Phrase — the anatomy of a record cover
Aussie rapper Phrase’s new album, Clockwork, is out now and features collaborations with a number of local musical luminaries, including Kram, Bliss N Eso, Wendy Matthews, Daniel Merriweather, and Jackson Jackson. The theme of the album revolves around the idea of change and challenge in a world of routine, rules, and the treadmill of life. And this is reflected in the album artwork with the booklet consisting of a narrative, using photos of Phrase in his business attire, but with a slightly sinister side. We asked him to give us the inside story on how the album artwork was put together: ‘When I had first finished the record, I wasn’t sure what I wanted for cover art but I knew I wanted something special and unique. I was walking down Smith Street in Collingwood, Melbourne, one afternoon and noticed an amazing photo in the window of a gallery, I was drawn in by this shot and went in to check out the exhibition. I was totally blown away and remember thinking that this was the photographer I needed to do my artwork’.
‘I got her card from the gallery and called her the following day. I told her how I had found her and said I would like to meet her. When I met Nicole Reed, I explained that I would love her to do the album work and that I was totally open to her coming up with the concept. I gave Nicole some tracks that I thought represented the key sounds and messages of the record.
‘From that, she came back to me with the idea of doing nine shots that tell a story that is forever like a cycle: blood on the hands gets worse in each shot and the unit and tie represent the nine to five grind and the pinch of the system. The photo story basically means that every day out there is a fight and I am constantly trying to be free of the system.
‘Once the photos were done, I asked Nicole to recommend a graphic artist, which is where Timba A from Wooden Toy magazine, came on board. I went through the same process with him, where I gave him the music to listen to and he came up with the idea of the whole 50s vibe and making the nine photos look like a comic book.
‘In the end, it all looked great, and I feel like I did a great job with the album and they put as much time and energy in to their artwork as I did. I love working with creative people and giving them my music to interpret and the space to do their own thing’.