talking vinyl with paul smith, stephen jones, maisie cousins, juno calypso and more

With the annual Secret 7" exhibition kicking off tomorrow, we asked a few of our favourite contributors about the inspiration behind their designs.

by Matthew Whitehouse
07 April 2016, 11:30am

The premise of Secret 7" is straight forward enough. You take 7 tracks from 7 of the best-known musicians around, press each one 100 times to 7" vinyl, ask various clever people from around the world to interpret them in their own style and then chuck them on sale. Simple, huh? Well, yes, except the whole thing's done in secret and you don't know who created which sleeve, or even what song it's for, until you've parted with your hard-earned cash. It's like a big 7" lottery, but with people like Sir Paul Smith, Stephen Jones OBE and Juno Calypso involved, you kind of have to imagine they'll all be pretty good. You can check them out for yourself at the Sonos Studio in Shoreditch from tomorrow, but in the meantime, we asked a few of our favourite contributors to tell us about the inspiration behind their designs. See if you can pick up any hints below... 

Sir Paul Smith

Hello Sir Paul. Without giving away any details, what was the thinking behind your design?
Growing up, my Dad was an amateur photographer and so since I was a kid I've taken lots of photos. My brain works in a very visual way and I find taking photos helps as a way to log all the things I see and find inspiring. The design for my 7" features a photo that I've taken. I won't give it away but the image certainly captures my personality pretty well!

What's your favourite record sleeve of all time?
Self Portrait by Bob Dylan.

Your work seems to draw so much from rock 'n' roll... What's the most rock 'n' roll thing you've ever done?
I'm not sure I can claim to be all that rock'n'roll but I'm lucky enough to have met and be friends with a lot of pretty rock 'n' roll people. David Bowie, Patti Smith, Jimmy Page… The list goes on!


Maisie Cousins

Hello Maisie Cousins. Without letting it slip, what was the thinking behind your design?
I knew it had to be a colourful image and also a tactile one. I also really love the visuals the band already have and wanted it to compliment them to an extent!

Will we be able to spot it?
I reckon so, it's got all my favourite things in it.

What's your favourite record sleeve of all time?
Tough question but The Cramps Look Mom No Head! and Donna Summer Bad Girls are great.

If you could design artwork for any artist today who would it be and why?
Probably Bjork or Grimes. I feel they go through similar emotions as female musicians as I do an artist.


Kosmo Vinyl

Hello Kosmo Vinyl. Without ruining the surprise, what was the thinking behind your design?
I tried to put in a bit of information both about the recording artist and what I think the record is about. Last year I did The Supremes' 1967 Reflections and used Donyale Luna - the first black model to appear on the cover Vogue - along with the Vietnam War and Inner City Riot Police. Can't say anything about this years's effort - it's a secret!

What are your earliest memories of buying records?
The first record I bought was Tobacco Road by The Nashville Teens in a Woolworths in Folkestone while on holiday. The first LP I bought I saved up for, it was Otis Blue by Otis Redding and he remains my favourite male singer.

You do a 'vinyl of the week' on your Facebook… What do you think the enduring appeal of it is?
Vinyl records are one of the wonders of the second half of the last century. The look, be it labels or covers, the feel of the shiny black disc and the sound. You can't beat the sound of a record, there's a warmth there you don't get via any other medium. A new generation has discovered how great they are and they want in!

What's your favourite record sleeve of all time?
My favourite record sleeve of all time is always changing. I just did something for this year's Record Store Day in the USA on the subject of favourite record covers, that will be given away on April 26th, and for that I chose The Who Sell Out. The designer David King got Roger Daltrey to sit in a tub of baked beans it's an unforgettable image.

Finally... The so-called "Anniversary of Punk" is upon us. Is Punk dead?
No, I don't think Punk is dead. I don't even think Punk is only a music, although I do remember when a lot of music critics used to say Punk isn't music at all. Punk is in idea and the idea is to do something the way you want to do regardless of the status quo using whatever means you have to do it with it. Punk does not belong to Britain, it didn't start there and it won't end there. If you want to define Punk beginning with the first Sex Pistols gig and ending with Sid Vicious death or some other specific event, then of course it's over. But I see the London celebrity criminal Jack Sheppard who was hung in 1724 age 22 as Punk and as I write this, all over the world are people using all kinds of technology in an anti-ignorant pro-creative way. To me they are Punk.


Mads Teglers

Hello Mads Teglers. Without letting the cat out of the bag what was the thinking behind your design?
I imagined something with a candid feeling and a composition with a sensual twist and catch.

Will we be able to spot it? Is there a common thread in your work that you brought to the sleeve?
Yes, indeed it has the same quirkiness and narrative feeling which you see in my work, as I try to capture the moment and use the composition of the snapshot realism. I always try to push and provoke as well which you will also notice.

What's your favourite record sleeve of all time?
It is really hard to answer since I have so many, to me the music and artwork should have some kind of a connection to fulfil it. At the moment I'm listeninh to the new Diiv album and I love the artwork of that album. Some all time favourites are the Sonic Youth Dirty album and Spiritualized Let it Come Down - both genius covers!

If you could design artwork for any artist today who would it be and why?
It should be an artist or group with whom my work could benefit and develop the entire visual image. I would love to work with bands like Diiv and Sunflower Bean, both indie bands, who could be interesting to interpret and add my style to.


Juno Calypso

Hello Juno Calypso. Without placing all your cards on the table, what was the thinking behind your design?
I wanted to show somebody becoming a creep while waiting alone in romantic anticipation.

Will people be able to spot which is yours?
If they've seen my work before then yes, I think so.

Your work explores ideas of female sexuality… Are there any musicians you feel an affinity with in that sense?
Nicki Minaj, if I'm in a good mood. And for the rest of the time - Sade, Mariah Carey, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston. I like strong women singing sad songs.

What music would soundtrack The Honeymoon?
Jagged Edge - Let's Get Married; Tammi Terrell - All I Do Is Think About You; Fern Kinney - Together We Are Beautiful; R Kelly - It Seems Like You're Ready; Keith Sweat - Nobody; George McCrae - Honey I (I'll Live My Life For You); Stacy Lattisaw - I Could Love You So Divine; The Sweet Inspirations - Why Marry?; Millie Jackson - (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right; Brenda Lee - You Can Depend On Me; The Three Degrees - Maybe; Mariah Carey - We Belong Together; Whitney Houston - Didn't We Almost Have It All; Johnny Mathis - Misty; Elvis Presley - Crying In The Chapel.

What's your favourite record sleeve of all time?
I really like Millie Jackson's Back to the Shit.


Gavin Turk

Hello Gavin Turk. Without telling the whole world, what was the thinking behind your design?It just felt right and made me laugh; not too much thinking though.

Will people be able to spot which is yours? Is that even the point?No, I don't think so and it's irritating to think that I don't possess a powerful pictorial signature.

What's your favourite record sleeve of all time?
Fela Kuti and the Africa 70 - Shakara.

Can art be rock 'n' roll?
Nah! (Maybe).

Harriet Vine MBE and Rosie Wolfenden MBE (Tatty Devine)

Hello Tatty Devine. Without blabbing altogether, what was the thinking behind your design?
When we saw the track list for this years Secret 7" we were immediately drawn to one as it tied into the theme of our current Seasonal jewellery collection.

Will people be able to spot which is yours?
If you know Tatty Devine, then yes you'll be able to spot it - the materials we use and the shape is a signature style for our jewellery designs.

You've obviously made merch for many musicians in the past… How easy was it to transfer what you do to a 7"?
We have made merch and worked with lots of bands over the past 17 years. Music has always been so important to us. Drawing lies at the heart of what we do, so to translate it into cover art is really exciting!

If you could design merch for any artist today who would it be and why?
It would be amazing to do merch for so many people but I guess if we had to narrow it down it would be Seth Bogart because he's fabulous and has a track on his new record called Plastic! Martin Creed's band Owada are also brilliant and he taught us at Chelsea School of Art, and girl band Dream Wife because they are look like they are really fun!

What's your favourite record sleeve of all time?
The Velvet Underground & Nico - it's one of the best artworks of all time! We love Andy Warhol and the Tatty Devine Banana Necklace is a homage to this album.


Stephen Jones, OBE

Hello Stephen Jones. Do you think people are going to be able to spot which is yours then?
Hopefully, yes!

You used to live with Boy George... Would he have ever let you have a go with one of his sleeves?
No, I think Boy George wanted to reserve me for making hats for him.

What's your favourite album cover of all time?
For Your Pleasure by Roxy Music

Finally... It's the "Anniversary of Punk" this year. Is Punk dead?
Not in my heart it isn't.


Find out more about this year's Secret 7", in support of Amnesty International, here


Kate Moss image courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2015
Kosmo Vinyl image courtesy of Shawn Vinson

Maisie Cousins
Tatty Devine
Juno Calypso
Paul Smith
Gavin Turk
stephen jones
kosmo vinyl
mads teglers