Sandrow M - Prayervan EP

Sure, some consider record covers as art. And because it’s art, it’s a matter of personal interpretation. Having said that, we don’t think it’s too misguiding for your own analysis if we tell you a little bit about the story behind some of our covers. For this edition we spoke to artist Lars Laemmerzahl who designed the sleeve of our 14th release, Sandrow M’s ‘Prayervan EP’. We are all very happy with the result but as you can see in this interview there wasn’t only one idea. And because every artist needs inspiration we also talked to Sandrow to find out what he wanted to express with his tracks visually in the first place. Enjoy.

How did the cover come into being?

Stefan: Besides working on the tracks, it was also important for me to have a nice little picture on the record’s cover. Before thinking about it too much, somebody suggested with thumbs up that Lars Laemmerzahl could be a good choice. Before the label’s birth, Lars was a permanent member of the Moroders, taking care of all the visual aspects.

Moroders Work by Lars Laemmerzahl (click to enlarge)

What was your collaboration like?

Stefan: We’ve only met each other occasionally, so I was facing the task of explaining my wishes and ideas to a relatively unknown person. Because of distance und timing issues, we chose emailing as our communication of choice.
I thought the easiest way would be to send him some links with pictures that summarized my ideas of a possible cover. I didn’t know how he was working and whether he could realize the essence of my ideas. Despite everything, I am very satisfied with the result. My idea was to show that besides science and dogmatism and the resulting daily patterns of behavior, there can be an alternate perception of truthfulness.
The strict belief in a certain reality might give hope and security, which seems to be important to people. For me it’s different. I cannot relate to that. There is a certain magic in everyday life that doesn’t manifest in verbal concepts, an automatism that goes along with intuitive behaviour.

What was your main inspiration while creating the artwork? Stefan’s music or his ideas for visualisation? And how did that influence your work?

Lars: I guess you could say that the main inspiration behind the cover was Stefan’s music. I listened to his EP exhaustively during the design process, which resulted in a wobbly feeling of how the final artwork would best reflect his music and incorporate his interest in fringe sciences. I then presented a number of design solutions to Stefan and the Uncanny Valley heads (a jury more vicious than american pop idol I must add) and they narrowed it down to the final image.

Sketches (click to enlarge)

I can imagine that it wasn’t easy for Lars to dive into your ideas and come up with something appropriate. What happened then?

Stefan: Actually, the act of verbalizing something already distorts the basic message. So technically speaking I shouldn’t have said anything to Lars about the “Prayervan-Cover”. But I tried to give the paradox a logical superstructure.
So, I hoped that Lars could understand me a little bit. He replied with some great ideas! During the selection process it was also important for me to ask the UV guys for their opinion. Luckily, there was an agreement that it’s gotta be “the hand”.

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Sketches (click to enlarge)

Lars, can you tell us a little bit about the origins of “the hand”? What did you actually do?

Lars: I had earmarked a vintage photograph by by Russian danseur und choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky in one of my books that showed him dancing in an almost trance like state. Although the image was taken in the early 19th century, his posture and the expression on his face looked fairly similar to something you’d observe at Berghain on a Sunday morning. The most remarkable thing about the photo though, were the hands of Nijinsky, encapsulating so much emotion in a simple gesture. It was only when i showed the photo to Stefan that we realized it looked like a Mudra gesture and had multitude of meanings that worked well with the album concept. We then tried to replicate the image photographing my own hands. But I have fat fingers and therefore we stayed with the crop of the original photo.

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But why did you choose the hand and not something else?

Stefan: It was also important that the result should be “catchy“. Lars’ suggestion is highly distinctive. The upward reaching arm with the open hand symbolizes freedom. The picture has motion and shows a human being without handcuffs.
At another level it shows a so called Mudra. You’ll find Mudras in Buddhism and Hindusim. In Yoga and Indian dance traditions, those gestures represent and especially awaken certain energies. Symbols and rituals possess power. They can vitalize and brace one’s self. So it was obvious to use something similar for the B-side label. And we knew: We take the so called “Jnana Mudra” which represents a gate to spirituality and bliss. “Not so bad”, I thought, as we are living in a time with a lot of money driven, rather esoteric promises of happiness. At least I was a little pissed when I thought: “Calm down everyone! You don’t need this or that book. You don’t need this essence or that crystal either. Everything is right here, in your soul. There’s not only one truth. You can switch anytime. Try it! :)

As far as I know it was your first record cover, Lars? What are the difficulties compared to your regular work?

Lars: Not having any budget and living with the immediate rejection of some of my ideas. It was tough. I cried myself to sleep a couple of times.

Interview: Philipp Demankowski