It’s not unheard of for a musician to make a transition to the world of visual art. Creativity is creativity, wherever you find it. Lately we’ve seen heaps of musos embracing the creative spirit and going DIY on their videos, album art and more.
Paul Towner aka Presser, who goes by the artist pseudonym Dead Galaxy, has done both. Orginally the drummer of alt. rock trio Gerling, Presser discovered his talent for collage art while creating his band’s album covers. Now fully focused on this pursuit, he’s gearing up for his biggest exhibition yet.
Dive into a manic science fiction world with Dead Galaxy, music’s favourite collage artist who has seen the future in vinyl covers.
Part of ARIA week celebrations, Presser’s upcoming Brain Washed exhibition at the Tiny Tailor Gallery in Sydney takes off in about a month’s time and will see 100 vinyl sized artworks on display over the course of a week.
Catching up with Presser himself, we asked first about his days in Gerling.
“Darren and myself started doing collages when we were sending demo tapes out to local indie labels, tour promoters and other bands in the mid 1990’s… Actually colour photocopies were pretty costly back then.”
Back then, and still today, it was always the music of others that inspired his creative process.
“Music does influence my mechanics while working on an idea, 70’s krautrock like Can and Kraftwerk helps my brain to work in an almost conveyer belt momentum. It’s an automatic system that helps me stay in the zone.”
Peering into the dischord of Dead Galaxy’s artwork, the influence of these experimental proto-luminaries is obvious. A messy, imbalanced style permeates his pieces, serving well against the constant mix-up of the retro and the futuristic. Given this juxtaposition, it’s no surprise that Presser is also taking influence from a huge variety of modern musicians.
“King Gizzard would be up there…While working on these 100 collages I was listening to a lot of records, some being DJ Shadow, Beck, Delfonics, M83, Pond, Wu-Tang, Funkadelic, Bonobo, Nick Drake, Daft Punk, Alan Parsons Project, Father John Misty, Beastie Boys, Flying Lotus, Boards Of Canada…”
An eclectic and expansive collection, but what did you expect from an artist who takes considered extracts from old posters, magazines, or whatever else he can find, and stitches them together into a completed collage?
“To find one image in a whole book and dedicate to buying that book for that sole image, to me, I find exciting. To put together foreign objects and assemble them into a different environment, with a collision of connecting dots, from what was past to make new, is something rather wonderful.”
“I get most the material from op shops, garage sales and second hand bookshops. It’s great to go in search of forgotten and unwanted books that have probably been sitting in a box or on a shelf for years. It’s an ongoing search for images and material, a dusty, lonely but interesting adventure… junk vs treasure!”
While Presser made a name for Dead Galaxy creating album art, he’s since taken to other mediums. If you know any hardcore fans of Decoder Ring or Dappled Cities, there’s a chance you’ve seen his art on their merch. Brain Washed is a return to where Presser began, but in a much more ambitious fashion than ever before.
“The LP size exhibition concept started 5 years ago, after a friend asked if I could do an album cover for his band.. I did, and while showing him the piece after a couple of beers, we joked around the idea of doing 100 of them.. “100 album covers of the future?” 5 years have passed and that joke now exists. “
It’s as good a time as ever to centre an exhibition around vinyl art, with the wax currently seeing it’s biggest comeback since the 80’s. The newfound prevalence of vinyl has led to a newfound prevalence of amazing album artwork, not too mention wicked disc art and some batshit insane materials being used to make vinyls. Presser himself is very enthusiastic about vinyl’s renaissance.
“I think it’s great! However vinyl never stopped being produced and manufactured. It’s really good to have more people getting into LPs as a preferred format. Even seeing younger generations getting wax, the other day I saw a 15 year or so kid with a N.W.A LP in one hand and a worn out skateboard under the other arm.”
Brain Washed will be hitting the the Tiny Tailor from the 18th until the 26th of November this year, exhibiting all 100 Dead Galaxy artworks as well as making a hard cover art book available. The book got off the ground largely in part of the legends at Cool Accidents, is LP sized and features every piece from the show – a killer coffee table addition to impress your mates.
On what to expect at the exhibition itself, Presser was eager to share.
“Tiny Tailor gallery is quite a unique space and is perfect for this exhibit. Having all 100 LP sized artworks hung up on the walls will look so good…it could be a bit claustrophobic, in a good way. The initial idea was to make it look like a record store so I think it’ll be a good middle ground.”
“All the pieces have their own identity so I’m just hoping people take time to view each piece and walk out feeling like they have experienced something they don’t really get to see every day.”
All the information you’ll need on Brain Washed can be found on the Facebook event or the poster below. Catch you there.