While many have become familiar with Shlohmo (Henry Laufer) for his self-taught production abilities, top-notch remixes, and unique mix of simple melodies and penetrating bass, most don't realize that he's also a visual artist who creates much of his own artwork. His latest EP, Laid Out (released by Friends of Friends/Wedidit), has as many ghostly, emotive moments as it does empowering ones, best evidenced by songs "Don't Say No (ft. How to Dress Well)" and "Later."
Laid Out's cover is a collage of elements that supports the sonic excellence of the EP. Read on to learn more about his artistic process in all aspects, and buy the EP on iTunes or Bandcamp.
What influenced the Laid Out EP cover? Is that you behind the window on the right?
Many things. I've been making low quality collages on a free Internet program for a while. I thought I'd make one specifically for this cover. And yes, it is me behind the window.
I like things that are too blatantly sad, to the point of corniness—romanticizing sadness, death, unlucky numbers, and banners with nothing to say.
Could you explain the items on the cover in terms of how you chose them and why? Why is there no text?
I tend to choose the items based more on a visual design aesthetic than what they symbolize. Strictly visually speaking, this is just another one of my experiments in the juxtaposition of images in different resolutions and the placement of color. Things in the foreground are intentionally blurrier or more pixelated than the things behind them.
I don't really take these things that seriously though; it's just me joking with the state of the Internet and our culture as bad Internet users. The things that inspire me are the menus inside bad Mexican restaurants with pixelated, cropped images and blurry fonts laid on. As for not including text, I think text is stupid. Fonts are stupid. I specifically only use text in design for ironic purposes or to display something you can't with imagery. Plus, if you don't already know what record you're buying, then it'll be a nice surprise I guess.
As a whole, how do the flowers, dog, empty banner, marble fireplace, window, and #13 fit into the musical concept of the EP?
They don't necessarily, but I think the combination of them and their placements give a fairly accurate representation of the record. Some things are blurry, and some things are too sharp, but everything is very stark and very blunt—poorly and sharply cropped and dry. The images by themselves are all kind of playful, but matched with the window photograph, the whole piece takes on a really melodramatic and overly melancholic vibe. I like things that are too blatantly sad, to the point of corniness—romanticizing sadness, death, unlucky numbers, and banners with nothing to say.
How did you make the cover? Did you scan the items and/or find them online?
All of these things were found online, except for the cell phone photo of me behind the window. That was taken by my friend, Ben. I collage it all in a free web program called Pixlr. I don't own Photoshop anymore.
What most inspires me are the people who can't make things right—things like fucked up manufacturing, B-grade products, and knock-off brands. That's what I like.
You Instagram a lot. It seems like you prefer to take photos over tweeting, even. Are you intending to keep a visual record of anything in particular?
All the photos I take are real life finds of "still lifes" that, when taken out of context, inherit the same aesthetic qualities of my art and my album cover, for instance. An object's placement in space versus its origin can really translate to this same, sad romanticism bullshit. These photos generally say what I want to say better than any tweet could.
When you make music, do you intend to conjure images in the minds of listeners?
I don't intend on people seeing anything specific, so I think my visual aesthetic tends to get disassociated from my music. I think that's why a lot of people who like my music fucking hate my Instagram and my visual art, because they just don't associate the two, which is totally fine. I just don't really get it.
Do you have any artists, designers, or album covers that have inspired your music or artwork?
Shit, I'm so anti-design. What most inspires me are the people who can't make things right—things like fucked up manufacturing, B-grade products, and knock-off brands. That's what I like.
What else might people not realize about the visual aspect of your music?
I think it's just not something that people think about at all when listening to my records, so I don't think they realize much of anything about my visual aesthetic. Either that or people just think I'm drunk all the time on the Internet posting shitty photos, not understanding that these things might be intentional.