GaryGo.TV caught up with globe trotting conceptual artist KAONASHI to find out more about his stunning artwork for NOW WAS ONCE THE FUTURE
NWOTF CD Booklet - Photo by Calvin Müller
GGTV: HELLO KAONASHI. WE LOVE THE ARTWORK YOU’VE CREATED FOR NWOTF AND THE SPECIAL EDITION CD PACKAGE IS STUNNING. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The elephant was all Gary’s idea, I can’t take credit for that. Elephante! There were some elephant photos [photography by Calvin Müller] and basically free reign for whatever I wanted to do with those, which was great! I think the most important element I added was the pink line going throughout the artwork. It goes from the elephant’s eye all the way through the packaging, splurting words and details on the way through to reaching the final EQ readout of the album that eventually makes the back cover. She blows bubbles and stars through her trunk and that finally becomes the CD. So she’s making it all, really. We had nothing to do with it.
GGTV: HOW LONG DID YOU LIVE WITH THE MUSIC BEFORE YOU PUT HAND TO MOUSE?
I had the album only for a couple of weeks before I could get working on it, so I had a chance to listen to it all digest the feelings and emotions in the songs. Actually everything hit at once… I remember one minute I was in contact with Gary (after a long time being out of touch), and he’s asking me to make this new album cover, whilst I didn’t even know he’d basically finished it all already, then the next minute I’m seeing him on MTV with Benny Bennassi… It was that great moment when you shout “Hey that’s my friend on TV!” I mean, it was even better than the normal moment because my laptop was open and I was working on the album cover at the time. The wife of my friend was sitting with me and I don’t think for one second she believed what I was saying
GGTV: WE UNDERSTAND YOU WERE TRAVELLING ON A BIKE WHILE YOU WERE WORKING ON THE ARTWORK…WHERE WERE YOU AND HOW DID THAT INFORM THE PIECE?
Actually I was travelling on a bike after I’d finished the album. Literally I was just waiting to get the work finished then I embarked on a mad trip in India with a bike, which was… indescribable I guess! I worked on the album in Serbia, Romania, Turkey, Georgia, but mostly in Armenia. The spirographs that the elephant girl is spouting from her trunk were found on the streets of Turkey. These guys were selling the kits, but they all seemed to have dozens of beautiful multi-coloured examples hanging from their stalls. So I went around to all of them, offering money for little offcuts and ready-made examples. I guess because they’d had so much practice they were so good at making them, they were all really beautiful! The guys were looking at me funny because I was buying these sheets of paper with their examples on, not the actual kits they were trying to sell! So I got all I needed (around 200 patterns), and took them back to where I was staying and scanned them all in a night session… I guess being where I was definitely affected the piece. There are photographs in the montage that all come from where I had been during that specific trip.
GGTV: THE ARTWORK FEELS VERY EMOTIONAL, WITH HIDDEN MEANINGS AND DATA VISUALISATION. CAN YOU REVEAL WHAT ANY OF IT ACTUALLY MEANS?
It all comes from the elephant girl, Elephante… The pink line, from her eye, and the bubbles, lights and patterns that come from her trunk. It’s like she’s made the whole thing there, all by herself… She’s very coy about it. The words that form part of the pink line tell a subtle story that underlines the general feeling of the album… As you open the packaging you get “Our love is on”, which going through the packaging, slowly unfolds (literally) as “Our love is leaving”, and finally “Our love is off”. It’s a play on the words “Our love is on the line”, a lyric from one of the songs. So there is that interaction where you get to make your own version of it all… is it on, off, or coming/going? So difficult to know sometimes! Also the back of the album cover has a coloured ring. These are actual EQ readouts of the song, the volumes and lengths all completely accurate. Then the colouring of the ring changes with each key of the songs.
GGTV: DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A SPIRIT CAPTURED WHEN CREATING A PIECE OF ART THAT IT THEN TRANSMITS?
That’s an interesting question. Yes, on first instinct, I would say yes, there is definitely something of a “spirit” caught when you make something… I wouldn’t say spirit, I think more of a feeling or more specifically, an intention. I personally feel that art is the search for a truth. I think in a good piece of artwork (painting, song, whatever), if it is good enough, you will see a truth, an intention of something. If this carries over to the viewer, if the viewer sees that truth, then the artist has succeeded in conveying their truth at that moment in time… that truth has been communicated and shared!
GGTV: WHAT DOES THE ARTWORK MEAN TO YOU?
It’s wonderful, fantastical. Same as Gary’s music. It is kind of otherwordly. Also this was a special time in my life, I had a lot going on, but also I had never felt so free and honest… So, a lot of that realisation, the realisation of wonderfulness and specialness in my life, went in to the work. I’m quite minimalist and structured in my approach to work, and although some of that remained, I was way more carefree in my attitude towards this artwork. It wasn’t about getting my agenda across or anything like that, I just wanted to communicate the beauty of Gary’s work. I literally wanted to paint the colours and patterns of the songs, which I think kind of worked. When you leave a trace of the designer or artist, the illusion is shattered. When you make honest, direct work with no hidden agendas then you really reach great heights. I’m paraphrasing a Japanese designer here. And badly. (Naoto Fukasawa is the guy if you want to find the original quote!)
GGTV: HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN GARY…HAVE YOU COLLABORATED BEFORE? I’M TOLD THERE’S A STORY ABOUT A POWER PLUG AND A CARELESS GARY ON THE GO?!
Thankfully I was introduced to Gary a number of years back and we have always hit it off since then. We’re quite similar I’d say. Very driven when we get an idea to do something. Doubly so if we’re working together. We enjoy each other’s company massively, and it is always a joy to work together as we seem to have this great ability to bounce ideas off each other and before we know it we’re on to something great without knowing how we got there. We used to hang out at his studio whilst I was working with him on the first album cover. One night at the studio in the middle of it all I was really flowing and had got down all the ideas and look of the thing, but I wasn’t saving the work because it was nearly a 2 gigabyte file, so doing anything (but particularly saving) was seriously taking an age. I had brought my PC with me so it was all messy in the reception area, and we finally decided to call it a day (or night) by the sunrise… Gary’s helping me clear up and the file was actually nearly finished saving, then he goes and just pulls the plug out of the socket… Computer goes off, and he just looks at me incredulously for what seemed like forever but was only an moment, and then tries to put the plug back in, muttering something like “no, no, it will be alright, right?”, not quite comprehending fully what he’d done (we’d been up all night so we weren’t in the best shape, mentally). He couldn’t believe he’d done that! It obviously wasn’t alright, but I went home and reconstructed it from the muddled memories of the night. It never came out the same as the first inspired time, obviously, but it looked good still. We didn’t use any of it in the end anyway! Unfortunately my artwork didn’t materialise as he got signed to a major label and I was also leaving the country at the time. It’s a real shame as the work we had put in really resulted in some stellar ideas and outcomes. Actually to be honest the work was kind of finished, and I was very proud of it.
GGTV: MANY THANKS KAONASHI !!!
You’re so welcome, it was nice to re-visit everything in my head. Thanks for having me
NEW GARY GO SOUNDTRACK “NOW WAS ONCE THE FUTURE” IS AVAILABLE TO BUY NOW EXCLUSIVELY FROM GARYGO.TV STORE – CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS