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general update + more from tethers

So the last few months have been fairly hectic (in a good way) - I aim to fill you in more soon, but the short version is that there was an all day music festival on the 21st of July in the Flying Duck, in Glasgow, and I was charged with doing nearly all of the graphic design work, it went amazingly, you can see some photos over at Moonstruck on Clydeside's instagram - I'll discuss the process and what was made at greater length soon enough.

Modern Ghosts

The pace has not slowed since, the current project is for tethers again who are launching their single "Modern Ghosts" in just over 2 weeks, as with the other big releases (Television Dreams and Skinwalker) we're in the midst of a promotional push, getting some radio play, putting together a video etc, culminating in a launch event - it'll be class, I promise. Anyway - here's some stuff to look at, namely the single cover and detailing, as well as a short animation I put together to pitch for a video, you'll hear the first 7 seconds of the song, trust me the full thing is even better.

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Hope you like it all - you'll hear from me sooner next time

Gee x

Gareth Graham
tethers // SKINWALKER EP

Hey! What follows is a reasonably exhaustive account of my role in the creation of art for the band tethers debut EP "SKINWALKER" , the EP is out now on Swallow Song Records, it's class and is available to stream on Spotify or for purchase on Bandcamp.


Directed by Mark Romanek in 1994, the video for Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" is more of a bizarre, lurid short film than a music video, a thematic parallel to the song, it is all things I aspire to be.  It's also a beautiful piece of art in it's own right, and it does something that so few music videos do - the song benefits so comprehensively from the video and vice versa. Both are great taken on their own merits but together become something very powerful.

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The imagery of the video inspired me to do this piece of illustration, a mostly sexless inhuman creature in high-heel boots holding a Cape buffalo skull. No where near as lurid as the video but I would hope it does it's influence some justice.

I don’t really analyse my own work (apart from all of the following stuff, go figure) so whatever you take from it may as well be true, probably is anyway.


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I had been closely working with Swallow Song Records since mid-2016 as the label established itself, they needed branding so I created it - my friends knew I had a decent eye and that my design philisophy exists as a product of a lot of the same influences, culturally, artistically and musically.

The band wanted a logo - we ended up choosing one that was purely text but had a strong mark. Initally just looking at type-based solutions, nothing particularly stood out until I started sketching and creating something from scratch - Dane (Bass VI) took an active role in helping me find the right direction for the logo and we arrived at what you see now - pretty neat.
 

Swallow Song and tethers were born at the same time and the founders were 2/3rds of the band itself, I was there from the ground floor so I was the de facto choice to create the art for the EP when the time came.

I heard the songs take shape and the EP started to materialise - we talked about what influenced the songs, the band itself and what they wished to communicate visually, the band were influenced by sci-fi, post-humanism, trans-humanism and wanted the art itself to tell a story about nature and the mechanical. I set off sketching and creating pieces - for now on the cutting-room floor.

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Zach (guitar/vocals) came across the piece I was talking about before (there was a reason to talk about that, not just because) and was quite taken with it - we talked about what it would come to mean as part of the EP.  The title came shortly after, the name for the creature we had created - skin walker - came from Navajo folklore of shape-shifting witches.

Further meaning emerged as we discussed the name, the sci-fi influence on the music and ourselves. Manipulation of the body, sex, post-humanism, an artificially enhanced being - a Skinwalker. We created the story of what exactly the Skinwalker was, to us at least. I wouldn't want to go too in depth because, as with all art, it's about what you see - not what I tell you to see.

We worked at the art, deciding on a reddish tone, almost appears biological in nature - also because I really like reddish pinks, as some of my other work probably shows. The reflection of the Skinwalker on itself further added to this sense of dissociation from humanity. As work on the EP went on I made a mockup so we could get an idea of the physical presence of the EP, and so I could convince the band that I knew what I was doing.  It isn’t perfect, but it was an important step in the creation of the final product.

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The art went on the backburner while recording was ongoing. I was in a privileged position to see five individual pieces of music come into full view, hearing the songs initially live as I sat like a voyeur in on some practice sessions, as demos under various working titles, then the mixes and masters towards the end of 2017 leading into 2018.


 

“Television Dreams Of Human Beings” (working title “Hit”) was chosen to be the lead single. Listening to the song about a dozen times I started to visualise what could be done with it, the construction of the song and visuals that would compliment it.
I first presented a version of the visuals used after the bridge (TV in a TV in a TV...) and we kept going from there.

I love the physical presence of analog media, so “Television Dreams…” has those fingerprints. Versions were presented and rejected, ideas whittled down and we arrived at this, aiming to be something more than a straight out lyric video, to be a piece that exists in it’s own reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The video for "SKINWALKER" (many, many working titles) is a bit more of an out-and-out lyric video, the creation process for which was much faster than the previous video - probably just under a week all told. I'd had the concept in my head for quite some time as a potential EP teaser and it now feels as if it was always meant to go with SKINWALKER as a song. the track has a thumping percussiveness throughout which accompanied the lyrics flashing on screen so well. The natural imagery ties back to the folklore inspiration for the title, and contrasts with the almost industrial, heavier sound.

I'm not fully sure when we made the decision to "destroy" the first video but it just always fit with the song and makes for a neat visual, which is enough sometimes.

 


 photo credit Zach Trouton

photo credit Zach Trouton

Now over the past month or so we’ve been working on the final EP. CDs sent off to be duplicated with some time to spare before today, the release show - if you’re in Belfast and reading this now check it out, if not the EP is up in all it's glory on Spotify and Bandcamp. I'm incredibly proud of my pals and the work they managed to get out of me.

Skinwalker has been a case of proper serendipity, the first piece was entirely divorced from the EP by more than a year, but now they're bonded to one another.
I hope in some way I can approach doing what the "Closer" video did, creating something that is far better for the music associated with it, and that the music benefits from.


Kisses,
Gra x
 

 

 

Gareth Graham
The Hobbit

I hated the Hobbit movies, I really did, so much so I had to do some maths.

The Hobbit is a brief novel of only 300 pages, at 95,022 words, it's about 320 words per page. The cumulative runtime of all three Hobbit movies is about 8 hours. Specifically - 498 minutes, considering that a picture is worth a thousand words - at 48 frames per second, the Hobbit trilogy is worth 1,434,240,000 words, 4,482,000 pages, which is around 14,940 times longer the novel. And at 1,103 times longer than the current Guinness world record holder. The Hobbit movies are actually not movies at all, but are in fact the longest book ever written.

The paper used would likely be about 0.0037 inches, following from the previous numbers, we get about 1381 feet. The Hobbit trilogy is the 17th tallest building in the world.

At just about a gram per page the Hobbit trilogy are a weighty 4,482 kilos. With an upper limit of 711 kg, it's not unreasonable to think that Peter Jackson's bloated trilogy was also a pack of 6 ravenous Great White sharks.

Truly - if we had a faithful adaptation of the book we'd be looking at a much shorter film. Following my previous argument (a picture is worth a thousand words etc.) a truly faithful Hobbit movie would be just 1.97 seconds long.

If you wish simulate the length of the Hobbit movies, don't bother watching, just read the previous post 10,318,273 times.

Finally - if Jackson was pushed by New Line Cinema to course correct in response to the Hobbit's bloated runtime an adaptation of the Silmarillion, one of Tolkien's more impenetrable works, we would be looking at a film of just over 2.7 seconds long.

Gareth Graham
happy new year

This post is addressed to you - whoever is reading this.

Two years ago I said this -
"I wondered to myself if 2015 has been the best year of my life. I guess in a way it has, since it's tied with every other year for worst."
I think 2017 coulda ended up just that - the worst, fuck it wasn't far off being the last - but I'm leaving it better off. You are to blame as much as I am for that, I've made it my mission to value connections that were not so far off being severed.

Friends are class - Groucho Marx said "I don't care to join any club that would have me as a member", but I'm glad to have you. Sure you're sleazy lunatic for choosing to keep me in your life but you've enriched my life, you've kept me going. Please, give yourselves a pat on the back from me, or ask someone else to. You did it, and you're right here with me, good luck.

Perspective, is something I possess, new perspective - but I don't have much in the way of advice really, nothing that you couldn't glean from my other posts. Just keep it in mind - you have a blank slate, "do what thou wilt" with it. Even choosing to treat January 1st as if it were any other day is a fine way to kick it off.

I'll tie it off here with a few things -
I'm a lucky cunt to have ya, whoever you are, old friend or new.
2018 will be your year, trust me.
It's also the year of the dog.

Gareth GrahamComment
four. fresh eyes

Time passed - I can't say much more about it than already has been said. Rest, rise, routine, repeat.

Home.

I was home for ages. In the past four years I hadn't spent more than 21 days at home any one time. I like having my own space, be master of my own destiny. It's got me this far somehow.

After hospital this was the place I was gonna call home now, my home. It was foreign, everything had carried on to spite me. I had spent two weeks trapped in amber.

I'd gotten quite used to my environment in the ward - Stockholm syndrome I s'pose. It sucked but it was consistent, something I never valued much, but I'd retained my sanity.

When I returned to my ma's I wanted to be back to the old normal, but I didn't rate my chances. I was tired a lot, but I didn't really do anything, resting all the time is exhausting. I smoked a lot to take the edge off, then drank a lot of coffee to put the edge back on. I was mentally drained in the same way I was in hospital.

I wanted to do something worth doing, I get that feeling a lot now. I feel like up until this point I haven't yet done the thing that makes having been here fucking things up for 24 years worth all the effort. I hadn't tried really - writing this is another exercise in trying to find that thing. I can't hunt or gather so I'll keep painting on the walls of the cave, hopefully someone will find this in a few thousand years and appreciate it's naive charm.

Before I started writing this I tried to hash this whole mad fuckery out in my own head - it took me until now to take it seriously.

Everyone gets a knock around now and again. But having shared with you I'm kinda seeing it with fresh eyes - as if it happened to someone else. Fuckin hell it sounds wild - apart from the lying down for 2 weeks bit.

Gareth GrahamComment
iii. until further notice

Day three - hearing recovering etc.

The days go in in a very peculiar way when you're in a hospital bed.

Moment-to-moment it's exhaustingly long, it isn't just easy to languish - when the lights are out it takes substantial mental effort to do anything else.

Hanging on moments is all I really did, I did that for two million seconds give or take - but when it comes to recalling specific days beyond the first and last few, you're outta luck.

The plan initially was to write a day by day account of what went on in those two weeks - from now on I guess I'll pick days between then and today, whenever I decide to stop, since today is different tomorrow and so on.

 

Even if prompted I probably couldn't share much apart from memories a few bland meals, the time my ma brought me some cookies and visits from friends. You might be shocked to know that head injuries have a litany of side effects - I couldn't quite say if it was that, or the ensuing shame and stress that made me feel like total shit.

At some stage a doctor told me frankly, that moment had snapped me violently into a new normal. There aren't any coping strategies for that, recovery occupied a nebulous timeframe, one that ranged from "until further notice" to until you aren't alive again.

 

While the repetition did it's best to distract - there was a tremendous sense of uncertainty to my new normal.

I didn't know when I would be able to return home.

I didn't know what would happen when I was home.

I wasn't quite sure how much I wanted to be home, I wasn't well - not until further notice.

 

I went back to sleep, I slept a lot, there was fuck all else to do. For a bit I started to feel less and less like the person I was before. An overwhelming change of circumstance will do that to anyone. I fed him and brushed his hair and wore his clothes - which I was fortunate to be doing given the circumstances.

I liked the same music, and I knew the same people, I liked them, I liked this life very much, for what it's worth. I had been wrapped up in it before, and I would continue to be until further notice.

I'm not sure quite how much I have left to say - it's tough to conclude since the story is still being written, the ending isn't in sight - not until further notice.

Gareth Graham
ii. the lights are out

Day two was much like day one - hearing was recovering, CT scan, hands on chins, shaking heads. Back to bed.
On it’s own being there makes you ill-at-ease, they do a fine job of pulling you out of those moments, being offered a cup of tea at 8am every morning are something to depend upon.

Those mundanities divert your attention from dwelling on the idea that you may well have irreparably fucked up your life. These kinds of thoughts aren’t recommended for a speedy recovery, but I still do find time for them when all the lights are out.

I tried to envision what waited in future, I think I saw potential in a way - I still do; in fact, I see myself as an optimist.
In these moments I saw what happened as a dramatic method of stirring myself from apathy, it haunted me - lurks in everyone - cynicism is trendy. I despise it - but I understand it, there doesn’t really seem to be a more rational response to such a comprehensively chaotic world, and it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to replicate my method of gaining new perspective. I'm sure I wouldn't recommend it.

Life is a series of different states, you gotta always be prepared to adapt to the new circumstances that come along with them.
There’s a superset these states inhabit that only changes twice. You’re not alive, you are, then you aren’t. At this point I was.

I wasn’t frightened, because I was alive. I didn’t have the room to be afraid at this point, I had approached that final state change but I didn’t experience it. There was no value in wondering what mightn’t have been, why exhaust myself wondering about all the things I’d never get to experience? In a grim way opportunity had presented itself, merely by letting me carry on.

Besides, I already knew exactly what it would be like.

It’s probably different for everyone, but for me it was like every day prior to April of 1993 - up until then I wasn’t alive for the first time.

Gareth Graham
i. riding the storm

It's been a while - but not everyone knows exactly how I spent my summer, so I wrote it down, read away - if you don't I'll never know.
I guess this might be entry one in a series, who knows?

Here goes,

Ever fallen over? We all do, gotta get up, dust yourself off and plug away. You can't eat gravel forever.
I fell, it was really bad. I woke up and a few hours were missing, no blood. But I was in hospital, I wanted out so I gave my ma a call. Doctors don't let you walk out if you can't really walk and were found in an alley unconscious. My ma came round to see what was up - the doctor wanted to do a CT scan, I couldn't hear in my left ear and that was my main sticking point. I can't be deaf in one ear - they don't make eyepatches for ears, so you don't even look cool, I'd go blind in one eye before - already sort of am and I don't wear my glasses. There aren't many things worth reading. Not even this. 
I got the scan and sat about. It felt like ages because it was, typically a normal brain scan is fairly easy to read because there's no need for interpretation, this wasn't a normal brain by any estimation. It was bad, worse than usual.
Brain injuries aren't about the first whack, that's the best part really, it's all about the shape of the skull. The skull is like a little cave - stalagmites, stalactites and all. That initial whack is called a coup injury, it's nout, just an inconvenience but that sends the brain bouncing about - the contrecoup.
My brain was fucked.
Swelling, bruising, scarring.
The middle of your brain is supposed to stay put - mine didn't. I'm not sure that necessarily does anything, but it typically means trouble.
I'm taken up to a ward - I'd call it home for the next two weeks.

The day went on much as any other first day somewhere does - the bizarre shake up of routine, boredom, adjustment. I was finally right when I felt like I was being watched. I felt like I shouldn't be there - I didn't belong there, I was still me - that had to be enough. They wouldn't take my word for it.
I slept, sleeping in hospital is peculiar. The beds never feel right - "making you comfortable" isn't a thing you wanna hear though. There's always noise. Ticks. Beeps. Coughs. I was surrounded by other people with similar injuries but they were far worse off it seemed. The beeps were disconcerting, I don't know if they're supposed to be regular intervals or not - no beeps is the ideal number of beeps.
I didn't have any beeping machines - that was a positive.

 

That's what I got for now - hope you like!

Gee x

Gareth Graham