One of my most gargantuan creative undertakings has finally been finished, polished, packed and shipped. “A Year At Sea” – the debut album from Winter People. Streaming on Rdio and Spotify + available on Itunes.
I also designed the album artwork:
Booklet art for “Valley Hymn”
Booklet art for “Wintercoat”
Booklet Thankyou page
A Year At Sea – album cover
As it has been put to me recently: “you’ve got so many irons in the fire, its hard to keep track”.
Lets start with Iron #1: Winter People. We’ve been on tour recently with Melbourne songstress Gossling. The shows were great and the audiences very warm and appreciative (especially in one little venue in the Blue Mountains, which was probably my personal favourite show of the tour). The final show was in a huge ballroom in Melbourne, called the Thornbury Theatre. It was like playing to a gala dinner!
Also, this is a bit old but I forgot to post about it when it was released. We made this live acoustic clip for “Wishingbone” in an abandoned paper mill. Making video clips tends to be pretty exhausting (and certainly in this instance, after playing the song about 35 times over the course of the shoot, its taken awhile to regain my affection for it!)
And on the note of live-acoustic-videos, we recently did this unplugged version of Gallons in a Darlinghurst living room kindly lent to us by the drummer from the excellent Sydney band: Bearhug
We’re just starting our “Gallons EP” tour now, having played the first show in Melbourne, Sydney on June 7th, then Brisbane after that (then about 16 shows planned for the album tour). So really clocking up the frequent flyer miles in the coming months. Here’s a stream of the Gallons EP:
Iron #2: Matahorn. I’ve been working hard designing / coding / building Matahorn, which is intended to be “a music-centred interview broadcast site, coming from three perspectives: artists, industry and fans. The mission of the site is to give an insight into the personalities who constitute these three perspectives”. So far I’ve gathered up interviews with The Preachers, WIM, Jonti (of Danimals fame), Tim Whitten (engineer for The Go Betweens, Augie March etc.), the head of A&R at Sony ATV, Joel from Umbrella Management (Cloud Control, Urthboy, Belles Will Ring) and a whole lot more lined up. Here’s a sneak-peak at the pre-launch site design (full post on the Matahorn design & dev process coming soon):
Iron #3: Freelancing & Desiging & Start-Upping. I’ve started working on some really fantastic freelance projects lately. One I’m particularly excited about (but can’t talk about till its launched because of a Non-Disclosure) centred around the parallax scrolling effect, will be totally awesome when it launches. I’ve also been working hard on a start-up of my own, an application for the music publishing industry – something along the lines of a Spotify type app for music publishers to make their catalogues available to media buyers in a much more intelligent fashion than the current process allows. Here’s some mock-ups:
Iron #4: Bekin Labs. I feel blessed to live in the internet age primarily because of the web’s power as an educational resource. As someone who has always preferred self-directed learning to a course-driven / institutional model, the internet is like the greatest interactive library ever created. This is really only possible because of generous and knowledgeable folk sharing their discoveries online, and since I spend a great deal of time designing / developing for the web, I’ve decided to create my own resource. Hence I’m currently designing a new site called “Bekin Labs” that will be a journal on all things design, development, web and start-up related. I’ve written the first few articles on Jquery, designing to grids and parallax effects. Hopefully launching in the coming months.
So yes, “many irons in the fire” is about right, but it feels great to be burning all day long!
Between client work, I’ve been toiling away on my “collaborative consumption” ride sharing application. Here are some of the interface designs I’ve created:
Since sociality is a vital aspect of the car-pooling concept, I built in a lot of the familiar functionality / semantics of social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, including group & private messaging and real-time notification. Surprisingly, it was probably this feature set, and not the geo-spatial mathematics, that turned out to be the most technically challenging part of the application. Admittedly, the question I asked myself was: “what’s the most intuitive process flow I can imagine?” not “what’s a reasonably intuitive experience, that won’t be a nightmare to implement?”. But I’m glad I was ambitious because I learned a great deal working through the adversity.
My co-founder and I, flew down to Melbourne two weeks ago to pitch the application for a spot in an venture seed-capital incubator called AngelCube. We beat out 200 other start-up applicants to make it into the 20 team pitching round, and beat out a further 10 teams to get into the final interview round. In the end however the investors passed due to Australia’s taxi law, which prohibits profiting from offering a ride without a taxi licence. This was a worry I’d had from the beginning in terms of commercialising the application. Though, I still feel that a subscription based service could be profitable. Regardless, its been a fantastic experience already, not only from the creative and technical standpoint of designing and developing the application myself, but from a business and networking standpoint as well.
Winter People have just released a track called “Gallons”, the second single from our forth-coming album. It’s one of my personal favourites on the album, lyrically and musically, but most of all as an evocation of a specific mood. You can listen to a stream of it here:
I also designed the artwork and what will become the single tour art:
The band will be doing a fair bit of travelling / playing in the next little while. We’re flying down to Adelaide next week for a show, then we’ve been given (yes given!) a house in Byron Bay to record/write/hangout for a week, then we’re doing the Secret Garden festival, then an East Coast tour off the back of the Gallons release and after that there’s a (potential) run of 10 dates as the support for a pretty cool act, whose name unfortunately I cannot commit to print until we’re confirmed.
Between freelance web-design client work, I’m currently also working on a new collaborative consumption web app revolving around car-pooling. There’s a couple starting up in the states, and a big site in the UK, but I think I can out-gun them all for usability, functionality and interface design (well, here’s hoping anyway!). Will post some design samples in the near future.
Its been a very crazy time this past month. Between a slew of shows with the Winter People, I’ve been completing a few freelance projects (will post on the design / development story there in a week or two) and about three weeks ago we got a call from Los Angeles to say that Rich Costey wanted to mix the rest of the Winter People record – after the excellent Peter Katis had to drop out.
This had always been talked of as a potential with our managers, but given the man’s intimidatingly impressive discography I considered it quite out of the ball park of the reasonable (i.e. Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine, Bruce Springsteen, Aphex Twin, The Shins, Interpol, Bloc Party, The Mars Volta, Philip Glass, Fiona Apple etc.).
But just before we played a show (on a boat!) I got a call from our managers to say that it was all on, leaving me about three days to organize, pack and leave for LA. So I’ve flown, mixed and returned – bringing the Winter People album one step closer towards its completion.
Similarly to having Peter Katis involved with the mixes, I personally got a great sense of validation from Rich wanting to do the project. These are the guys who mixed records from bands who are for me the top-of-the-top of contemporary music game in my opinion. To be a part of that, even vicariously, was pretty exciting stuff. Speaking of bands who are in that top echelon Omar from At The Drive In and The Mars Volta was hanging out in Studio B the whole time we were mixing the record, so I got to hang out with him, and he was a pretty awesome, friendly and funny fellow.
Now I tried to document the journey with some photographs, but I have to confess that I was (rightly so) distracted by the mission at hand, which was to mix the record as perfectly as possible. Hence the relative lack of documentation.
I’ll leave with this quaint factoid of Americana (which I didn’t know): you can buy guns over the counter at a sporting goods store!
So after a lot of photoshop-pixel pushing and midnights spent in code grapple mode, I’ve launched Dylan Baskind.com my online CV site. I’ve gone for a “minimalism-with-a-few-frills” design approach, with an essentially two-tone colour scheme and a focus on making page elements reactive and interactive. I also went for a fixed top bar navigation, so that the various sections of the CV are all immediately and clearly accessible.
There are a few little responsive elements to the layout. The “connecting” atom on the left resizes for smaller screens, and disappears altogether for really tiny screens. Ditto for the logo in the top left corner.
The information architecture challenge I pushed and pulled with on this project was the breadth and scope of what to include in terms of achievements, skills and portfolio work. It’s a bit of a challenge deciding what content is extraneous and what is salient, when creating a site to highlight an all-rounder type of creativity. I dealt with this challenge by including almost all my creative pursuits in the site, but providing a limited selection of examples.
I am putting the finishing touches to a CV / Professional Skills site (I’ll do an extensive blog post of all tasty design elements for the official site-live, which should hopefully be in the next few days). The concept theme behind the site is the idea of nodes and connections, and I’ve (jokingly) coined the term: “Connectionist” to describe the professional practice of connection making.
The final (cherry-on-top) design element was a logo identity. The challenge was to visually represent the Connectionist idea as well as myself. Here’s what I came up with:
The ‘sell’ of the Connectionist being that having a wide field of training allows someone to make connections between disparate disciplines and hence to produce creative solutions.
The design and development of this project has been (notwithstanding a few notable Jquery pains) quite a joy. The web is evolving faster than early man when he got his first set of opposable thumbs!