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October 2021
Feature

Happy Accidents interview artist Jono Ganz about the creation of their cosmic new album artwork

"I just thought, ‘You know what? Jugs! That’s gonna be the theme here!’"
Published: 11:32 am, February 21, 2018
Happy Accidents interview artist Jono Ganz about the creation of their cosmic new album artwork
Happy Accidents' new album 'Everything But The Here And Now' is adorned by a piece of artwork created by their pal - and housemate - Jono Ganz (jonoganz.com). He sat down with the band's singer and guitarist Rich Mandell for croissants and a chat about the process of creating the work.

RM: Hey Jono, so, you did the artwork for our new record - and you live with me and Phoebe - and so I guess the point of this is to talk about the origins of that specific piece and how it came about! So do you remember when we started talking about it?
 
JG: I remember that the first thing that you sent my way was a picture of Big Sean to use as a reference for the colour palette.
 
RM: Ah yeah, he was wearing a yellow jacket, and the sky was pink and blue, he was radiant! And I remember seeing that on a Noisey article and thinking ‘I want a record cover that looks like that!’ *laughs*

JG: And then I had that picture on my desktop for a while referring back to it. Not to exactly match it, but to try and get that… luminosity. But then we started to look at other bits of inspiration; I think you brought into the mix this little jug you found.
 
RM: Ah yeah, it was this tiny thimble sized thing I found at the kitchen at The Montague Arms, which is sadly now gone. I think I just saw it lying about, and thought, ‘You know what? Jugs! That’s gonna be the theme here!’
 
JG: *laughs* A theme of the album?
 
RM: No not really! But it definitely relates to the themes of the record - repetitive behaviour patterns and all. I do remember walking to get some washing up liquid with you, and trying to haphazardly explain that I thought it would be really cool if the cover was based on a jug which was pouring out, but that the water then just flowed back into the jug, in some sort of cyclical fashion.
 
JG: And then I started freaking out about the logistics of how to draw that, in regards to physics etc.
 
RM: Yeah! So then there were early versions where there was a lake, and it looked really biblical, and I was really into that as well.
 
JG: I think those early ones came directly from some tarot card imagery, cause I’d recently bought a set, and had my tarot read and started getting obsessed with it. And then the early sketches were almost direct copies of some of the cards themselves. I think The Star features a women holding two jugs, but then it started getting more abstract when I started taking more imagery from other cards like the clouds and the hands, and it slowly turned into what it is!
 
RM: Awesome! I kind of popped in at regular intervals because that’s the reality of living with someone that’s making a thing - you see little glimpses of everything.
 
JG: And every time you’d come in, I’d be really worried because it was nowhere near finished!
 
RM: *laughs* But it’s not the sort of dynamic where I’d be checking in on the progress, it’s more like  ‘what’s Jono up to? Ah yeah, cool’. I remember seeing the first sketch of the cloud design and being like ‘ooh this isn’t what I was imagining at all’, and then living with it for two days and being really attached to it! But it was a really detailed sketch, with all the colours in place, to the point that where I was like ‘you don’t even need to redo it, don’t even waste your time!’ And now I look at the final version, in all its majestic glory, and think ‘I can’t believe I was ever really into the sketch!’
 
JG: Yeah! I think the final thing is quite, naive I guess? I’m not really a painter, but I think there’s something quite nice and DIY about it. It’s quite flat and quite illustration-y. And it all adds to the effect.
 
RM: I think it’s great, I think to say that you’re not a painter and still be able to do something which looks like that, is quite a feat! Especially since the last record, we were so short on ideas for the artwork. We didn’t know any artists that we particularly thought represented what we wanted to do, so we just thought ‘we’ve already got this photo of Phoebe on a scooter, let’s just crop her head off…’. Whereas this time round we had a fully formed concept that referred to the content of the music. So it feels like this time it’s a big part of the whole project.

JG: Yeah and it felt like it because while I was painting all the parts, I would hear you going through all the demos and mixes you’d get back upstairs. And so I’d heard quite a lot of the process behind the album.
 
RM: Yeah, we’re not very good at keeping it to ourselves. Whenever we’re doing anything, everyone has to know.
 
JG: But that was very useful! Because it’s obviously a lot darker than your first record. There’s a load more sombre sounding songs, and that influenced the artwork because it also feels like there’s a message there. It feels quite intentional - it’s heavy on symbolism, the colours glow on the paper, and it looks a lot more considered.
 
RM: I feel like the artwork influenced the music too, because we had the painting before we even went into the studio. It definitely affected the sounds from my perspective. It was quite nice to have a picture that summed up how we wanted the music to feel and have that inform what we were making to some degree. I mean the songs were there already but just in terms of how we dressed them up.
 
JG: And I guess the songs are building on your first record, but a lot of the sounds on there are ones you’d not had before - like all the loops and the synth stuff. But I guess when you look at the cover it doesn’t really look like a punk record.

RM: That’s what I like about it so much.
 
JG: I guess most records put out by people in a similar scene have just had a single photo with maybe a handwritten title, which is cool - it’s the looks that has grown alongside that sort of thing, but it’s what you’d expect I guess? So it’s quite nice to make something that looks like it could be a prog album.
 
RM: Yeah! I think I was listening to a lot of prog at the time *laughs*. Or just King Crimson, and a bunch of 70’s ‘out there’ shit.
 
JG: I think I was listening to a lot of Pink Floyd.
 
RM: I remember that coming up - was it Storm Thorgerson? The guy who painted the Pink Floyd album covers?
 
JG: Yeah… did he die?
 
RM: He died recently I think

JG: Well that’s definitely it.
 
RM: He lives through you *laughs*. That’s a grand statement isn’t it, I wonder what his estate would think of that.
 
JG: Maybe he visited me in a dream - that’s off the record.
 
RM: Yeah, like Kendrick and 2pac.
 
JG: Exactly. I was actually surprised you left the interview with Storm off the end of the album!
 
RM: That would have been great! Final question, what is it like having a client relationship with people that live down the hall?
 
JG: It’s hard to procrastinate! And it can be very loud in the house, but that’s good.
 
RM: *laughs* That’s a fair comment.
 
JG: I just mean in terms of actually hearing everything going on, in terms of you guys making stuff, and it’s actually quite good for the creative process. Cause when you hear someone else making something you get to think ‘Ah yeah, I love making stuff!’ or ‘Ah shit, I can’t believe I’m not making stuff right now!’ So, it sort of influences that. I think all of us are quite creative in the house. It’s good a good atmosphere most of the time.
 
RM: It is good! It’s got a good vibe. Okay, I’m gonna go take the bins out. Thanks, Jono!
 
JG: Thanks for the croissants!

Happy Accidents' album 'Everything But The Here And Now' is out now.

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