Illustrated Tapes 040: ‘89

Curated by Mat Roff
22.09.19
spoti.fi/2kZjcCt



Sequenced for front →  back listening.
Mat is an illustrator based in Oxford.

Heya Mat! Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

Sure! My mixtape is very much a reflection of my love for New Wave / retro music and the 80s sound that is creeping into popular music right now. I’ve really gotten into bands like The Midnight and The Night Game recently because they echo that era.

I also like music that tells a story by painting an image in your head, or how it can relate to a part of your life when you listen to it. Most of the songs in my mixtape are about that.

How did you go about the artwork?

The artwork for this cover was inspired by the first song on my tape, “Wave” by The Midnight. Within my personal work I’m fascinated by the relationship we have with technology and how we’re so heavily reliant on it - both physically and emotionally - to comfort us.

In terms of how I created the artwork - I drew the line work using with a brush pen, then I digitally painted and edited it using textured brushes in Photoshop.

What are your fave album covers, records with a great music and artwork combo, or musical projects with a visual component?

There are a few that have stuck in my head since my childhood which made a big impression on me.


Nine Lives - Aerosmith
1997, Columbia
Artwork: Stefan Sagmeister


The album is brilliant, but it was the artwork and design by Stefan Sagmeister on both the cover and inside the sleeve for each song that really grabbed my attention. It adds a visual narrative to the tracks and it really goes hand-in-hand with the music too. I think it’s my favourite album design of all time.

Recurring Dream (The Very Best of Crowded House) - Crowded House
1996, Capitol Records
Artwork: Nick Seymour



Mylo Xyloto - Coldplay
2011, Parlophone
Artwork: Coldplay, Paris


I know a lot of people are split on Coldplay and I’m not their biggest fan, but that album was an amazing mixture of story, music and art and I commend them for it. I played it for months and months and it really inspired a lot of my artwork too, particularly when I was working on in my sketchbook.

I love that the album tells a story through music based on two protagonists living in an oppressive, dystopian, urban environment, who then meet one another through a gang and fall in love. You can hear it in every song, you can imagine the stages of that story - and that’s why I love that album so much.

What did you listen to growing up?

A wide range of stuff which my parents introduced me to, so on my Dad’s side it was Crowded House, R.E.M., Aerosmith, U2, David Grey, Simply Red, and then on my Mom’s side we had Wet Wet Wet, Annie Lennox or her band Eurythmics, Celine Dion, George Michael (his Faith album was played to death!), Bryan Adams, Michael Jackson… the usual 80s/90s pop or rock music.

When I got to an age where I was discovering music, I started off listening to pop-punk with the likes of blink-182, Simple Plan, Bowling For Soup, Green Day, Dashboard Confessional, Sum 41, Jimmy Eat World, Motion City Soundtrack etc.

Films also introduced me to music that I’d never have found myself, so if I heard a great track in a film I was watching I would then look up the band and listen to all their songs. That’s how I started to find stuff, particularly Journey who I included in this mixtape at the end. Charlize Theron’s film Monster introduced me to that band in 2003, long before the X Factor murdered it and everyone kept telling me how great Journey were… yeah, I know. I knew long before you did, haha!

What’s happening in your creative world at the moment?

I’ve been working with a lot of video game companies and charities this summer such as SpecialEffect and Bossa Studios on branding and advertising - so there are a few projects waiting to be released which I can’t reveal just yet.

Personally, I‘m working on a few community projects such as the Oxford Doodle Club, which is a drawing club that will be meeting monthly in Oxford (feel free to join for our first event this weekend), and I’m also teaming up with the Creative Waffle Podcast to interview and document Mark’s trip around the UK as he speaks to designers & illustrators at the end of September.

At the moment, I’ve enjoyed working on creative projects that don’t just involve drawing, so I’m seeing where this will take me...

Where can we find you?

︎ matroff.co.uk
︎ twitter.com/matroff
︎ instagram.com/matroff
︎ twitch.tv/matroff

Thank you Mat!