Stylorouge collaborated with the company to set up focus groups comprised of all the 30-odd staff members, and fly-on-the-wall photographs were then taken of the event for use within the launch campaign. These images were then deployed within office decor and on the new CBC website which was also created by Stylorouge.
Following the release of Merrie Land – the new album by Damon Albarn’s The Good The Bad & The Queen – BBC 6 Music will be broadcasting the Steve Lamacq show live from Albarn’s studio in West London on Wednesday 21st November, and Stylorouge creative director Rob O’Connor will be there to talk with Lamacq about the company’s relationship with Blur.
Tune in from 4pm or later on BBC iPlayer to hear the highlights of this historic dialogue (presuming there are any!).
Incredibly, 2019 will mark the 25th Anniversary of Skunk Anansie, whose latest press release describes as “a glorious mix of race, gender, sexuality, culture and music influences”. Stylorouge have been working with the band to create the packaging and campaign materials for a live album that will spearhead their anniversary celebrations alongside a full-on live schedule for next summer.
Formed in 1994, the band exuded a strong sense of individuality from the start, shunning the Britpop mould of white 20-something men with guitars and instead ploughing their own furrow – painstakingly avoiding the temptation to follow in anyone elses footsteps. 25LIVE@25 will be released in several different formats through Republic of Music and the tracks themselves have been garnered from a number of live recordings covering songs from their complete catalogue.
Stylorouge have filmed a number of online pieces for online marketing – the band discuss the album, track-by-track on all their social accounts. Details at: www.skunkanansie.com.
Accompanying photography is by Rob O’Connor.
Front sleeve photography is by Michael Grein, and the deluxe packaging features more than 200 photos from the bands own archive.
Stylorouge have quite a history working with Sarah Brightman, having created album sleeves, promo videos, websites and TV campaigns for her various album and live touring projects. Earlier this year, Sarah announced her intention to release a new studio album and a world tour, and we embarked on developing visual concepts for the project, which is called Hymn. To be released on November 9th, the album has been recorded over a period of two years, the first studio collaboration with long-term musical partner producer/composer Frank Peterson in about 7 years.
The sleeve design features a front image that combines the art direction of Stylorouge with the photography of Simon Fowler and 3D artist Bilellis. The image was created to reflect the inspirational style of a decorative fresco in an art deco style.
The announcement of the album’s release and the accompanying tour was made on a brand new website which was built by Airborne/Push Entertainment, designed by Stylorouge.
Ten years ago, folk fiddle maestro Sam Sweeney went in search of a new violin. Little did he know that the instrument he fell in love with would have such a remarkable story. It had the appearance of a brand new instrument but was dated 1915 and the name inside was Richard S Howard. Research revealed that the violin had been made, but never finished, by a luthier and music hall performer from Leeds called Richard Spencer Howard. He joined the British Army in 1915 and in June 1917 he was killed at the Battle Of Messines aged 34, leaving behind the carved pieces of the unfinished violin. He would eventually travel to Ypres in Belgium, to the final resting place of the violin’s creator with the now finished instrument in his hand – where he played a poignant solo performance at his graveside.
Following a BBC Radio 4 appearance in which he told this story, the plan was hatched to record an album of tunes to commemorate those who lived through and those who died in the Great War.
Stylorouge have designed the packaging for the album, and created marketing assets. The Unfinished Violin was released by Island Records in October, The sleeve design used photographs taken on location by Elly Lucas.
Sam recalls his feelings on making the album:
“One of the most poignant things I’ve taken from making this album is the fact that melody has always been important to people, whether that be in everyday life or in times of immense suffering and strife. My hope is that these beautiful melodies, many of which existed before The Great War, will keep being adopted, played and played with for centuries to come”.
The Vinyl Cover Show is an exhibition and book project currently being whipped into life by veteran musicologist, writer and music designer Spencer Drate. The show will open in New York City in spring 2019 and will celebrate the history of record sleeve design through the past few decades. Curated by Spencer, Judith Salavetz and Sylvia Reed, the exhibition will include designs by Stylorouge alongside a load of other music designers past and present. Among the sleeves selected for inclusion are Jake Bugg’s On My One and Robert Fripp’s League Of Gentlemen album which features a painting by the multi-talented Danielle Dax, who also provided vocals for one of the tracks on the album.
The Vinyl Cover Show will be accompanied by a coffee table book.
More news on the exhibition and accompanying book as it is announced.
Stylorouge creative director Rob O’Connor was asked by both Art Vinyl and Making Vinyl to be on the judging panels of their respective projects this year.
Art Vinyl, who host the foremost annual awards for sleeve design in the UK, were commissioned by the Entertainment Retailers Association and the BPI to curate and mount a travelling exhibition of album sleeve design from the past 70 years. Billed as The Best Art Vinyl of All Time, the exhibition celebrates the 70th anniversary of the vinyl album and was launched on Monday 8th October on the concourse of Waterloo Railway Station. As one of the judging panel Rob was accompanied by National Album Day Coordinator Megan Page, Mercury Prize nominee Novelist and legendary singer-songwriter Billy Bragg for a commuter-time media call.
Meanwhile, in the USA, Making Vinyl is an annual conference, hosted this year in Detroit on October 1st and 2nd, with Steve Van Zandt following last year’s guest Jack White as keynote speaker. Design awards are an important part of the event, with this years finalists including album sleeve designs for Young Fathers, The National, The Decemberists and Kamasi Washington. Rob was one of at least a dozen judges who took part in the ‘secret ballot’-style selection process.
Twenty years after the release of Mansun’s masterwork, the album that set the standard for ’90’s British contemporary indie rock, Attack Of The Grey Lantern was re-released in a special birthday refit.
Stylorouge created the original packaging for the album in 1998, making installations and art directing a still life photoshoot with Merton Gauster. The album is released by Snapper.
On Chris Difford recent tour with friend and fellow singer/songwriter Boo Hewerdine he was chatting about his life in and out of pop legends Squeeze and shamelessly plugging his new autobiography Some Fantastic Place. He was also selling copies of his new album, written and recorded with Boo and featuring the best of the tracks from his yet-to-be-staged smash hit musical Fancy Pants. Simply titled Pants (snappier and more memorable than Fancy) the album is released on Boo’s own label and features a sleeve designed by Mark Higenbottam at Stylorouge. Chris was gigging close to our Kent headquarters in Kent promoting the Pants album back in April – he very kindly dropped a pair off when he was here…
Following Rob O’Connor’s recent appearance at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival he was introduced to music journalist Jo Kendall, who bent his ear on all kinds of musical from guilty pleasure pop to more arcane prog, soul and late ’60’s and ’70’s underground (her musical knowledge and enthusiasm is unbounded…). A few days later she invited Rob to feature his record collection in Prog magazine – the resulting interview found it’s way into the October edition. He managed to shoe-horn David Sylvian, Sandy Denny, David Holmes and The Temptations into an article about Prog… Who’d a thought it…
Kscope released Dissolution, the new album by Pineapple Thief on 31st August. Stylorouge created the artwork for the title, which is available in various formats including a 48 page hardback ‘earbook’. (Shown here is the design for the original boxed earbook package)
The theme of the album follows the trials and tribulations of living in a society where everything is played out on a public stage and the often dark consequences this way of living brings. The social network exposes personal, intimate and often boring details of our lives to a judgemental online audience, and this is at the heart of this project. It inspired our use of glitching to dissemble the photographs we took for the packaging. Two young actors acted improvised scenes for the camera during a one-day studio shoot; there was warmth, mistrust, anger, profanity, aggression… and real tears.
Design, art direction and photography by Stylorouge.
Glitching by James Usill.
The sadly recently deceased Fall frontman and lyricist Mark E Smith is the subject an exhibition of illustrated lyrics at Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre in conjunction with Arts Manchester, which has been running since September 22nd.
The show is the brainchild of designer John Rooney, who invited submissions from a number of artists, designers and illustrators, to visualise their favourite lyric – including Malcolm Garrett, Alan Kitching, Jill Mumford, and from Stylorouge; super-fan Mark Higenbottam and Rob O’Connor. The exhibition runs until November 24th.
Colliery band playing Lennon anybody? Bible readings to music? Folk/disco classics? The record business continues to look for ways to expand it’s target market in the age of virtual delivery, and although the revived interest in vinyl has put a smile back on the faces of the purists it doesn’t keep the wolf from the door on it’s own.
Various projects have come our way this year that could be considered ‘outside the box’, although The Band of Love, who recorded the disco cover versions album Folk Fever under the direction of Folk Roots producer Mark Tucker have a traditional music heritage in their own rights – key band members are Jim Causley, Greg Russell, Hannah Martin, Philip Henry and Alice Jones. A slot on the bill of one of this summers British Summertime concerts in London’s Hyde Park was the perfect way to announce the eccentric album’s arrival.
The inaugural Black Deer Festival took place in the beautiful setting of Eridge Park, near Tunbridge Wells in Kent over the ‘mid-summer’ weekend of June 22nd-24th.
The biggest rosta of Americana and Country artists to hit a single UK festival in our memories filled the six live stages over the most gloriously sunny weekend of the summer while a host of renowned chefs and and outdoor food exponents filled the air with the mouthwatering aromas of smokehouse cooking. Iron & Wine and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit were among the musical headliners.
Online and print marketing was undertaken by Stylorouge for this, Black Deer’s first outing. We were extremely proud to be involved with the lovely Black Deer family in their new venture, which is already selling early-bird tickets for next year’s weekender on their website www.blackdeerfestival.com.