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🎵 IT213: Edgelands
✏️ Tim Bird
🗓 14.10.23

Tim is a comic book artist and illustrator, based in Winchester, UK.

Hi Tim. Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

I wanted to create a soundtrack for overlooked spaces. Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley wrote a great book called Edgelands – it's all about the places in between. Places you might pass through on your way to somewhere else but not notice. Bits of land on the edge of town – not part of the city or the countryside. The big post-industrial landscapes of decaying factories are often glamorised in music, but not so much the patch of nettles between Tesco and the motorway.

I tried to pick a mix of songs that picked up on the atmosphere of these edgeland places. There are references to out-of-town retail parks, suburbs, and railway embankments. I included instrumental songs that I felt had a similar vibe, looking to bands on the Ghostbox and Clay Pipe Music labels who take inspiration from the urban landscape and filter it through hauntological reverberations.

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

I wanted to try and show a familiar place from the wrong angle. You can see the glow of city lights in the background, but we’re looking out from under a bridge at the back of a building which is hidden by a wall and barbed wire. We’re with the ghosts – the forgotten elements of the city, forever pushing abandoned shopping trolleys through disused canals.

I make comics and zines, and my work is often about place. I like to explore places by walking – the work of psychogeographers such as Iain Sinclair and Nick Papadimitriou have had a big influence on me. I take lots of photographs of the places I visit which inspire my work.

For this piece I worked in brush pen, drawing different elements separately. I like to work with physical layers as though I’m creating a screenprint. Then I combine and colour everything digitally.

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

I’m a big fan of Maxim Peter Griffin’s illustration work and he’s worked with Spaceship Mark on a number of recordings.

Outcrops – Spaceship
2019, Where It's At Is Where You Are
Artwork: Maxim Peter Griffin

I thought Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space was an interesting approach to designing an album cover – the case was designed to look like a box of tablets and the CD was sealed in a foil packet and had to be popped out like a pill. The liner notes looked like a doctor’s prescription. It played on their reputation as being quite a druggy band.

Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space – Spiritualized®
1997, Dedicated
Design: Farrow Design, Spaceman

Bjork combines music and visuals in a really exciting way. She released one album (Biophilia) as an app so the listener could interact with the music and explore ideas around nature and technology.

Biophilia – Bjork
2011, One Little Indian / Polydor
Cover: M/M (Paris)

What did you listen to growing up?

Remembering the music I listened to as a teenager makes me cringe. Very earnest indie rock by bands like the Manic Street Preachers and Smashing Pumpkins. I read Melody Maker every week and my tastes didn’t go beyond guitar bands. When I left home, I became friends with a music student called Patrick who made me some mix-tapes and my taste became much more eclectic. We still make playlists for each other occasionally and he still introduces me to music I wouldn’t otherwise have found. I’m going to see the Penguin Café Orchestra soon on his recommendation.

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

I try to vary it as much as possible. The internet’s great for having access to an almost infinite supply of music, but sometimes the choice can be overwhelming. I always end up going back to indie pop – it's my musical comfort blanket.

I listen to the NME’s C86 compilation whenever I need a pick me up. Bands like The Pastels, The Popguns, The Darling Buds can always get me out of a slump – all badly recorded jangly guitars and out of tune vocals. Perfect!

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

I’m currently studying an MA in Illustration at Falmouth University, so I'm trying to be open to new creative opportunities. I’ve been making zines for years but am now trying to find ways of making a living from drawing. It's proving hard though. I’m working on a graphic novel, so when that’s finished maybe it’ll make me millions.

Where can we find you?

Website: timothybird.co.uk
Instagram: @timothybird

Thanks Annabel 👋🏽

Saint Etienne - Sweet Arcadia / King Of Woolworths - Delia Derbyshire / Ghostpoet - Off Peak Dreams / Steve Queralt - Glitches / Pye Corner Audio - The Hidden City / The Young'uns - A Place Called England / Arab Strap - The Turning of Our Bones / Warrington Runcorn New Town Development Plan - Old Hall / Children Of Alice - The Liminal Space / John Cooper Clarke - Beasley Street / D. Rothon - The Bus That Never Came, The Train That Never Left / Burial - Night Bus / The Space Lady - Ghost Riders in the Sky / Pulp - After You ︎