We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; one of the joys of Jewelboxing is getting to hear from artists, musicians, and filmmakers, and learning about their projects. This week, we had that experience when we received the debut record by The Qualia and got a chance to talk with band member, Lars Casteen and Max Fenton, who designed the album using our Standard cases. The music is fantastic, an eclectic mix somewhere between electro-pop and an Ennio Morricone score(fans of The Decemberists might also like to know that we think Lars sounds a lot like Colin Meloy). On the design side, the case follows the themes in the album, with terrific, worn illustrations and familiar woodtype. Here’s the whole scoop. First from Lars:
“We really wanted to make a record that worked conceptually without being terribly rigid, so we decided a good middle ground would be to give the record a setting; the desert. And to connect the songs’ styles, we integrated elements of country and pop. The record flows gradually from over-the-top stories of the old west to the more banal accounts of everyday life. One of our goals was to have each song have a distinctive feel that matched its subject matter, while letting the whole album feel cohesive. For example, ‘Nevada’s Greatest Man,’ is about a tall-tale-style cowboy who also happens to be a robot. It feels fairly big, dramatic, and aggressive. ‘Center of the Solar System’ is about the immoral, selfish conclusions about suburban living and feels like a radio-friendly, guitar-pop single.”
“People might be interested in the record if they like 80’s and 90’s synth pop, but wanted a greater sense of purpose from the music. The songs are hopefully fun to listen to, and if we’ve done our job, don’t feel fraught with pretension. But we aren’t really interested in making overly ironic or emotional dishonest music, either. When we’re recording a song about a home-built sports car that the protagonist drives into space to meet with angels, our tongues are certainly a bit in cheek, but hopefully we’re getting at something real too.”
And from Max:
“Lars and I collaborated to create a plastic, European design to both support the electronic nature of the music and make the most of printing inkjet onto matte paper. Bold colors, vectored drawings, and a narrative created by the movement of the sun from panel to panel. With that in mind, I treated each panel as a painting. Nevada’s state flag provided the banner and an abundant source of abstract shapes to color with. I chose Clarendon becuase it’s what my buddy Andrew uses for The Believer, a magazine as smart and meticulous as The Qualia’s album. All the rest was conversation, experimentation, and an openness to making changes.”
“Design work always has the possibility of going sour, but when you’re working with your best friend, you make sure that doesn’t happen. We live in different states and keeping our conversation open through phone and e-mail let us stay close, realize his vision, and make a demo that will have a serious shot at being heard. The Jewelboxing templates definitely gave me a running start and let me put my effort into design instead of those printing details that always go wrong.”
We know it’s only a matter of time before Lars gets this terrific album into the hands of a big label, and we’re glad to have been a part of their future success. Same applies to all those in Cincinnati, Laguna Niguel, Mayaguez, Pasadena, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Studio City, Oakland, Toronto, Dallas, Wilton, Thornhill, Chatham, Houston, Desert Hot Springs, Muncie, South Charleston, Shawnee, Madison, Castle Rock, New York, San Diego, Sicklerville, Ann Arbor, St. Augustine, Culver City, Bozeman, and Berlin.