FOR PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY DO READ PLAYBOY FOR THE ARTICLES
Vol. II - Nr. 1 - 2012
A Storm Is Coming
Schepenhuisstraat 17, 9000 Gent, Belgium www.angels-ghosts.com – @AndGallery
STORM THORGERSON June 22 – september 1, fort napoleon, ostend
everything you always wanted to know about storm · including in-depth meteorological reports from worldrenowned experts like goose and carl de keyzer · plus a guide to sleeping under the stars · without being harassed by sleazy photographers · and a special report on how to spend your money wisely · in our exhibition shop
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
“The most impressive thing about Storm’s work is that you know he set it all up – for real. There’s no trickery involved. Every album cover is pretty much an outdoor installation.” Damien Hirst 15
“I did a book subtlety entitled ‘100 Best Album Covers’ with Hipgnosis co-founder Aubrey Powell and we were terribly modest: we only put in about five of our own.” Storm Thorgerson 8
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
Storm Thorgerson has been called the man who made album covers a veritable artistic force. Some have even called him the Magritte of the music industry. Ever since he stepped in for a friend who – damn you, hallucinatory drugs! – declined to fashion the cover for Pink Floyd’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets, Thorgerson has created some of the most legendary artwork known to mankind – first as a founding member of legendary design collective Hipgnosis, later as the sovereign of StormStudios. From June 22 till September 1, A&Gallery and Visit Oostende present Storm Thorgerson’s first Belgian exhibition at Fort Napoleon. Over eighty of his most iconic images will be shown inside a huge
fortress in the dunes – built in 1811 by Napoleon Bonaparte. All exhibited prints will of course be for sale in limited numbers – signed by Storm Thorgerson – and the gift shop will also include a wide variety of books, vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, posters, magazines and specialty cameras. The exhibition is open every day from 10am till 6pm (except on Monday June 25). Tickets to visit both the fortress and the exhibition cost €5. A City Pass will get you in for free – sort of.
Fort Napoleon, Vuurtorenweg, 8400 Ostend angels-ghosts.com & visitoostende.be & fortnapoleon.be & stormthorgerson.com
“Storm would usually suggest to the band they change the title of the album.” Dan Abbott (collaborator)
“We’ve always gone along – in fact even wholeheartedly agreed – with his basic philosophy: not to do an advertising job but to create a work of art on its own.” David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) 12
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
STORM THORGERSON Keeping it real.
Words: Matt Johns
Chances are you have at least one Of his designs in your record collection. If not, you might want to do something about that. With graphic design outfit Hipgnosis, which he formed at the end of the ‘60s with Aubrey Powell, Storm Thorgerson was responsible for timeless album covers for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, UFO, Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren, XTC, Black Sabbath, 10cc, AC/ DC, Scorpions and dozens more. “It is impossible to write the history of album cover art – or indeed the history of graphic design – without reference to the neo-surrealism of Hipgnosis”, says design expert Adrian Shaughnessy in the excellent book For the Love of Vinyl – The Album Art of Hipgnosis. True, you would expect him to say nothing but good things on the subject (or not get paid) but Shaughnessy also wryly notes how none of the founders and collaborators of the legendary company get mentioned in the extensive list of UK talent on the website of London’s Design Museum. As if album covers are – contrary to shoes by Manolo Blahnik – not to be taken seriously. No doubt millions of
music lovers will wholeheartedly disagree – especially seeing as Thorgerson’s reign has just entered its sixth decade (and Manolo Blahnik isn’t even British to begin with). After dismantling Hipgnosis in 1983, Thorgerson continued to work with Pink Floyd but he also created artwork for much younger bands like Muse, The Cranberries, The Mars Volta, Pendulum and Goose, who won a Belgian Music Industry Award (MIA) for his cover design of the album Synrise. Today, he’s in charge of yet another design collective called StormStudios, which is exactly where we met up with him to talk about design, photography, music and cattle. Do you always listen to the music before committing any ideas? Storm: “Always. It’s like a cardinal rule. I’m not interested in sales so therefore the marketability of an album cover has no relevance to me. I don’t get paid on that basis anyway and it has no relevance to me in terms of design. What I always try to do is represent the music visually – the music always comes first. Unless of course in the case of – say – Black Sabbath’s Technical Ecstasy 2. That was such a great title that it gave rise to an image straight away. So in some cases it could be the title but it’s usually the music or a mixture of the music and something the band said to me. That’s why I’ve always fostered relations with musicians: the longer we know each other, all the more open they become. I’ve been working with the Floyd (or how Storm calls Pink Floyd) for forty years now. Would you believe?”
Since A Saucerful of Secrets. Storm: “Yes, and the communication got better – not always of course but by and large it got better. Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel 3, 10cc 4, they’re longterm relationships, which means I got to know them better and possibly represent them better visually. It’s a win-win situation because visuals aren’t their forte, any more than music is mine. You should hear me sing. Or rather you shouldn’t. Seriously, you shouldn't. Seriously though, bands are not only employing me because they think I might do well. They also hire me for the same reason they hire somebody to play harpsichord or trombone on their record: they’re probably not that good at it themselves and it’s not something they want to really worry or think about. And with Hipgnosis, we always took it quite seriously. It meant a lot to me. I mean, I don't think it matters much in the great scheme of things – next to tsunamis, asteroids, financial crises, health – but being an album cover designer, they mean an awful lot to me. So I think the bands have always felt quite good about that: some serious attention being paid to their album cover as opposed to a record company’s somewhat dilettante approach.” Having a publicity shot taken and thinking ‘that’ll do for the cover’. Storm: “Yes, well, record labels were notorious for thinking that.” The new artists you’re working with these days, do you think they are inspired more by your classic body of work or by the work you’ve
done for their peers? Storm: “Funny you should ask that. I honestly don’t know. I presume people ring me up because they like what I do and they know that I have to work for a living. For instance, Muse 5 came to me because they saw something on my website – but it wasn’t a cover, it was a drawing. I’m pretty sure Rival Sons 6 came to me because they love Led Zeppelin 7. So I think they all have their reasons for contacting me but in a way I suppose it’s also because of the devil you know rather than the devil you don’t. I’m sure the Floyd thought that: if you have someone that’s going to be that close to your record, then you want someone you can trust.”
“Bands hire me for the same reason they don’t play harpsichord on their record: they’re not that good at it.” Almost every artist plans or hopes for a long career so maybe he’s also looking for a sense of structure or continuity? With the same design team, would you agree he would get a sort of continuity? Storm: “I see what you’re saying but I don’t know whether that’s particularly true. What’s been fun about working with the Floyd is that they
were prepared to accept differences. Ummagumma 8 would be called a band portrait – although it’s really about infinite regression; it’s quite deceptive – and it’s completely different from Atom Heart Mother 9. They’ve both got a bit of green in them but other than that I can’t imagine two album covers being more different. I mean one’s a cow – beyond silly and off the wall.” But a lovely picture! Storm: “It was great! I was really pleased with it and it worked an absolute treat for what it was supposed to do: be different. So different that one record company suit almost died. The man had absolute apoplexy and he went all red in the face while pretty much non-stop swearing at me. He didn’t understand what on earth the cow was all about – when it was in fact very much about Pink Floyd. So Atom Heart Mother is completely different from Ummagumma but also very different from The Dark Side of the Moon 10, which is a cool graphic, and Wish You Were Here 11, which is much more pictorial. Then again, maybe there’s a similar approach that escapes me. Having said that, I think continuity can only be sustained if it’s good enough. I don’t think anybody would employ me if they didn't like what I did or if they thought I was losing it. David (Gilmour of Pink Floyd) once accused me of losing it – about four or five years ago. You were wrong, David!” Who are you particularly enjoying working with at the moment? Storm: “Biffy Clyro 12 are great to
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
work with – very interesting music. Muse are fun to work with as well, although they’re currently terribly indulgent. But you can't really blame them for that, can you? Most of the musicians I meet are great but also willful, childish, narcissistic, egocentric, all the things you expect a musician to be. I remember describing Muse like that and people trying to say that ‘yes, but they need to get up on stage and strut their stuff in front of 20,000’. Could you do that? I couldn’t do that. So you make allowances for egomania if you get some great music and a show. Not that I forgive Muse exactly but I think the egomania that’s rampant is a small price to pay. And at the end of the day, I’m still very happy to work in music. Obviously there’s bad music but mostly I think not. Music is one of the good things in life – a bit like trees, which I suppose has no particular rationale.”
that sort of thing doesn’t interest me greatly. I tend to be idea driven. Maybe it’s to do with confidence as well. Doing Ummagumma was a major turning point for me because it worked. The second major turning point was for a band called The Nice and an album called Elegy 13 where I did a line of footballs in a desert – completely preposterous if you think about it. The record company couldn’t see it but they trusted us. So those two album covers in particular, Ummagumma and Elegy, were both turning points for Hipgnosis and me. They gave us some degree of confidence, and confidence is terribly important. Other people aren’t going to believe in your ideas if you don’t. So I learned that if I can think of a good idea, I can probably do it. Also, I’m pretty sure the idea is there. I may not find it today or tomorrow but eventually I will. That’s a confidence thing – and obviously young designers wouldn’t have that immediately. I didn’t either, until I got a job from Pink Floyd. So in that respect I got lucky, I guess. But that’s really only a small part of it because if I hadn’t done something that was moderately okay, they wouldn’t have let me do the next one. There was no sentiment: if the Floyd hadn’t liked it, they would have fired me – like they did for The Wall. I was pretty upset about that obviously.”
How does a typical image come together – from beginning to end? Storm: “We listen to the music, the lyrics, and maybe things the band have told us. We think about it, talk about it, go and have a beer, talk about it some more, go and have another beer, usually procrastinate and prevaricate as long as possible until the deadline looms and we put pen to paper. But I think there’s a more complex question you are asking: where does inspiration come from? And I don't really know. I suspect it comes from diligence: I think there’s quite a lot of hard work involved, and it’s very unromantic. Or you can be taken by spontaneity and have certain visions or thoughts. Sometimes it can come from wordplay, which I think is quite a useful source because it bypasses the more rational area of your brain. So if you have an album that’s called A Foot In the Door, you say ‘a door in the foot’ and you have a completely different ballgame to play. Although on that particular occasion it was unsuccessful. In the end however, you always have to think of something. A blank piece of paper doesn’t tend to go down well with most clients.” The Beatles did it once with The White Album. Storm: “Yes, can’t do it again. Plus:
“A Momentary Lapse of Reason was horribly expensive but Atom Heart Mother was incredibly cheap. The cow didn’t charge.” Nature seems to play an important role in your work. Storm: “Yes, it does. I think it’s to do with atmosphere, initially working with the Floyd and then doing this job for The Nice, who made music sound like a big space. I think it’s also because I’ve always been keen
interview on landscapes. I don’t know why particularly. I mean, Cambridge is near where I grew up and there’s The Fens (a naturally marshy region in eastern England, says Wikipedia) but I don’t remember being interested in it. I was interested in girls and sport, and sport with girls. But I think what I said first is probably true – about the atmosphere that a landscape can engage you in. And if you are shooting landscapes, you invariably want good light. Remember most of the things I do are photographic – that’s because I can’t draw – and when you’re doing photography, light is rather important. So the reason for the blue skies in my work is actually nothing to do with blue skies but with getting the necessary sunlight.” Blue skies, sunlight, we’re still talking about England, right? Storm: (laughs) “I admit: it’s difficult to shoot in England because of the weather. We had to shoot A Momentary Lapse of Reason twice because the first time it rained and we couldn’t see all the beds, which I thought was a minor impediment to the whole idea. Pink Floyd’s manager was slightly annoyed though: ‘So you couldn’t see them. So what? You didn’t shoot it? Fucking crazy! We’ve got schedules!’ There was also a job I did for a band called Gentlemen Without Weapons 14, which involved a line of telegraph poles over the countryside. Once again, it had rained – not on the day we were shooting it but the day before – so we couldn’t bury the poles. We finally managed to do it and I like how the picture came out but it was really difficult.” Luckily, these days you can use a computer for things like that. Storm: “We use a computer mostly for cleaning – something I would have used a brush and paint for in the old days. If there’s muck on the film or a small object in the picture we don’t like, we can take it out. We sometimes use a computer to composite as well: shooting a picture where all the elements are real but they may not be real at the same time because they’re quite difficult to do and you don’t want to risk it all in one moment. Same here though: back in the day, this would have been
called a collage and I would have used a scalpel and prints.” Bottom line: you like to keep it real. Storm: “Yes! For two good reasons: one is that it looks better, the other is so I can see. When you’re doing something like The Division Bell 15 – which was clean up, no compositing, all real – it was remarkable to stand in front of those statues. And the shoot for The Cranberries’ Wake Up and Smell the Coffee was so amazing that we – true story – forgot to take a picture. We let it happen and it was like ‘Shit, that was incredible! How’s the picture, Rupert?’ And he said: ‘What picture?’ He’d just been watching it as well. (laughs) Luckily we could do it again. I guess you could say we create events – sculptures that don’t last very long. A lot of things we do, we have to take down again – like the pig in Animals 16 or the big ball of metal for Anthrax 17. It’s a pity sometimes: the heads for The Division Bell, I’d have loved to have left them in the field but the farmer wasn’t too keen on that.” You can imagine there’d be a lot of people tramping back and forth to see them and take pictures. Storm: (laughs) “I can understand that.” Does it frustrate you that – especially these days – people might think that it’s all Photoshop, when actually you’ve gone to a huge amount of effort to build something? Storm: “It doesn’t, no. You see, I don’t think this ‘real’ thing matters that much to the enjoyment of the picture or the design. It matters to us because we think it looks better – and we’re in the look business – but I honestly don’t have a moral view on it. If I thought it would look just as good on a computer, I would do it on a computer. But it doesn’t so I don’t.”
on artwork. But budget restrictions haven’t really had much of an effect on me. If a band wants to work with me, I tend to avoid the money issue. Of course there’s money involved but that’s not what my work is about. Yes, A Momentary Lapse of Reason was horribly expensive. In fact, don’t ask me how much because I won’t tell you. In contrast though, Atom Heart Mother was incredibly cheap. The cow didn’t charge! But is one better than the other? I ask myself that question.” I think it matters to people that you did it for real – irrespective of the cost. Storm: “I once gave a talk in Japan and the Japanese are quite well behaved in their lecture format: they tend to nod or shake their heads in agreement. I first talked about Wish You Were Here and I asked them if they thought the man on fire was real. They said ‘yes’. I said ‘you think that’s what I do: burn people for art?’ And they went ‘no, no, no!' I then replied ‘so you think it’s faked?’ They said ‘yes’. ‘So you think I try to cheat my audience by doing something that is faked?’ They got very confused. It was a real hoot. (laughs) I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s hard for me to know what people really think about my work. I seriously don’t even know if the Floyd likes The Dark Side of the Moon per example. Do they like it, you think? Now there’s a contentious question! I’m sure they do. Storm: “Have they told you? They haven’t told me.” No, but then I haven’t asked them. Storm: “Me neither. I only presume so because I got employed again, and again.”
All album covers mentioned in this interview can be found on page two and three.
Have declining record company budgets had an impact on your work? Storm: “The budgets were definitely bigger in the ‘70s because records were in their full majesty. Vinyl was going strong and with vinyl being considerably bigger and therefore also more viewable than CD, it just made more sense to spend money
This interview was conducted by Matt Johns, the owner of Brain Damage – one of the most up-to-date Pink Floyd news resources online. brain-damage.co.uk
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Met de steun van de Vlaamse Overheid
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
STORM AT SEA
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#98 SLEEP UNDER THE STARS
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU DID SOMETHING FOR THE FIRST TIME?
This summer, Eastpak is asking you one simple question: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” We thought we’d join the party and asked Storm Thorgerson what he thought about recreating his infamous cover design for Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason. “Great idea! Although I should warn you: shooting A Momentary Lapse of Reason was an absolute nightmare. Those beds are real; believe it or not. There are about 750 of them. And you know what? They’re wrought iron – they’re heavy as shit! In a desire to make it a real art installation, we got the beds and took them down to the beach. The trucks held them at the top of the cliff and we had about thirty people carry them down by hand. It took us about six hours to put the beds out. It looked great – then it rained and you couldn’t see anything! So we had to cancel the shoot and take all seven hundred and fifty back up the cliff, put them back in the lorry, wait two weeks and do it again. At that point, I wondered if I was stark raving mad. I remember
saying to David Gilmour when we were doing it: Nobody’s going to believe we were this fucking stupid.” To some, A Momentary Lapse of Reason did in fact come to be known as proof that Storm Thorgerson is stark raving mad. Others considered him even more brilliant than before, while not completely ruling out the fact that he is slightly bonkers. In any case, the artwork for A Momentary Lapse of Reason came out looking spectacular and nobody has tried a similar stunt ever since. Until now, that is. You see, Fort Napoleon (where this summer’s Storm Thorgerson exhibition is taking place) happens to be right by the beach – in the dunes. Construction of the fort started in 1810, when Napoleon Bonaparte was convinced that the Brits would
launch a strike on the harbour of Ostend. What he didn’t count on was that public works in Belgium tend to generally take three times longer than expected so by the time (1814) the last stone was put in place his reign had pretty much come to an end and he was about to get his ass kicked at Waterloo – an event for which ABBA, in retrospect, wrote the soundtrack. In other words: Fort Napoleon never saw any real action although in World War I it was used as an eatery by the Germans. Oh well, at least Napoleon managed to get the Brits out. Until now, that is.
With British designer Storm Thorgerson in town to host his large-scale exhibition at Fort Napoleon and Eastpak launching its “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” campaign, A&Gallery and Visit Oostende thought it would be an ab fab idea to bring both together. So here’s the thing: on Monday August 6, Eastpak will invite a select number of people to spend the night on the beach in a unique A Momentary Lapse of Reason setting. They’ll make sure you get everything you need – and more! – to turn that night into a truly once in a lifetime experience. Want to join? Keep an eye on www.facebook. com/eastpak.belgium and cancel your trip to some lamo Nikki Beach (because ours will be much more exclusive and fun).
COVER TO COVER
“Prior to us, most album covers were portraits of the band”, said Hipgnosis co-founder Aubrey Powell in a recent interview. “If you think of the early Beatles covers, early Stones covers, they’re all moody colour portraits of the bands looking grim. We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to do interesting, esoteric, weird, surrealist kind of pictures. We both had that vision and it just came about – Storm being very much the brains and me being very much the hands on.” The number of anecdotes and even heavy books about the groundbreaking work of Hipgnosis and Storm Thorgerson is – as you can imagine – endless. Several of those books will be available at Fort Napoleon this summer but in the meantime we thought we’d already treat you to some of those anecdotes.
PINK FLOYD WISH YOU WERE HERE 1975 “Speaking non-egocentrically, I still think the design for Wish You Were Here is great,” says Thorgerson, whose company Hipgnosis designed almost all of Pink Floyd’s album sleeves. While buoyed by the success of his rainbow prism design for The Dark Side Of The Moon, in early ‘75 Thorgerson was struggling to think of an image for its follow-up, just as the band was struggling to make the album: “Once we got the theme of absence – of physicality, emotion, commitment and talent – the rest seemed to follow.” Wish You Were Here’s artwork represented the four elements: fire (the burning man on the front), water (the diver in the lake, originally used on a postcard inside the album), air (the red veil in the wind on the inside sleeve) and earth (the back cover’s bowler-hatted ‘invisible salesman’ in the desert). “With the artwork of Wish You Were Here, you know what’s going on but not how or why,” he says. “Part of the intention was to seduce the viewer into looking again. What is happening? Is he really on fire?” Well, yes – he really was on fire. The two men shaking hands on the front cover were stuntmen Ronnie Rondell and Danny Rogers, shot on an empty Hollywood film lot. A gust of wind blew the flames from Rondell’s asbestos suit into his face, and he had to be doused with a fire extinguisher.” Thorgerson pitched his ideas to Pink Floyd and manager Steve O’Rourke in the Abbey Road canteen, and received a round of applause (“The last time that ever happened,” he grumbles). Storm’s final brainwave was to conceal the sleeve in black cellophane wrapping. “So not only was the theme absence, but the cover was absent. EMI were not impressed. But after we stuck a cow on the front of Atom Heart Mother they knew that anything to do with Pink Floyd was difficult.” (Mark Blake, MOJO, 2011)
EYE OF (THE)
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
COVER TO COVER
THE MARS VOLTA
BURY THE HATCHET 1999
FRANCES THE MUTE 2005
“Doing Bury The Hatchet was alarming,” says Storm Thorgerson, “because for some reason I had wanted red earth and Australia was too far away, Namibia was too dangerous, so I elected to go to Monument Valley, which I knew and was easy to get to. But as we came out of Flagstaff – one of the nearest towns – it was snowing, there were icicles on the trees and I thought: ‘This is a bit of a fuck. What am I possibly going to say to the band? Sorry, no picture.’ We drove the two hours down to Monument Valley and luckily the snow went away and it was beautiful – absolutely gorgeous. But as we were photographing a naked white man with the eye of surveillance hovering above him, who should suddenly appear around the corner but a Navajo Indian in his truck – black hair down to his knees, with a face like a slab of granite. He jumped out of his car, walked up behind me, put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘I confiscate all your gear.’ I thought: ‘Oh, my God, what am I going to tell the band?’ Then he burst into laughter and we exchanged email addresses! It was hilarious! But for that one second when he said ‘you're on sacred ground; you have naked white man on Indian sacred ground’ we were all very nervous!” (Matt Johns, Brain Damage, 2011)
With Storm Thorgerson often being described as the Magritte of the music industry, and with the cover of The Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute seeming to reference two paintings by René Magritte (i.e. The Lovers I & The Lovers II), I was curious to find out more about Storm’s fascination for the Belgian artist. “Yes, but Frances the Mute is not at all a reference to Magritte”, he replies. “If anything, it’s a reference to terrorism – except these are terrorists who are fashion-conscious so they have velvet hoods. It’s about people who think they know where they’re going (that’s why they’re driving a car) but don’t really (that’s why they’ve got a hood up). So what I wanted people to ask themselves: ‘Why do these characters think they know where they’re going but couldn’t possibly because they’ve got a hood on?’ Tell me, what kind of people are those?” After a one-minute guessing-game in which I insult several professions and nationalities, Storm puts me out of my misery: “It’s about addicts! Nearly all addicts think they’re in charge of things: ‘No, really, it’s okay, I’m fine, I know exactly what I’m doing.’ But of course they don’t. The Mars Volta sings about this on Frances the Mute, and it was also around this time that one of their friends overdosed on heroin. So I was trying to tell story about addiction – in reference to both the lyrics as to what had happened in The Mars Volta’s personal life.” (Ben Van Alboom, dS Weekblad, 2012)
PETER GABRIEL “SCRATCH” 1978 The thing about the first three Peter Gabriel albums is that they have no title – leaving the fans to talk about ‘the first album’, ‘the second album’ and ‘the third album’. Obviously they got fed up with that so they named all three albums after the instant legendary artwork Hipgnosis designed for them: the first one is now unofficially called Car, the second is called Scratch and number three is referred to as Melt. Storm Thorgerson: “One of Hipgnosis’ obsessions, meaning a theme often explored (not necessarily anything pathological) was the 2D/3D conundrum – how to suggest a 3D component to an essentially 2D event that is a picture. If we are absolutely sure that a picture has only two dimensions, then it follows that any suggestion of three dimensions is going to seem unlikely – if not impossible. Peter Gabriel’s second album shows Peter thrusting his hands out and back onto the photo surface and scratching or tearing it into strips, revealing the white base behind. We took the picture quite quickly near our studio but then spent ages cutting and tearing strips of white paper that covered the studio like tickertape. We stuck them onto Peter’s photo, adjusting and re-tearing to have them ‘join’ his fingers, then tarting it up with Tipp-Ex before re-photographing it all so it became one piece. Now, I don’t seriously expect anyone to be fooled into thinking that Peter is actually doing all this reaching out and back onto his photo; only that they may be temporarily bemused and mentally entertained by the impossibility of it. Then again, you can never tell with folks. Hopefully if they don’t like the 2D/3D game, they might enjoy Peter looking odd or even the graphics of the very white wiggly lines traversing a dark moody background. You can never tell.” (For the Love of Vinyl, Picturebox, 2008)
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MY LIFE AS A FAN
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
CARL DE KEYZER: “One day I’ll make a record. Sorry about that.” Exactly 376 meters from where A&Gallery is vacationing this summer, Magnum photographer Carl de Keyzer is presenting his new (and rather large-scale) exhibition Moments Before the Flood – an impressive foray into places that may one day disappear when sea levels start to rise. In other words: an excellent occasion to talk to the Belgian photographer about the groupie who lives inside him.
Words: Ben Van Alboom Photography: Wouter Van Vaerenbergh
It was your typical Belgian Sunday morning in May when we met up with Carl de Keyzer in Ostend to talk about the artists he loves. Strong winds? Check. Rain? Of course. Frost? The jury is still out on that but quite likely. Luckily, walking into the enormous exhibition space that houses Moments Before the Flood and watching that massive boat wreck outside totally made up for the weather. As a matter of fact: the exhibition is so imposing that it would be just rude not to ask where you got the idea for it? Carl: “Some six years ago, the performing arts centre Concertgebouw in Bruges asked me to shoot some images for its upcoming season’s catalogue. They also set forward two restrictions: stick to the theme – ‘water’ – and don’t picture people. I ended up traveling up and down the Belgian coast right around the same time those reports started to surface about how sea levels would unavoidably rise and consume large parts of the world. Then it just hit me – standing on a beach in Blankenberge – how that would make for a great series. In the end, over the course of sixteen months, I photographed thousands of beaches, castles, fire towers and rocks all over Europe – imagining I would be the very last person to stand there and see them; right before the flood would erase them from memory.”
Which explains the menacing unruliness of the pictures. Is that a characteristic which is also present in the work of your all-time favorite photographer? Carl: “Hardly. My all-time favorite photographer is Garry Winogrand. For me, as a young photographer, he was the first who was able to convey exactly what he was thinking in his work – and yes, I like photography that puts the photographer’s emotions and thoughts across. I want to see how a photographer feels about a certain person or situation. Does he like someone or really hate him? I want to get a sense of that through his work. Maybe that sounds easy but trust me: it isn’t. Especially not in the case of Winogrand, who had a knack for complex situations. He often created order from chaos without turning real-life situations into abstract case studies. With Winogrand, you always knew what a picture was about and how he felt about it. I definitely learned a lot from him.” Any living photographer who inspires you? Carl: “Quite a few actually. Take Alec Soth: there’s a certain minimalism to his work for which I truly admire him – the art of making the most powerful image with the least possible information. Compared to Alec, I’m much more like a painter: always adding drama to a situation.” Is either Winogrand or Soth the author of your favorite photo book? Carl: “No. That would be William Klein, whose brilliant photo book
Moscow I don’t own myself – unfortunately. (first edition prints of the book easily sell for over €1,000 on eBay; go fetch!) I’ve always been a huge admirer of the way Klein was able to immerse him in the crowd and, amidst the chaos, take a picture at the exact right moment. He wasn’t like Henri Cartier-Bresson or other famous Magnum photographers who might have waited an hour to avoid the chaos so they could be certain to take the perfect picture. He just went for it – fully aware of the fact that it would be impossible for him to control every single aspect of the photo he was about to take. Also, I’ve lived in Russia for three years and must have visited Moscow about twenty-five times in my life. So as far as the subject matter of the book is concerned, I’m a little biased.” Let’s talk cinema! Carl: “Yes, please! I’m a big movie buff. I used to live next to Studio Skoop in Ghent, and there were times in my life you could find me there every single night. Nowadays I only visit cinemas when they’re playing something I have to see on the big screen. All other movies I just watch on Blu-ray in my home cinema theatre – up in the attic. Although I must admit to checking out Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows on the big screen recently. Can’t say I was very impressed though: lame story, weak performances, just a terrible movie.” Which director has yet to disappoint you? Carl: “I used to be really into Fellini,
Visconti, Pasolini, … These days I’d have to say David Lynch – probably not the most original answer but I just find his surreal realism truly fascinating.” Talking about surrealism: any chance there’s a Storm Thorgerson album cover in your record collection? Carl: “Of course! I’m a huge music lover and vinyl collector so obviously I own quite a few of his designs. I started working in my dad’s record store when I was eight and Beatlemania was in full swing. Then I switched to hard rock – listening to Black Sabbath and Deep Purple – before becoming addicted to Pink Floyd, Yes, Todd Rundgren and other prog rock artists. Later on as an art student I only listened to jazz – obviously. I had this thing for ECM (legendary German jazz label) and bought pretty much everything they put out. Only trouble was they had some six hundred releases per year. (laughs) I still have about a thousand ECM records so that actually turned out to be quite a good investment.” What about classical music? Carl: “That came up next – alongside opera. I even listened to nothing but classical music and opera for a couple of years, before being saved by my iPod’s shuffle function. Today I’m mostly into electronica: Amon Tobin, Aphex Twin, Apparat. I also have my own music studio – including some fifty synthesizers; almost as many as Soulwax. One of the things on my bucket list is to make an album be-
fore I’m 65. I’m pretty sure it’ll be really bad, although I like to think I’m still evolving. Every time there’s a kid in my studio twisting knobs, I’m picking things up. So let’s just wait what happens: maybe it won’t be a complete disaster after all.” Definitely not a complete disaster was the photo gallery you and Dirk Braeckman used to run in Ghent: the legendary XYZ. Carl: “No, but to be brutally honest: it wasn’t a big hit either. Yes, we exhibited the work of Garry Winogrand, Ed Van der Elsken, Martin Parr, Larry Clark, but I think we sold about five pictures in seven years time – at dumping prices! You could get a Larry Clark print from us for one hundred euro and nobody wanted it! True, that was a lot of money in the eighties but you would be able to get $30,000 for it today. But it was just too soon. It was only around 1990 that art collectors started to show genuine interest in photography. We shut XYZ down in 1989. (laughs) Fortunately, we never did it for the money. It was basically the only way to see the work of all these great photographers in Belgium. There were no photo museums; you had maybe one or two other photo galleries in the rest of the country. Bottom line: if we didn’t do it, nobody did.” For the record: glad you did!
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
THINGS TO DO IN OSTEND MOMENTS BEFORE THE FLOOD
OSTEND BEACH Ostend Beach is moving – from one beach to another. More importantly though: for the first time in its history, the dance festival is no longer an all-Belgian affair. On Saturday July 7, world-renowned electronic music pimp Felix Da Housecat is headlining the main stage of the sun-drenched carnival with UK drum & bass sovereigns Sigma taking care of the second stage (The Dome) and fellow countrymen Copyright are in charge of the third (Krush Beach). Also on the massive line-up are Belgian rave/tech/urban/house/loud kids Mumbai Science, Sound of Stereo, Murdock, Eptic, Buscemi, TLP, Yamo and dozens more. Plus: every fresh high school graduate gets in for free – seriously! ostendbeach.be
“Carl de Keyzer skillfully alternates ominous premonitions of doom with seemingly carefree seaside snaps”, says author David Van Reybrouck about Moments Before the Flood (see page 12). “This creates suspense – not of impending doom but of its absence. A subliminal tension that makes trivial subjects tragic and everyday sights hilarious. De Keyzer is not interested in capturing the disaster, but the waiting for the disaster.” The Belgian photographer’s exhibition Moments Before the Flood runs until Sunday August 26 at Maritieme Site, Slipwaykaai 4, Oosteroever. The book of the same name is published by Lannoo. carldekeyzer.com & lannoo.be
07 JULI 2012
STRAND OOSTENDE FELIX DA HOUSECAT Copyrıght / SIGMA Feat. MC DARRISON #BEAUFORT04
SOUND OF STEREO / MUMBAI SCIENCE Murdock / BUSCEMI / Laurent Wery / TLP / DiMaro € 25 € 49
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© Jimmy Kets
© Jimmy Kets
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VU: VZW LA PLAGE D’OSTENDE - KONINGSSTRAAT 40 - 8400 OOSTENDE
And many more...
To be brutally honest: the fourth edition of this Triennial of Contemporary Art by the Sea doesn’t just take place in Ostend. Until September 30, here is work on display all along the Belgian coast – easily making this the biggest outdoor art happening in Belgium (and the best possible excuse to cheat on your sunbathing spouse). Participating artists include Arne Quinze, Erwin Wurm, Isaac Cordal, Melita Couta and … you! Beaufort is calling on visitors to take Instagram pictures of the works on display. Just point, shoot, choose a flashy filter and hashtag it with #beaufort04. If you have absolutely no idea what that means, visit the triennial’s website for more information, step into the 21st century, convince renowned photographer Jimmy Kets of your talent and win an iPad – not to mention instant fame – in the process! beaufort04.be
He’s Frank Sinatra of Belgium – basically. In the ’60s Will Tura sold millions of records (to poor helpless women who spent their lifesavings on them). In the ‘70s he was the first Belgian artist to sell out major concert halls (and he still does). In the ‘80s he paid tribute to the King – Elvis Presley, not the bloke in Brussels (although he got knighted by him anyway). In ‘90s he started to rap (which may sound a bit weird now but back then ‘adding some rap’ was the same as ‘throwing in a little dubstep’). In the ‘00s he narrowly missed the cut for the TV show 100 Greatest Belgians (to his defense: he was up against Father Damien, Jacques Brel, René Magritte, Django Reinhardt and some people who do sports). Finally, in the ‘10s he will get his own proper coffee table book and accompanying exhibition from July 6 until August 19 in the Koninklijke Gaanderijen at the Ostend sea bank. Both are called Een leven in beeld – Dutch for A Life In Pictures. eenleveninbeeld.be
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
“It’s Goose, not Ducks.” Meet the only Belgium band that has a shot at ever getting mentioned in some cool coffee table book called The Greatest Album Covers of All Time in the Universe. You know, the type of book you buy when you have run out of ideas about what to get your colleague at work for his birthday (or you stumble into Colette and everything else is too expensive but you feel you just have to buy something). Anyway, never mind Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Genesis and The Winkies, here’s Goose!
Mickael: “Well, what I like about his work is that he takes you on a journey. With every album cover you get to experience something different, something mysterious. Storm always leaves you with more questions than answers and that’s really what I have come to expect from great artwork. Plus: that’s precisely how we looked at Synrise. We knew it wasn’t the easiest album to get into and we wanted the artwork to convey that sense of mystique.”
Words: Ben Van Alboom Photography: Wouter Van Vaerenbergh
In case you’ve been living on a different planet or still consider electronic music to be the work of the devil: in 2010 Belgian band Goose hired Storm Thorgerson to design the cover of its sophomore album Synrise (see page 8). That same year, the boys took home the MIA (Music Industry Award) for Best Artwork. Now, to coincide with Storm’s exhibition in Ostend, they’re set to release a special picture disc featuring the award-winning artwork (and an unreleased remix from Soulwax)! Yet you guys weren’t even born when Storm was already having record executives for breakfast, lunch and dinner. How did you decide upon working with him? Mickael Karkousse: “I should probably say something like ‘he’s been on our list for years’ but the truth is that we were in the studio mixing the album and I just happened to walk by when Dave (Martijn) was checking out Storm’s website on his laptop – basically killing time. I had no idea who
he was but I was immediately blown away by his work. Having said that, if I’d walked by five minutes later we might have sent Anton Corbijn an email. It all happened very spontaneously – there was no Big Plan.” So that’s how you got Storm’s attention: you sent him an email? Mickael: “Yeah. It was on his website. (laughs) Of course you don’t really expect to get an answer from a guy like that so an hour later we kind of already forgot about it. Imagine our surprise when he replied that same day! The funny thing was though that he – in turn – didn’t expect to receive an email from us – the band. It was only when we spoke on the phone for ten minutes that he realized I wasn’t Goose’s manager or label boss. All of a sudden he sounded a lot more friendly. (laughs) I guess he’s been through record company hell a few times too many in his life and finds it more pleasant to talk to bands directly. Or maybe musicians just get intimidated quicker and say
SHOP IT LIKE IT’S HOT Apart from Goose’s limited edition picture disc, an extensive list of other cool vinyl records, books, CDs, DVDs, Blurays, Lomography & Polaroid cameras, magazines, etcetera will be available at Fort Napoleon. A (very) small selection!
‘yes’ to pretty much every crazy idea that pops up in his head – contrary to managers who probably start panicking about the budget from the moment he utters one word.”
Did you meet up with Storm to discuss all this? Mickael: “We sent him a rough mix of the album, after which he asked us to come to London and have dinner with him. It was the weirdest dinner ever. I mean it was more like ‘an interrogation with food’. He wanted to know everything about us: where we grew up, how we met, what inspires us, who does what in the band. At one point he even asked us if we considered an album cover to be a forest or just a tree. To this day, I have no idea what he meant by that.’
So did you say ‘yes’ to the first crazy idea that popped up in Storm’s mind? Mickael: “Well, no. But we knew we had to give him creative control and to not worry about the budget or what he would eventually come up with. Working with someone like Storm, you just go with it. We also felt it was the right time to do something – well – sizeable. We were used to making music in our own little studio but for Synrise we got to work in a really expensive one and all the while it felt like we were living in the ‘90s – you know, that magical time in record company history when the sky wasn’t even the limit. We wanted the album cover to reflect that.”
I would have said tree. I think. Anyway, when did the pyramid come into play? Mickael: “He quickly sent a couple of ideas our way. Some he already had lying around, others were the result of our meeting – like the one with the pyramid. We’d told him the songs on the album were the result of long jam sessions, which got him thinking of jazz musicians and being in the groove. So basically the ‘landing strip’ – Dave told Storm how much he loves landing strips – represents the groove of a vinyl record and the pyramid up in the sky is actually a record player needle. We loved the idea right away but surprisingly enough it wasn’t Storm’s favourite. He liked the one with a duck in it. He thought it was hilarious: Goose doing a duck. It actually took quite some convincing to talk him out of it.” (laughs)
You were looking for large-scale theatricality?
There’s this rumour that Storm let’s people pay what they want for
M M 12 0 2 0
Goose are set to release a limited 12” picture disc of Synrise – including Storm’s epic artwork and an exclusive Soulwax remix. 2ManyDJs have been playing the remix in their sets for a couple of months now but it never got a proper release – until now, that is. The picture disc will be available in the A&Gallery gift shop inside Fort Napoleon – while stocks last!
a cover design. Is that true? Mickael: “Really? I guess we weren’t that lucky. How it worked was: the restaurant where we had the meeting has a number of his album covers hanging on the wall. He tells you how much each of them cost to make and then you – in order to give him an indication of your budget – pick one that’s within your range. À la carte!”
The album Synrise was released in 2010, the title song struck gold in 2011, why wait until now to release a picture disc with Storm’s instant legendary artwork? Mickael: “Because it never seemed like the right time to do it. With every new album, a million ideas are put on the table but you only have time to realize a couple. Making a picture disc was one of those things put on hold – just like painting Storm’s artwork on a piano. We’re still waiting for an occasion to do the thing with the piano but the Storm exhibition in Ostend gave us the perfect excuse to do the picture disc.”
Lomography has put a fresh spin on a much loved classic: La Sardina! Inspired by the nonchalant flamboyance of the early days of SaintTropez, the Beach Edition has been designed using multicolored pieces of deck chair cloth – each cut differently to ensure that no two versions of the camera are exactly the same.
Including the much sought after Soulwax remix of Synrise. Mickael: “Finally! For years, we’ve talked to them about doing a remix for us but there was never any – probably their worst enemy – time. Then they finally came up with this brilliant remix for Synrise, but the EP had already hit shops so we didn’t know what to do with it – until now.”
We’re stepping up our partnership with Fotoshop – the Ghent photo & print shop that has taken care of prints for our Sophie van der Perre, Angels & Ghosts, Phoneography and Jessica Yatrofsky exhibitions. Not only will we continue to work with them, we will also start selling a selection of their Lomography and Polaroid cameras at our exhibitions. Fotoshop, Steendam 59, 9000 Gent, fotoshopgent.be
In the meantime you guys are back on the road – getting everyone excited for the new album, which will be out after the summer. Do you already have a cover for it? Mickael: “Working on it. We’ve asked Pierre Debusschere (one of Belgium’s most talented fashion photographers) to make a live clip for every track on the new album. Chances are the cover will – in some way – reference those performances and further underline in what way live sets have become part of Goose’s DNA. We’ve even made sure the new album sounds much more like Goose gig – rougher and tougher!”
THE IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT
REFURBISHED ROUND 600 CAMERA KIT
All you need to get started with instant photography. An original refurbished Polaroid 600 camera, one pack of brand new Impossible PX 680 Cool color shade instant film and the Impossible Frog Tongue for perfect shielding of your images, already fitted to the camera.
La Sardina – Beach Edition
THE STORY OF WISH YOU WERE HERE
In John Edginton’s brand new documentary The Story of Wish You Were Here, the band discusses the album’s theme of absence, the greed of the music business and former band member Syd Barrett. Also featured are sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson, guest vocalist Roy Harper, front cover ‘burning man’ Ronnie Rondell and others involved in the creation of the album. The Story of Wish You Were Here is available in the A&Gallery Shop on DVD and Blu-ray.
ALL THAT JAZZ
Vol. II – Nr. 1 – 2012
TOOTS THIELEMANS THE BIG COVER-UP
Here’s what you need to do to win a three-day trip for two to New York at the end of September and attend the Toots Thielemans: Celebrating 90 Years concert at Lincoln Center. Go to redbullelektropedia.com/toots90, download a sound snippet of Bluesette and produce a breathtakingly stunning remix that will blow the jury’s mind and send serious jazz lovers to the loony bin. Deadline: July 14!
The winning remix will get a proper vinyl release – precisely ninety 12” records will be manufactured with the remix on one side and the original version on the other. Come July 27 (when the winning remix will be announced), graphic designers and photographers can start sending in their ideas for the cover of the vinyl release. The winning designer/photographer gets €500 + a copy of the vinyl record. Hell, he might even get two! Deadline: August 14!
It’s probably not going to get aired on MTV but who cares? Starting July
27, young filmmakers are invited to send in their music video treatments for the remix. The winner gets €2000 (and about five weeks) to make the video. Deadline: August 14!
In order to win one of the above prizes, you will have to convince the following jazzy individuals: Moonlight Matters (producer), Alex Deforce (On-Point), Nathalie Teirlinck (filmmaker), Pieter De Kegel (Not Another Graphic Designer) and Ben Van Alboom (A&Gallery).
The competition Toots Needs Another Version is a co-production of Red Bull Elektropedia, The Academy (by Borgerhoff & Lamberigts), A&Gallery and Toots’ management. Info: redbullelektropedia.be/toots90 or toots90.be
(GENT) JAZZ & PHOTOGRAPHY William Claxton, Herman Leonard, William Gottlieb, the list of legendary jazz photographers is long and impressive. Equally impressive is the list of musicians who – over the years – played at Gent Jazz: Gil Scott-Heron, Cinematic Orchestra, John Zorn, Marc Moulin, Terence Blanchard, Us3, Toots Thielemans, Amon Tobin, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Roberto Fonseca, Erykah Badu and DJ Shadow are really just the first who pop to mind. From June 22 until July 24, our colleagues over at Flinxo are looking back at some of those instant legendary Gent Jazz moments with an exhibition called Jazz & Photography. They’ve asked eight photographers (Jos Knaepen, Bruno Bollaert, Tom Van Nuffel, Wouter Rawoens, Maarten Marchau, Cees van de Ven, Christian Overdeput, Dominique Dierick and Thomas Verfaille) to handpick their best pictures from previous Gent Jazz editions and put on view how much magic they can perform during those infamous – Claxton had it easy – ‘first three songs; no flash’. Also, don’t forget to check out this year’s Gent Jazz festival from July 5 until July 14 with – amongst many others – Antony and the Johnsons, Melody Gardot, Amatorski, tindersticks, D’Angelo, Wayne Shorter Quartet and Bobby Womack. Flinxo, Ottogracht 38, Gent. f linxo.com Gent Jazz, De Bijloke, Gent. gentjazz.com
© Thomas Verfaille
Toots Thielemans is celebrating his 90th birthday this year – ninety and still going strong! Plus: it’s been exactly fifty years since the legendary Belgian jazz musician topped the international charts with his tune Bluesette. In other words: two excellent reasons for Red Bull Elektropedia, The Academy and A&Gallery to do a remix/video/artwork contest. The prize(s)? A trip to New York, a €2000 budget to create a video for the winning remix or €500 to design a cover for its exclusive vinyl release!
WHY PINK FLOYD?
OUT NOW THE CLASSIC CATALOGUE REISSUED – 14 CLASSIC STUDIO ALBUMS (REMASTERED & REPACKAGED) –
DISCOVERY 14 ALBUM BOX SET – IN UNIQUE DELUXE BOX – INCLUDES 60 PAGE STORM THORGERSON BOOK
A FOOT IN THE DOOR – THE BEST OF PINK FLOYD – 16 CLASSIC TRACKS ON ONE CD
THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
– 2 DISC EXPERIENCE EDITION, INCLUDES LIVE AT WEMBLEY 1974 – 6 DISC IMMERSION BOX SET & VINYL LP
WISH YOU WERE HERE
– 2 DISC EXPERIENCE EDITION, INCLUDES LIVE & UNRELEASED TRACKS – 5 DISC IMMERSION BOX SET, SACD & VINYL LP
– 3 DISC EXPERIENCE EDITION – 7 DISC IMMERSION BOX SET & VINYL LP
To accompany the first Belgian Storm Thorgerson exhibition (which takes place from June 22 until September 1 in Fort Napoleon, Ostend), A&Ga...
Published on Jun 20, 2012
To accompany the first Belgian Storm Thorgerson exhibition (which takes place from June 22 until September 1 in Fort Napoleon, Ostend), A&Ga...