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DBA member catch-ups: a glimpse into the moments that shape our week

Informative, supportive, therapeutic, and energising in equal measures; through the Covid-19 pandemic, our online weekly member catch-ups became a permanent and sought-after opportunity to connect with peers, share experiences, challenges, and discuss ideas.

Amongst the idea-churning, problem-solving and lively discussions, members have seized this opportunity to share a little creative inspiration. One of our regulars, Nigel Davies from PIN Creative, shares vinyl album reviews that resonate with the mood of the week. Explore this gripping story of life in design over the course of lockdown through the magic of music.

kraftwerk-autobahn-1974Kraftwerk; Autobahn, 1974.

“I can remember the exact day of the week, the exact place and the exact car I was in when I first heard Kraftwerk’s Autobahn. It was a Wednesday in Whiston Village and I was sat in a brown Hillman Imp. I was 5 years old.

I know this because Mum always had her hair set on that day at the same place. I waited in the car listening to the radio and one week they played the full 22 minute version of the track.

I was mesmerized by the sounds. Bleeps. Wooshes. Clicks. Beats.
‘Wir fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n auf der Autobahn’

I was a million miles away from the speed and futuristic glamour. The Hillman never went on a motorway.

Music has evolved rapidly; 20’s show music and crooners, 30’s blues and folk, 40’s jazz and big band, 50’s rock’n’roll, 60’s pop’n’soul, 70’s disco and electronica. Then what?

Punk; rock without learning to play guitar
Grunge; rock without tuning the guitar
Hip-hop; cut and paste the past with attitude
EDM; Kraftwerk with newer laptops
Busker stadium rock; even Coldplay had to sample Kraftwerk to gain kudos

Listening to the radio, drinking a bottle of pop, waiting for Mum in 1974 was the day music stopped evolving and I started exploring”.

Nigel Davies, PIN Creative

Whiplash; Soundtrack, 2014.

whiplash-album-cover-Justin-Hurwitz“Just like Noel Fielding in The Mighty Boosh I used to ‘Fear Jazz, fear the lack of rules, lack of boundaries’ and preferred the ‘Gloomy racket and electro-nonsense’ of The Human League.

Eventually, I discovered Jazz. Not Starbucks Jazz, but the sort of Jazz that has made it the ‘Most important art form in the 20th Century’.

In Whiplash, an ambitious drummer (Miles Teller) under the guidance of ruthless instructor (JK Simmons) is drilled to become a world-class player. “Full Metal Racket”.

The accompanying score by Justin Hurwitz captures the best tunes from the film; drum solos, swing jazz, big band jazz, jazzy jazz. (The extended version captures all the bad tunes which are just as good).

“No two words are more harmful in the English language than ‘Good Job’”, informs JK as the film depicts the hard work it takes to be “The Greatest”. It’s impressive that the lead actor plays the drums throughout. When told, “Wipe that blood off my drum kit”. It was his own blood.

But you don’t have to shed blood to be the greatest.

Just play your greatest hits; hard, fast and loud enough so people can hear you.

Enjoy your ‘Jazz trance’.”

Nigel Davies, PIN Creative

White Stripes; De Stijl, 2000.

white-stripes-de-stijlRecently I was asked if I’d ever bought a record for the cover. The answer was a confident “No”. But if I was going to, then maybe The White Stripes’ second album De Stijl would be the one.

Jack White is a musician with a strong vision and an obsession with the number 3.

3 instruments; Meg’s pounding drums, Jack’s angular guitar, raw vocals.
3 colours; always black, white and red.
Third Man Records; his record label has a clear purpose “Your Turntable’s Not Dead.”

If mega-hit Seven Nation Army is a football terrace anthem then De Stijl is the passion and rawness of a Sunday league match. Crunching guitar tackles. Pulverising drum kicks.

The music still sounds great; lo-fi garage rock with a stripped back simplicity that echoes Jack’s vision. There’s also fragility and softness amongst the harder edges. Jack definitely has the blues and it’s the blues that keeps me coming back.

I recently discovered Muddy Water’s 1968 album Electric Mud aimed at attracting a rock audience. Critics hated it. The re-issue was pressed by Third Man Records and it’s brilliant. Jack clearly heard it a long time before I did.

Listen to them both. Maybe at the same time. Loud.”

Nigel Davies, PIN Creative

Paul Weller, On Sunset, 2020.

paul-weller-on-sunset-2020“The Jam makes me wish I had an elder brother. I was 7 when In the City came out but I remember seeing Funeral Pyre on Top Of The Pops. I was transfixed. They split up the next year. Gutted.

Paul Weller’s new album has a seemingly reflective narrative with music that might confuse casual fans.

Jazz funk-fusion wig-outs?
Music-hall period Bowie?
Nursery space folk?
It doesn’t matter. He’s Paul Weller.

There’s a bonus track on the Deluxe version; Ploughman. It sounds like The Wurzles covering Iggy Pop’s Passenger, speeded up. And I love it.

The lyrics confirm everything we need to know about his life.

Ploughman; Paul Weller (2020)
I am a ploughman and I plough my earth
I get my pay from the earth I serve
A little corn and a glass of wine
I want no more ’cause this life is fine

Is it really that different from the youthful rage of Going Underground??

Going Underground; The Jam (1979)
Some people might say my life is in a rut
But I’m quite happy with what I got
People might say that I should strive for more
But I’m so happy I can’t see the point

He’s never stuck in a rut. He’s happy with what he’s got. He’s not being reflective. He’s Paul Weller.”

Nigel Davies, PIN Creative

Grimes; Miss Anthropocene, 2020.

grimes-miss-anthropocene-2020“I loved Grimes’s early album Visions (2011) which was full of DIY bedroom electronica.

Two albums later, Grimes is in a relationship with Elon Musk and recently they had their first child, called by the slightly baffling name;

X Æ A-12

Whilst this should be irrelevant, it is difficult to separate her newfound celebrity status and child naming convention from the music.

Pitchfork described the album in three words; “negative, aggressive, and isolating.” Before expanding on the album’s themes; “convoluted narrative about personifying climate change through a fictional cosmology of demons and villainesses giddily celebrating global warming as a force of good.”

But I like it.

There may be a dystopian future where we all salute a ruler of the Universe (one of Musk and Grimes’ offspring) but I’d quite like this as the soundtrack.

There’s the driving electronica that got me first hooked on Ladytron.
A splash of the mysterious warbling from mid-period Bjork.
And a hint of the Hollywood glamour and storytelling more recently found in Lana Del Rey albums.

The translucent fluro pink vinyl is pretty cool too.”

Nigel Davies, PIN Creative

Join fellow agency leaders and the DBA team, fortnightly on Wednesdays at 9.30am

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DBA member catch-ups are a friendly forum, exclusively for owners and MDs. Whilst providing one another with practical tips and advice that help shape how we move forward in our discussions with colleagues and clients, these discussions play a vital role in informing how the DBA feeds back to government around the needs of the industry. 

Our sessions are held on Zoom and email invites are sent directly to agency leaders ahead of each catch up. Get in touch at enquiries@dba.org.uk with any questions.

Image credit:

Ian Schneider, Unsplash
Kraftwerk; Autobahn, 1974
Whiplash, original motion picture soundtrack, Justin Hurwitz, 2014
White Stripes; De Stijl, 2000
Paul Weller, On Sunset, 2020
Grimes; Miss Anthropocene, 2020
Chris Montgomery, Unsplash

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