Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Working With Quantic

I have had the pleasure of knowing William "Quantic" Holland for a few years now and it has been an honor to work on two of his albums as graphic designer. He is so talented and prolific, you would think he would be a manic, frantic person, but in reality, the dude is mellow and patient, and great a juggling a million people and projects at once, internationally - a great guy to work with and someone who is always questing, always experimenting. I wanted to share some pictures with you of Quantic's latest tour, as well as some images from the last two albums in their developmental stages. If you have not heard "Tradition In Transition" and its predecessor "Tropidelico" - both on the Tru Thoughts label out of the UK - well, I highly recommend you get a hold of them right now! Sheer pleasure and genius rolled into one effortless mix of styles and genres - a safari for your soul (not to mention your booty). I have to say, the music is incredible, and you might want to get the vinyl LP version because (a) you get the CD tucked into the sleeve, and (b) you get to see the wonderful collage illustrations in a big satisfying format - they are works of art really - by Symon Warwick - and the intense photographs of B+ as well (Will also takes beautifully tattered snap shots as well). My role for the "Tropidelico" project was to come up with the overall album design as well as the lettering. On "Trad In Trans", my part was smaller (I didn't have much time and working long distance had its drawbacks) - though I put a lot of work into it initially on the overall design - but in the end, I felt my role was very satisfying and successful; I ended up coming up with the band's new "logo" (see the T-shirt and other places it has cropped up) and the title lettering for the cover. We went through a lot of brain-storming sessions, back and forth, up and down, emails and such like. It was decided that I would concentrate on the lettering, much to everybody's relief, I think. Down in Cali, Colombia, they came up with the overall layout design, which ended up being similar to my original graphic concept (i.e. black with white knockout sans serif font), so it all came full circle in the end which was nice - with the photos, music, and liner notes, as you see, it hangs together quite well, in what I think is Will's best project yet. So, when I heard from a friend that Quantic was actually going to be performing near me with his original South American studio band from the album, I jumped up and down, called my DJ partner in crime Andujar (b. rule), and we planned an impromptu trip down to NYC to help celebrate the Turntables On The Hudson Anniversary party!! It was a last minute affair, and I have to say, against the odds, we pulled it off with flying colors. Going to Governor's Island in New York to hear the band live, to dance the night away, and meet the fabulous players, singers and DJs, was an unforgettable experience. Once we were let back stage, we mingled with the crew and got a taste of what was to come later that night. Talking shop with the funkiest drummer alive, Mr. Malcolm Catto, was a real thrill (he was of course freshly back from record hunting on that other island, Manhattan), as was getting to meet my idol, the Peruvian pianist extra-ordinaire, Alfredito Linares. The other members of Quantic's Combo Bárbaro were equally open and willing to hang out - I especially enjoyed chilling with talented, warm, and kind bassist Fernando Silva, the spiritually deep and fun-loving percussionist Freddie Colorado, and the beautiful and sparkly singer Nidia Góngora, plus, Mr. B+ was in the house, which was great to link up with him after collaborating 3rd hand. Also talked about Latin album covers with Beto and Nappy G, which was fun. Once the DJs started cranking, there was no turning back, and then the band got busy, and it was a magical musical mystical tour through Panama City, San Juan, Lagos, Cali, Havana, and Detroit! The audience was feelin' it, I was transported, DJ Andujar had a huge Cheshire Cat grin on his mug, and we all got sweaty and were deep into the music as one for the night. This one drunken glady was really twirling and twirling, I was afraid she was going to fall over. There were a lot of Colombianos in the crowd, so you know they were getting off. When it was all over we were exhausted and happy. On the way back from Governor's Island, on the ferry at midnight, we had an impromptu cumbia jam session, singing funny raggedy-ass songs about drinking till dawn, and the regular passengers really got into the infectious mood. As usual, DJ Nickodemus, whose event this was, held everything together in his gracious, warm way - many talented DJs (Frankie Francis, Beto from the Soundway compilations, Paolo, Busqueto) spun great records, Nappy G of TTOTH and Groove Collective was on percussion, there was a tropical downpour, and Ellis Island (as seen through the neon palm tree of the artificial "beach" in front of the stage)appeared like this exotic island mirage in the after shower sunset, beckoning in the Tropidelico haze. A night of pure magic to remember! Below are some photos we took with Fernando Silva's camera, and a few he sent from later points on their tour.
A very big & warm "Muchas Gracias" to Will, Nicko, Fernando, Freddy, Alfredito, Malcolm, B+, DJ "Frankie Francis" Merritt, the True Thoughts crew, Nappy G, Mariano, the City of New York and Parks & Recreation, all the fans and Hell, just everybody at the event. You all made it special, not to be forgotten.

Nickodemus, DJ?, Andujar, Fernando, Quantic, and Bongohead

Bongohead, Andujar, Fernando

The Combo, friends, crew backstage

The Extended members of Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro, Paris, France

My sketches for Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro logo

The booklet "spread' with Cali, Colombia (©B+), and Will's notes

One of B+'s great photos used in the layout

Symon Warwick's excellent cover art, without the lettering that I added later

One of the great Colombian t-shirts using my logo

An illustration I found with someone using my logo - looks nice!

The Tropidelico cover in all its glory!

My logo for the Tropidelico album, based on some lettering from the Peruvian label MAG

I really loved making this panel for the CD - I call it the musicians' panel - but it got shrunk down really small for the CD booklet

These are some inspirations for my lettering designs from T in T and Tropidelico

An early version of the Tropidelico cover

A color photo from the Tropidelico sessions - Alfredito Linares

This is back of the Tropidelico LP - so great to work on a larger canvas!

An idea for the CD tray inner insert with funky drummer Malcolm Catto