Ok, possibly time to talk a little about the cover of the album.
Khaidian’s overall plan is fairly crazy, but when looked at properly in terms of the market, should make some sense. For example, most bands have a limited period of time in which to promote their albums. There is usually a 3 month lead in time from having an album completed (from being pressed) through to general release. And then from release, the press engine usually lasts around another one to two months. During this time, bands will tour and promote their album. This has been the traditional way of releasing music and in some respects has now been superseded by the release of music on the Internet. It can be instantaneously released, reviewed and promoted. You can also release one track a week if you saw fit. This would have the added bonus of constant content, and of hooking your audience in to the ‘lifestyle’ of the band. They go on that journey with you and you are always present through the release of new material. marketing…
Khaidian isn’t quite doing that though. The band will be releasing two records (the original plan was four!) to be released over a period of time to maintain momentum and relevancy. The artwork will span across the covers or relate to each other in some larger respect.
Khaidian’s original intention for the cover was to have something really simple. So simple in fact that it would probably have been just a white logo on a black background. Of course, being Khaidian nothing ever really stays that simple. Especially when there’s the chance to overcomplicate matters. This would be Khaidian’s official debut and it’s always nice to make an impression, so amid all the talk of deconstruction of the album artwork, I suggested Billie. I’ve always liked what Billie produces and as well as content, I love her use of realism, clarity and technique. It would not be too overpowering and yet eye-catching.
Khaidian are not a typical metal band, and as such we really didn’t want a typical metal look… personally I have grown to hate such aesthetics. Here are some examples of what I hate:
These examples are pretty much the standard of most metal nowadays (and possibly the last 20 years). They do tend to be a particular type of genre though, usually along the lines of classic metal, thrash, death and power metal. As much as I can appreciate the work that might go into something like this, and of course I also have a fondness for some classic album artwork, that really isn’t what Khaidian want to represent.
Artworks that I feel more drawn towards are usually slightly more minimal, non typical metal artwork.
At the end of the second year I started talking to Billie about the possibility of creating artwork for Khaidian’s album. There’s been very little artwork created for the band so far, so it was essentially a blank slate. There’s no preconceptions about what the band represents as the name itself doesn’t mean anything at all, (despite a constant in joke that it’s Sanskrit for ‘making everything needlessly overcomplicated’). The primary hook we were working on was the use of roots. This has taken hold as a key component because of the bands logo created by myself a few years ago.
Billie’s use of trees, hair and various elements like this prompted us to look at utilising them within the image creation for Khaidian. An initial thought was to have her use of mirror imaging incorporated into the image, if not it completely.
We were really happy with what she had created, but decided to develop it further. The lyrics and content from singer Andy tend to be more personal explorations than overtly political, fantastical or horrific, so the choice was made to use human figures within the artwork. An example provided by bassist, Joe:
Billie then created a few sketches based on these ideas and sent them over to us to see what we preferred.
The use of the two heads spread over the two CDs seemed to work best for me. This allowed for some consistency between the covers and yet made them different. With this decision, Billie continued to work on some new sketches.
Although fleshing out the initial idea, there was some element of humanity missing from the imagery. I suggested to Billie the use of a more realistic anatomy, similar to Gray’s anatomy. I’ve always loved the images within as they have a real sense of tension and fascination despite them being medical illustrations. The idea was to incorporate veins, muscle and sinew into the root motif.
This definitely seemed like a great direction to be going in. There would be a figure on each CD and their heads would be linked by the roots from the top of the head. I sent over a quick mockup to Billie.
We decided upon using a fairly aged book look, something that fit with the type of imagery being produced. Billie then started to produce some final drawings of both CD covers, as they had to work as a pair.
We attempted to combine the original kaleidoscope drawings to see if they worked together. We decided that the images on their own worked so much better as the overlaid kaleidoscope cover was way too busy for our liking.
That decided we ended up splitting each head onto a cover and just using paper and grunge textures to build up an atmosphere.
I think we’re both really happy with how it’s turned out, and the rest of Khaidian are very happy as well. there’s a simplicity to it, without it being boring or too minimal.
Next stop. Inlay designs.