AN INTERVIEW WITH LCD SOUNDSYSTEM'S ART GUY
EMI Records are putting on an art show in Sydney this Friday featuring every party invite, record cover, notebook sketch, and napkin doodle ever made for or by LCD Soundsystem. The band's art director, Michael Vadino, is coming over for the show, and after seeing the plethora of artwork that's going to be included, my first question was: "You really needed an art director for this?"
The thing with LCD Soundsystem and DFA Records' artwork is that it looks totally basic and haphazardly slapped together, but after speaking to Michael, I understand that that's the point, and it's also what makes all their stuff consistently recognizable.
Vice: How did you come to be the art director for LCD Soundsystem?
Michael: Well, it started with me doing the flyers for some of their parties and from there the guys just started to come to me for things. I'd like to think that there's an aesthetic thread to the whole thing. I guess we'll be able to tell when it's up--it's never all been presented together before.
It's a world first?
Definitely in this capacity--we're literally bringing everything. I mean, there's nothing precious about this show at all, it's just for fun, really.
You've never shown it in New York?
In New York nobody would show up.
I know, everyone would have something way more important to do that night. I'm guilty of that myself.
Something like that.
And how would you describe the style of the artwork? It's kind of intentionally….
You said it.
We always wanted it to feel really DIY and like a throwback to early punk and no wave--like when there wasn't any money to do real art work. It was always a little fucked up looking and not quite right. I love the way that looks--I think it's really refreshing. I guess our stuff is also a reaction to all that really slick stuff that came out in the 90s.
Do you even use computer programs for the designs?
Well, I was thinking about how the first thing I ever did was a party flyer. I wanted to do it really fast and I was using the computer at the DFA office, but all James had was Photoshop. I hand drew it, scanned it, and literally hand placed each letter in Photoshop.
Like a ransom letter?
Yeah, it took forever. It was totally tedious and ridiculous but it worked and created a kind of rule for us. Everything looks a little troubled. So essentially it's a combination of computer and hand.
And where did the lightning bolt come from?
Well, there's a lot of debate about the lightning bolt. One day I walked into the DFA office and there was a piece of graph paper with a bunch of scribble on it as well as the lightning bolt with DFA written in it. I went wild for it. There's some debate about who actually drew the lightning bolt, but we'll let James think it was him and let Tim think it was him. It's kind of perfect that way. Anyway I kind of appropriated it for a flyer, much to their resistance, but I fought for it and eventually they came round and began to love it.
And that's why you're the art director.
Ha, yeah exactly.
That's Cool But Can You Make It More Shit will be open Tuesday July 27th to Tuesday August 3rd, 11AM – 6PM at the Tom Dunne Gallery.