Illustrated Tapes 143: I went out dancing in 2008 and never came back

Curated by Stephen Maurice Graham

Stephen is an illustrator currently based in Cambridgeshire.

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

Hi. Thanks for having me. Well, this was an interesting process, at first I thought it would be pretty easy, like most people I listen to and add things to personal playlists all the time but its been a while since I made something for other people to enjoy, I forgot how much it affects things to have a perceived audience looking over your shoulder, it makes the curation of a mix much more interesting.

I went back in time for my selections and limited myself to a murky middle 00s (aughties? naughties?) period. The advent of the New Year had me in a reflective mood and I thought it would be fun to try and compile songs from when I was much younger and going out a lot to indie nights around Manchester. I wanted to try and capture a period when I think life felt quite optimistic and carefree; social media was in its infancy, Obama was President, everyone agreed that fascism was still really bad and we should just trust in whatever it is people in Wall Street are doing. We were all dancing right on the precipice. Looking back on it there’s lots of memories of indulgent, never ending nights out and, at the end, a new dawn for a bunch of young people facing up to unemployment and eternal austerity.

There’s a song on here, ‘22 Grand Job’ by The Rakes, which probably should be the official song of that period as it perfectly captures what it was like to be young and making just enough money to live and go out in the city at the time. The song rips along coming in at under two mins and captures the feeling of going out for a few too many pints, ending up in a club and having to shout that you’re ‘on an early’ tomorrow and have to get the last bus home. It’s simultaneously extremely thrilling and mundane.

I could drone on about more of the songs I’ve picked but really what I wanted to do with these songs is play some stuff you know, some stuff you might have forgotten and bring you back to a time when you’d leave the house with only an iPod stuck on shuffle for entertainment on the bus into work.

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

I was really inspired by indie posters from the period. This artwork is a love letter to the style of the time, doodles mixed with bubble writing typography.  Defiantly homemade on cracked copies of CS3. I started there, scanning in moleskine journals and trying to colour them digitally. I didn’t even know that you could have layers in Photoshop. The process was listening to the songs and plucking out the lyrics and arranging them in the most 2006 way I possibly could muster; I was trying to channel something that I would’ve drawn back then, something that could still pass as something produced back then.

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

My favourite album cover of all time is Uh-Oh by David Byrne, I hope one day I can make something this good:

Uh Oh – David Byrne
1992, Luaka Bop / Sire / Warner Bros.
Painting: Brian Dewan
Drawings: Mr. Chick, Scott Stowell
What did you listen to growing up?

I didn’t listen to a lot of music until I became an older teen and then I veered towards punk and indie stuff, immediately becoming one of those annoying muso guys.  But when I was really young my favourite song was ‘The King of Rock and Roll’ by Prefab Sprout and I still stand by that.  

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

Recently when I’m working it’s either Tadaima by Akiko Yano or Drunk by Thundercat.  Last month it was Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas.

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

I have three (3!) THREE exciting projects revolving around the world of video gaming about to all either happen or get talked about in the next couple of months so I’m really excited about all of those things. 

Where can we find you? or on twitter @400facts

Cheers Steve 👋🏽