The New York-schooled DJ and producer, Novel Sound boss and Ostgut Ton associate picks out his five favourite sleeves, offering a candid look into the records that informed his taste, the hobbies of his youth and current cultural appreciations outside of music.
Catch Levon Vincent at Gottwood Festival (8th-11th June)
1. What was the first record you bought or listened to because of its record sleeve? What was special about it?
I liked Caberet Voltaire – The Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord a lot. That whole disruption neon style. The music was great too!
2. How important a role do record sleeves play when you’re buying records?
I appreciate the extra effort when the format compliments the music however, a bangin’ white label is a bangin’ white label.
3. Given your affinity to good record sleeves, how have you approached the artwork for your own releases? Any key principals or things you’ve kept in mind?
Thanks! I have discovered drawing only recently. I can’t spend all day inside in studios, I would get too lonely. So I try to spend at least an hour each day in a cafe somewhere, drawing, reading or people-watching. I have an exclusive printing technique alongside manufacturing partners at Brooklyn Phono. I can print from any paper source, and Novel Sound’s labels are from any xerox, magazine, card stock, whatever you want, you name it. So, we just use copies of pages from my sketch pad, we make ’em at Kinko’s etc…
Levon Vincent’s favourite record sleeves
In my humble opinion, Blue Note always gets first place in these type of Desert Island lists. Blue Note is the ultimate independent record label, and a good model to follow for any emerging label. Regarding their use of label artwork, any Blue Note release will have the attributes which make it so iconic – clean lines, smart typography and the use of compelling, intimate photos of the artists. Their use of photos uncannily convey the sense that the listener is the only person in the room who will witness the performance once they put that needle down.
Favourite track: John Coltrane – ‘Blue Train‘
Mantronix – Mantronix (Sleeping Bag Records, 1985)
This is a simple design, and it remains totally memorable! This was THE Skateboarding LP of NYC ’86 with me and my friends You heard it a lot… Downtown and in Jersey City too. I’ve had a copy of this record on the wall of every flat I’ve lived in for 20 years or so. One of my all time favourites.
Favourite track: ‘Bassline‘
New Order- Blue Monday (Factory, 1983)
This was a cool one because it was marketed in packaging as a big floppy-disc. This impacted me at the time, about how the format can communicate a message as well as the music; Because, as cool as the song Blue Monday was (and it WAS, assuredly), there was a statement about consumerism, technology and post-modernism in the packaging.
Favourite track: ‘The Beach‘
Ciccone Youth – The Whitey Album (Blast Fast, 1989)
This LP had pics of 80s Madonna as a new-waver in the Kamins Era. She was rad back then. I wish she would return to working with Jellybean.
Favourite track: ‘Into The Groovey‘
Newcleus – Space-Is-The-Place (Sunnyview, 1985)
Newcleus, alongside Streetwise and Tommy Boy records were my initial foray into DJ culture. I loved comic books as a kid too, so this LP artwork was just right for me.
Favourite track: ‘Jam On Revenge (The Wikki-Wikki Song)‘