Search This Blog

Daniel Caesar:
Pilgrim's Paradise

Daniel Caesar's 'Pilgrim's Paradise' is a another project I've been working on since late Summer. Liam [MacRae] and I spent the past few months putting an entire presentation together that I trust is a reflection of Danny's music as a whole. Most artists today, especially budding artists, don't have the luxury of entering the music business prepackaged. As the traditional structure of the music business evolved, many aspects that developed artists previously are now disregarded or often overlooked. This isn't to say there aren't artists today that push the boundaries with their album artwork, but I do feel it's become more of a luxury to have great presentation than it is a standard. From the colour palette, wardrobe, to live performance, this is a brief recap of how we tied sound and visualization together.

First, we would scout and decide on a set of locations. We hit cemeteries, churches, harbour fronts, watched classic music videos and bought old CDs and vinyl just to look at the artwork. We saw the care and detail put into albums of the past—the imagery was just as necessary as the music, and that became our approach to this project. Liam and I were constantly back and forth, challenging each other's ideas in search of the most effective concept.

Being brought up religious myself served as an advantage for this project. I could identify with much of Danny's subject matter and translate it visually. These two-faced antiques (above) were among many props we hand picked from East Room. One of my favourite stories from the Bible is of a dude named Lot and his wife, who after disobeying God's instructions not to look back while escaping Sodom—turned to salt. These marble heads remind me of that story whenever I see them.

This is my favourite song on the EP. Also the first song Jordan Evans sent me once we started working on the project. We carefully arranged the antique books and wood cherub together to bring the track title to life. The cover depicts the death of an angel drowning in debt. Throughout the song, the words death or taxes are never actually sung, which left a lot of room to play with symbolism.

The image and text placement (above) alone is somewhat of a tribute to 808's & Heartbreak. Notice the numeric superscript next to the title; this was in reference to the format of Bible verses.

I think even 5 years from now I'll look back at this photo and still feel like the sand coloured Wallabees were the right choice. The pillars stay in line with the theme, adding just enough weight to the image without being too overbearing. Timeless. This is the photo I hoped we'd get after looking through all that old vinyl. The sun was just starting to set; a warm, natural light gave the space and wardrobe this subtle glow.

Technically, we had about two weeks to finalize a set layout for the live show, but only another 24 hours to set it up Saturday afternoon through Sunday. You may or may not be familiar with the work of Cy Twombly, but once you do your googles I'm sure you'll catch our reference of his apartment in Rome. Them shits look heavy, right? They are. Those are $30,000 one-of-a-kind steel gates right there. We got those and the upright piano up a few levels of stairs without a scratch. Just before the show, we lit a bunch of candles for that MTV Unplugged feel.

The live show was intimate, heartfelt and seamless. Man, I just want to see this kid win. We had the creative freedom we needed and I was able to put a lot of energy into this project being a fan of the music first. If you haven't heard any of Danny's stuff yet, you can stream it here, and purchase it there.

Heavy As Heaven Mixtape

*For promotional use only* Click cover (above) to download. Photos by Tharan Parameshwaran in Swaziland.

F/W '15 Preview

Took it back to some post-World War II inspired design for this upcoming NEEDS&WANTS Fall/Winter delivery. No matter what they tell you, the best design [both form and function] is from the military. I don't remember the moment I decided on this direction as a followup to Pre-Fall, but I noticed in my day to day I was dressing like some teenager who dropped out of cadets. This new delivery includes four new jacket styles, two heavier flight jackets for the Winter months, and two lightweight jackets made of Potiswa Satin, along with a re-issued varsity from 2014. We didn't do our signature leather and wool mash-up from previous seasons. Instead, we paired Nylon and Wool, Satin and Suede, maintaining that element of experimentation we became known for.

I'm sure its widely believed the Sujakan souvenir jackets derive from baseball, when in fact, these jackets were worn by American GI's on tour in Vietnam and Japan. They would often add iconography or personalized embellishments to their jackets, but I'm sure you're now familiar with the NEEDS&WANTS design approach of stripping traditional design down to its core. My dude at HOMEGROWNDIAMONDS shot a guest editorial in Japan and Norway titled "Tokyo Tour" that you can view here.

If you're on the NEEDS&WANTS mailing list you received early access to the Tokyo Tour jacket already, otherwise you'll have to hold tight until October 1st for the delivery [which isn't far away]. Editorial photography courtesy of Othello Grey — product photography by Liam Macrae.

At Least We Had Fun

I went go-karting, I played with Lego, I got caught in the rain, I got lost on the New York subway (duh!) I lived in my favourite jeans, I read a few books, I lost two hard-drives, I got tanned (right?), I went to the after-party, I tried to get some sleep, I got glasses, I skipped town, I wished Meek thought about it first, I was skressed out! When that thing happened I didn't post it on Instagram, I cut my hair shorter, I walked... a lot. Yo, if any parts of this Summer looked like fun, its cause it was. Over and out.

Quebec City

I probably should've taken French classes more seriously in school. I'm paying for it now, out here feeling like a tourist in my own country. Quebec City has got high levels of decadence, though. This was a planned-last-minute trip to do some location scouting. I took the VIA Rail to Montreal for cheeeeap. Its a 5 hour ride that I whole heartedly recommend—especially if you can book a ticket that departs in the evening.

Old Quebec City is about 8 hours from Toronto. Scenic is only the half of it, and this is the closest you'll get to France within Canada. These photos made possible by my iPhone, which have also been grammed.

Took Me Long Enough

Bro. Broooooo! Was the last time I wrote something on here really over a year ago?! Mixtape posts don't count. I didn't think I'd ever have to use being busy as an excuse but I've just been busy. I don't know, I guess with less time to sit down and write I was drawn toward being more visual than literal? Either way, this post is an effort to get back into the habit of journaling what I was doing, or planned to do. Really I just needed to get out there, move around and travel (see the gram, and contributions to the NEEDS&WANTS blog.) What I'm seeing is instrumental to what I'm making. Without any form of discovery or exploration, I find it extremely difficult to design anything. If I try to recap from where I left off this would start to feel like an endless scroll so I'll try to keep this short and highlight the most significant stories.

A series of deliveries have been released via the NEEDS&WANTS web store since, uh, whenever I last mentioned it. The latest editorial (shot by Liam MacRae) features the recent Pre-Fall collection of varsities hand-crafted in mostly Suede. The pink varsity pictured above was inspired by a squad of flamingos I saw during my visit to the LA Zoo. Thats what I meant when I said I need to be seeing things to keep making things. The new A/W 2015 jackets are military inspired and should be up on the site come October 1st.

Since forever I was trying to start my own magazine, newspaper or just publish something. With a small team of people smarter than me, we started NEEDS&WANTS Paper last Fall and will release its third issue around the same time this year. A few things are in motion for the growth of the publication and I imagine in a couple of years it will outgrow being just an accessory to an outerwear brand to something of its own. The web store has been renovated once again — shop the collection here.

I really felt as though I'd made it to the edge of Earth hiking through Fogo Island, Newfoundland. There are some places you'd have to see with your own eyes to understand. The pictures I took don't even illustrate how cold and otherworldly it was. What started out as the backdrop for a content piece ended up being the at centre of reconnecting with my heritage. We ran the story in issue two of NEEDS&WANTS Paper, and you can also check out the editorial in full here.

Speaking of heritage, my last trip to Jamaica changed me. That was the trip that taught me the importance gratitude — for the simplest of things. I won't go to deep into it since I wrote a more extensive journal entry about it you can read here. Kinda sucks, though, one of my go-to cameras suffered water damage from a boat ride in Treasure Beach, I haven't been able to find a replacement since.

Ok so, aside from all thats taken place in between, we should be up to date — for now. Ugh! Now that I think about it, I'm not into this blog layout/design anymore. If I take lapse from posting again it'll most likely be that I'm trying to update the design or maybe I'll just cop out and revert to a splash page. Oh, and don't click any of categorized links beneath the header, I took the images down; I'm still trying to decide how to display my old (and new) work. See, you never really have it all figured out, you just learn as you go grow.

Spendorness Mixtape

You need this music in your life. Have I lied to you yet?

*For promotional use only* Click covers (above) to download. Cover photo (Alain Delon & Romy Schneider) by Jacques Deray, from the 1969 film “La Piscine.“