Illustrated Tapes 135: Homework
Curated by HAUNTS

HAUNTS aka Nik Young is an illustrator from Leicester, UK, currently based in Bangkok, Thailand.

* * *

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

A lot of the time when I draw I find that having music on with lyrics tend to distract me, whether it’s because I end up pondering what the song is about or just start having a good old fashioned singalong. So when I draw I tend to like to listen to more electronic instrumental stuff which is a bit of a departure to my usual habits, and quite often I’ll throw on a mix or a playlist that I’ve never heard before. But every now and then a sample creeps in that is so familiar that it’s almost like a little Easter egg planted in the song by the artist directly to me. Sometimes it’s lines from a TV show, or music from an old film or video game. Sometimes it’s simply a song that has seemingly absolutely no business showing up in a lo-fi hip hop mix but the little spark of excitement when you hear them for the first time is addictive. I started putting them into a playlist about two years ago, and this tape is made up of some of my favourites.

What direction did you take with your cover art, and what was your process?

Since the tape is all about taking old stuff and giving it a new lease of life, I had a think about what examples there are of this in nature and I couldn’t think of any better than the mushroom, since it essentially feeds off of old matter and then creates something entirely new. And I wish I could say something meaningful about the snail but to be honest I just thought it would look cool to have a snail making its way through a mushroom patch.

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

Oh man there are so many aren’t there! I remember when I first saw the cover of All Hallows EP  by AFI, I absolutely loved it (and kept trying to draw it with limited success). When I was younger I had a habit of buying CDs based on cover art alone which admittedly did occasionally lead to regret but more often than not were albums that I actually really enjoyed. A few that I remember are The Butterfly Collection by The Nerve Agents and The Curse of the Selby Tigers by The Selby Tigers. So many artists that I admire have dabbled in record covers, Jacob Bannon (Converge, Poison the Well), Dan Mumford (Gallows, The Hell), Alex Pardee (Aesop Rock, The Used), Keaton Henson (Dananananaykroyd, Enter Shikari). Also more recently Flume made a 38 minute mixtape visualiser with Jonathan Zawada, it’s called “Hi This Is Flume” and it’s a masterpiece.

All Hallows E.P. – AFI
1999, Nitro Records
Artwork: Alan Forbes

The Curse of the Selby Tigers – Selby Tigers
2002, Hopeless Records
Photography: Tad Kubler

Hey Everyone! – Dananananaykroyd
2009, Best Before Records
Artwork: Keaton Henson

Petitioning The Empty Sky – Converge
1996, Ferret Music / Equal Vision Records
Artwork: Aaron Turner

‘Hi This Is Flume’ [mixtape visualiser] – Flume
Dir: Jonathan Zawada

What did you listen to growing up?

These days I want to seek out as much music as I can through as many genres as I can and I think that comes from hearing a whole lot of different music when I was younger. I got a love of a huge range of artists from my parents ranging from Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to Steeleye Span and Kate Bush. My grandparents had a hi-fi with two tape decks so I’d leave blank cassettes recording on radio stations at odd hours of the day and night, and then make endless mixtapes of all the bizarre stuff I ended up recording. This led to me enjoying a huge range of stuff from very radio friendly pop music to drone rock to hip-hop.

In college I got massively into punk and metal, especially the more intense grindcore and mathcore stuff. And at some point along the way I heard Since I Left You by The Avalanches and their genius use of samples completely blew my mind wide open, and the discovery of which led me eventually to this mixtape. It’s still one of my favourite albums ever, and I added a track by them on this mixtape as a tribute despite it not really fitting my theme...

And what’s on heavy rotation for you at the moment?

Every Time I Die, Turnstile, Little Simz, Pupil Slicer and Kaonashi all released really great stuff recently. I also got into a Filipino producer called Similarobjects earlier this year, in particular an amazing instumentals album called RAW PHILLIPINE LOVE SONG BEAT TAPE (which incidentally has a great cover). He unfortunately put that project to bed but listening to him did lead me to a whole collective/label of Filipino artists called the Buwan Buwan Collective. It’s so worth a dive into, there is some really great stuff on there.

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

By the time this comes out I’ll either be jubilant at finally making it through the whole of Inktober successfully, or bitterly disappointed with myself for failing with only three days left. Hopefully the former but you never know. I created the album art for a lofi hip-hop album of sorts called A Mayfly Is Born And Then It Dies by A Hint Of Vague, I’m still working out how to properly put the art into a cohesive package and I am seriously considering making a Flume style visualiser for it, but I’m not really a film guy so that would be quite an undertaking. ]

I have a few murals coming up with an artist friend of mine in Bangkok called Jayoto (@jayoto). To be honest though, very recently I decided to scrap all of my socials, break away from the style of art that I was creating before which left me very uninspired, and start again under a new alias so I am really just enjoying experimenting and building a new audience (which is a slow but fulfilling process).

Where can we find you?
@Hauntsart on instagram, twitter,, TikTok etc

Cheers Nik! 👋🏽