News: 10/20/2009  

Morgan Blair + Small Black

During the week Morgan Blair spent at Luce Loft, she had one particular album on repeat while she was painting, eating pizza or organizing dirt samples.  I caught a song or two coming and going throughout the installation and event, finally asking her, "who is this?"  "Small Black", Morgan said, as she showed me the insane cover art she just finished for the band's debut release.
A handful of us all got burned copies of the EP with a few extra tracks before Morgan left, and I honestly haven't stopped listening to them.  Small Black's EP dropped last week on their Brooklyn-based label, Cass Club.  Below is a short interview with Josh from Small Black and Morgan about the cover art and their collaboration.
How did you come across Morgan's work?
Josh: Our bandmate Juan was wandering around an art opening/concert and saw Morgan's painting of a psychedelic donut and immediately approached her. Juan sent me a link to her site and I was totally enthralled with the fun & skill of her work. My friend Seth Hoercher had also posted one of her images on his blog of animal art a few months before, which I found out later.

What about Morgan's style made you pick her to design Small Black's debut release?
Josh: The second I saw her painting of the Pussing Donut Mushroom Cloud, I knew I wanted her to design our record cover. It's a gorgeous and insane image with wild color combined to make some sort of alien world of the future where fruit loops float among sweet-tasting icebergs.  As I looked further into her portfolio, I was hard pressed to find anything I didn't like.

Morgan does an amazing job of balancing cruddy low quality images with skillful & precise work. Her illustration series Modified Scenes from My Childhood where she
overlayed precise geometric patterns on top of beautiful renderings of old home movies is a perfect example.  I saw a real similarity in what Small Black was attempting to do with our music in all her work. Trying to find that middle ground between what is both hazy & unclear, yet still bold, colorful & direct.

I couldn't have had more fun working with Morgan on the cover either. After about 32 falafels & 60 bottles of seltzer this summer, we finally finished it. Can't wait to work with her again for the full length LP next year! We've already have brainstorming ideas!

What initial themes and ideas did you and Josh discuss?  Walk us through the process behind the final product?

Morgan: We started, I think, when Josh asked me to do the cover of a single for Weird Machines, and then as a side thought wanted to see if I had any thoughts on the cover he was working on for their full-length.  It was totally cool and minimal, with these little wire letters he had bent to say SMALL BLACK resting in the middle of a sea-foam green paper background.  We were switching up the background by scanning different colored papers, and not being completely satisfied with any of them we then spent a whole afternoon constructing a tiny casio out of the wire Josh had left over from the letters.  When that didn't really look right on the cover, and then a tiny clear plastic horse didn't look right either, we were sort of at a loss and just scanned some holographic paper for fun.

As it turns out holographic paper looks totally crazy when it's scanned, like each shape in the holograph pattern refracts a different color of light as it's being scanned, and digitally manifested it's like this field of rainbow gradient pattern.  So we started forming letters from the shapes in this one sheet and eventually we thought we had a real "banger" as was and still always seems to be the term used.  But then, someone in the general crew realized it looked too similar to another band's cover, so we basically started from scratch again.  We were getting together like once a week or so geek out on our computers to the tune of Bros and the Human Leage and Black Moon, taking breaks as needed for amenities (falafel, seltzer and chocolate being the most common).  We realized pretty quickly that a new constellation font over a bitmapped galaxy was going to be the way to go, and then we just had the back cover to figure out.  Josh thought it should be a pretty recognizable continuation of the front pattern so we settled on a similar rainforest-party looking hollo-pattern.  After a brief stint with PixChicago, we added some stripes and another block of galaxy with a constellation track listing, and ran it by Juan and Ryan.  And we've been totally bonkers on it ever since. 

I ended up formatting it (incorrectly) for the template from a coffee shop in Chicago on our way back East from San Diego, and we finally finalized everything a couple weeks ago.  I intend to get one in my little hands tonight at the release, FINALLY!

You can purchase Small Black's EP from Insound here.  If you're on the East Coast for the CMJ Festival, you can catch Small Black playing every night of this week.  Check their myspace for locations.

Small Black - 'Despicable Dogs'

Small Black - 'Weird Machines'

Tags: Brooklyn, Morgan Blair, Small Black, Cover Art, CMJ, Cass Club

No Comments

Leave a comment

Sezio will never publish your information