Illustrated Tapes 042: Space Opera

Curated by Robbie Cathro
19.10.19
spoti.fi/2Bou2Xl



All playlists are designed to be played in order for maximum enjoyment.
Robbie is an illustrator and cartoonist based in Bristol.

Heya Robbie. Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

Hi Sam! I wanted to create a playlist that I would listen to as I fly across the galaxy in a little spaceship. Telling the story of my journey from my home planet as I bounce across the stars, speeding along galactic roads and visiting space palaces.

It shifts from a more electronic sound at the beginning to a moodier, more instrumental section towards the end as you travel into deep space further away from the sun. I thought it could be a good playlist to work or to listen to if you’re walking home at nighttime.

I wanted to include some of my favourite music on here so you have Todd Terje, Janelle Monae, Robyn, some French electro and some film soundtracks. ‘Meditation Des Enfants’ by Alain Goraguer is from a beautifully surreal French animated sci-fi film from the 70’s called ‘Fantastic Planet’ that you should definitely watch.

How did you go about the artwork?

I put on the playlist and started drawing. I knew I wanted to make some sort of image of a spaceship speeding across a planet in black & white, with an old sci-fi movie poster sort of look. Something that would fit the electronic and more instrumental sides of the playlist. I had also never drawn a spaceship before so I took myself back to playing Kingdom Hearts as a kid as reference, because there’s really cool toy ships made from very simple shapes on there! I drew a couple of roughs as well of grand space goddesses that I liked, kind of with the same vibe as Ponyo’s mother, floating through space holding and kissing planets. Another was a girl boosting down a rainbow road-like track on spaceship roller skates.

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

I absolutely love all of the Todd Terje record artwork that Bendik Kaltenborn makes. It’s super fun and fits the music perfectly. I love his Standbar art, but his It’s Album Time sleeve is my favourite.

Todd Terje - It’s Album Time
2014, Olsen
Artwork: Bendik Kaltenborn


Little Dragon Machine Dreams is a perfect album, so fun and so delicate, and ‘Feather’ might be one of the most beautiful songs ever. The artwork is very, very gorgeous as well.


Little Dragon - Machine Dreams
2009, Peacefrog Records
Artwork: Hideyuki Katsumata



The Grace Jones Slave To The Rhythm is just a really, really cool collection of songs and the cover image of Grace shouting is iconic.


Grace Jones - Slave to the Rhythm
1985, ZZT / Island Records
Artwork: Jean Paul Goude


Whilst the covers themselves aren’t anything special, my favourite internet conspiracy and character development arc is Lana Del Rey’s album covers! On Born To Die she is stood outside of a truck pouting. Then on the cover of Ultraviolence she is getting in the car. On Honeymoon she is in the car. And finally on Lust for Life she is stood outside of the truck again but smiling. It literally represents her shifting from a ‘sad girl’ tone to someone who is happier. I just love that she manages to have 4 album covers that show her getting in and out of a car.


Lana Del Rey - Born to Die (2012)
Interscope Records / Polydor
Art direction: David Bowden, Lana Del Rey
Design: Mat Maitland
Photography: Nicole Nodland

Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence (2014)
Interscope Records / Polydor
Design: Mat Maitland
Photography: Neil Krug

Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon (2015)
Interscope Records / Polydor
Art direction, photography: Chuck Grant

Lana Del Rey - Lust for Life (2017)
Interscope Records / Polydor
Design: Markus Bagå, Mat Maitland
Photography: Chuck Grant


What did you listen to growing up?

My first few albums included Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love, Gwen Stefani’s Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and Jamelia’s Superstar (all still great albums). Sugababes were also definitely very present throughout all of their rotations. So it was written pretty early on that I would always love pop music. But Dad would always play Yello, Gary Numan and Soft Cell in the kitchen, and that sort of experimental and 80s sound definitely stuck with me.

Getting older between 2007-2009 at around 15/16  I was listening to lots of Friendly Fires, Justice, Gorillaz, Bombay Bicycle Club, Passion Pit’s Manners and Florence + The Machine’s Lungs. Me and my friends lived in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, so going to the gigs of our favourite bands was so exciting. We would drive or get the bus to wherever they were playing and queue from such an early time because we had to be at the barrier. It was always such an event!

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

I’ve just finished a cute black and white young fiction project about classic characters from paintings coming out of their frames and into reality! So I’m excited for that to come out. Otherwise I’m always working on activity and story spreads for kids magazines and books! I get to draw lots of fun and colourful characters so I’m happy. I’m also going to back to do a little teaching on the Illustration course I studied on, which I’m both excited and nervous for!

Where can we find you?
︎ robbiecathro.com
︎ @robbiecathro
︎ @robbiecathro

Thank you Robbie