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.