april 2002

part 1 of 1

how did you get into art?
it's something i've been into as long as i can remember. i dropped out of school and ended up at art college, doing sculpture mainly.

what happened after art college?
after leaving college i was very disillusioned by the art thing and worked in graphic design and also took more of a musical direction. i completed a programming and live performance course at community music, london, very closely linked to asian dub foundation, the bassist taught there and the mc and live programmer / fx player were students there.

you have a really strong style, how did that develop?
dunno, really, just evolved naturally, with a few influences.

like who?
people like keith haring (american artist, famous for his brightly-coloured paintings with 'jelly baby' style characters), henry matisse and diego rivero (south american muralist painter). i'm also into a lot of eastern stuff and ethiopian art.

your paintings nearly always involve these funny-looking characters, who are they?
i suppose they're just observations, things i see or pick up around me. i watch people and might get an idea from the way they're standing or their posture, for example this one...(shows me a painting of a girl sat with her head in her hands) i got from a girl who was sat opposite me on the tube. i get ideas from people round the market or from magazines and stuff. i saw something recently in a clothes advert...i do a lot of sketches of characters or ideas that just come into my head.

how do you work, do you use computers much?
no, a lot of people think i do but everything is hand drawn. i start off with pencil sketches and then paint it.

what sort of music are you into?
i 'm really into music. i love reggae, roots and dub stuff. i 've played in samba bands and stuff. i 'm currently rehearsing with a maracatu band (north brazilian street drumming). i listen to a lot of new jazz stuff, my favourite album at the moment is 'new conceptions of jazz' by bugge wesseltofts. i like hefner, the other one, not the indie one. i 'm also into hip-hop, like mos def and hi-tec, people like that. music is a massive influence on me.

what sort of things has your artwork been used for?
obviously i mainly sell my prints on the market - prices range from £30-£80. i 've also done loads of flyers, for ministry of sound and some record sleeves, i 've just done one for a new roots and reggae compilation album called 'seven inch roots.' there's loads of t-shirts i 've done as well that you can buy on the market. plus of course the bravecaptain stuff.

so the bravecaptain did that come about?
martin just bought some of my work off the market. he bought about about six pieces i think, including the two pieces that he used on the single sleeve (the artwork featured on the front and back of the 'better living through reckless experimentation' single). after he bought the pieces he just rang me up and said could he use a couple of the pieces for the sleeve. i didn't know a great deal about him at the time, although i 'd heard of the boo radleys.

what do you think of the bravecaptain stuff?
i like it. my favourite bravecaptain track is 'you and me glue,' i love that. it's a bit different to the normal stuff i like but the thing i love is that it's always very creative. there's many different ingredients there...i mean there's drum n'bass and stuff on the new album.

tell me about the new artwork you're doing for bravecaptain.
there's the album sleeve, which is the main thing i've been working on. he rang me up and said could i do something for the new album and also for the new single. he said it could either be something i 'd already done or a new piece. i sent him about half a dozen designs and he picked this one (shows print). it's a piece based on a sketch i did two or three years ago. i had a finished piece done about six months ago.

the finished version is very different to that original piece.
yeah. martin asked me to re-do it with a few changes, like get rid of the floor and he asked for a blue background. martin loves vibrant colours. i don't know why he picked this one, you'd have to ask him!

why the melodica?
it's just an instrument i 've always loved (he's even got one hanging from his wall). i 've loved it since my reggae days, augustus pablo and stuff like that.

he remixed a boo radleys single you know.
no way! you're kidding.

yeah, 'lazarus'. there's seems to be a bit of musical overlap between you and martin?
i dunno, we've never really talked about it. i like to think there's a bit of music in all my artwork.

what about the one he used on the back of the 'better living...' sleeve, what's this about? (it's the one of the bald bloke in a round chair).
i dunno if this is being used as more of a logo? i've seen it on the website. i just loved those chairs, like the bubble chairs. they can hang from the ceiling like the plastic ones or even the whicker ones you could get.

who is he?
dunno. people say different things, like he looks like buddha. but i 've done a sumo wrsetler as well and people say he's buddha too. i guess i 'm just into the eastern thing.

there's no obvious direct connection between martin's titles or lyrics and stuff and your sleeves, is there? and you didn't create them with his music in mind.
no, i like that. i like it when there's a discrepancy. i'm not an illustrator, i don't like it when it's too narrative.

your work does lend itself well to the sleeves though, do you think they will become part of the bravecaptain brand or style?
i dunno, i suppose they could do but we have spoken beyond the new single and album.

are you into sleeve art in general?
erm, it does influence me when i 'm buying music yes, definitely. i love a good record sleeve. i was really pleased to see that martin brings out the bravecaptain stuff on vinyl, the proper music format.

what did you think of the other bravecaptain sleeves before yours?
this one was a jamaican photo or something (holding 'fingertip vol ii' sleeve). i love these photos (looking at 'fingertip i ' sleeve). he's just in the middle of this amazing studio with all these things going on. it's like a scientist's lab or something, you can stare at it for ages and keep picking things out.

what are your favourite record sleeves?
i love the old blue note sleeves. the famous jazz label. they were amazing. real quality, style, the use of the graphics and the way these used the photos, like off-centre and stuff. that was all new.

okay, so finally - give me your top five all-time greatest record sleeves.
erm...that's a tough one! here's some from just diving in my collection that i really like:
'head hunters' - herbie hancock
'midnight marauders' - a tribe called quest
'debut' - bjork
'rockers meets king tubbys in a fire house' - augustus pablo
'it's monks time' - the lonious monk


Keith Haring

Henry Matisse

Diego Rivera

Blue Note Records