin Le Santo (thanks again mate)