“ONE FOR MY BABY” & THE JUKEBOX DYSTOPIA

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Here's an illustration I've been chipping away at on my iPad, and a few words on what was behind its inspiration.

 

Ever since I saw Blade Runner 2049 a month ago, I've been haunted in a most magical way by that inimitable version of "One For My Baby" by Frank Sinatra, which Officer K wearily absorbs after dropping that nickel in the hologram jukebox in Act III of the film. That scene gave the song a new context for me, and set me on a whirling musical thought-pattern that I've not been able to stop visiting since. I have repeatedly pulled out my copy of "Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely" late at night to further saturate my mind with the song's blue magic.

 

My obsession with it has had me searching Spotify high and low for other golden-era recordings that could pair with it, extend the sense of woozy, smoky reverie and form a family of parlour songs that could give me more of whatever was going on in that scene. I needed more! In finding some other classics (all well-known standards) I've been able to hear them with fresh ears and I've been reminded of the power of the popular song from that era. Vangelis had a go at creating his own version of this artform with the willowy "One More Kiss, Dear" in the original 1982 Blade Runner.

 

I've always loved "One For My Baby" (what an album-closer), but what is it about its use in Blade Runner 2049 that has beguiled me so?

 

I think I've worked it out.

 

There is something that happens when you place a recording like that into a desperately dystopic future environment. Maybe it's the intimacy created by something so romantic happening in the midst of an apocalypse. Hearing the optimism in the golden-era parlour ballad echoing through an orange-and-steel lens, the undeniable bleakness of the future, it's almost as though the singer (in this case, Frankie) can sense the coming of the end of the Dream. Frank knows the timelessness of the message in "One For My Baby"; the utopian smoke-screen heartbreak dream he's selling will resonate for ever. And all that will be left after "the blackout", if there's any technology to play it on, is this eternal recording.

 

My friend David Ritchie once told me when we were discussing my fascination with Blade Runner, "you know why young people are drawn to the romance of the dystopia? It's because they can see it now. Almost grasp it. Makes one feel more human, somehow." I miss my talks with David. He was kind of an uncle-figure, a muse to me.

 

And so here is Frank Sinatra singing to only the lonely replicant in an abandoned Casino in Vegas...

 

"We're drinking, my friend, to the end of a brief episode..."

 

It's perfection.

 

I have found a few other American classics that give me the same sense of magical melancholy and eerie comfort. They are:

 

EVERYTIME WE SAY GOODBYE - Julie London (interestingly, an instrumental version of this was used in “The Hood Maker”, the first episode of Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams):

 https://youtu.be/p0NXNJbH5yo

IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING - Frank Sinatra:

 https://youtu.be/MiPUv4kXzvw

IT'S A QUIET THING - Andy Williams (no album release it seems, only an old TV performance  on YouTube - thanks Liam Judson):

 https://youtu.be/JkauXbFD60M

MOMENTS LIKE THIS - Julie London (again):

 https://youtu.be/a8QS9hVdCcU

and of course, ONE FOR MY BABY:

https://youtu.be/3jHr5JbTeRY

 

I'd encourage you to listen to these. They are the songs that will keep us company in the apocalypse.

 

This whole rumination has been a lot of fun, and made me think again of how magical records are - the timeless preservation of human moments, musical expressions as a kind of footprint. And it's reminded me how much I miss making them. I can't wait to make more music in 2018, and get back to this long-term composing and illustrating project that I promised David Ritchie I would complete.

 

One More For The Road.

 

X AR

 

Blade Runner 2049: Talenthouse Entry

Last month I created this piece for a great art competition, a creative invite from Talenthouse where artists were invited to create art inspired by Blade Runner 2049, before the film’s release on 6 October 2017. The competition was judged by Ridley Scott and five lucky (read: talented) artists were selected for the most outstanding pieces. 

I didn’t make the top 5 - there were many many incredible artworks and you can check hem out here:

 https://www.talenthouse.com/i/create-artwork-for-blade-runner-2049-and-warner-bros/submissions

I really enjoyed this very challenging opportunity and I’m proud of my final piece, which you can see here.  

I made pencil drawings of various characters and environments from the film as well as scanned watercolour textures and photoshop painting for the final rendering of the colour and details. You can also see a few of my work-in-progress sketches below.

Thanks to Talenthouse, Warner Bros and Ridley Scott for this exciting challenge. Can’t wait to see the film tonight! 

x AR

 

“Cinerama 2049” 

“Cinerama 2049” 

The finished piece. 

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Niander Wallace sketch

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Officer K sketch

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Deckard sketch

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LUV sketch

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Assemblage of watercolour scraps

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One of the mini digital paintings for the vignettes  

The Dead City Lullabies - cover idea...

Today I thought I'd post something of a teaser, being a draft jacket cover for the graphic novel I'm working on called The Dead City Lullabies.

This is the first finished artwork I've made with the Procreate app. I drew it with a simple jot stylus on my iPad - Pretty happy with the final result.

It's a story about an ambiguously immortal man who lives through the various stages of an alternate Earth and his transitions between the fall and rise of civilizations as the Earth changes.

This is our protagonist, and I think the graphic sets the tone well for this project I've been slowly working on for years now. 

I'll be posting more artwork and information as it comes to life - I'm also working on a companion score album to go with it. So here we are!

Aidan

 

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The Argyle Courtyard, The Rocks

 

Here is a speed-sketch I did with a marker and a Japanese brush pen. It was raining and I only had a couple of minutes so it's rough as guts but I quite like it.

I have been messing around with trying as few pen-strokes as possible to construct a drawing - this one ended up being three strokes in total - you can try and trace them with your eyes if you like - then I used a bit of the rainwater and smeared some ink in and around the lines.  Going to try some more of these and see how the results evolve! 

Aidan 20/3/15

The Argyle Courtyard, The Rocks, 20/3/15

The Argyle Courtyard, The Rocks, 20/3/15