I think it’s safe to say that you’re a highly creative person; you’re an illustrator, photographer and make music both solo and in band, Albion Gold. What motivates you to do all that you do?
LAURA MARDON: I think it is fear of boredom mixed with the need to chase the ‘holy grail’ so to speak – What if there is something out there that is waiting for me, what if I miss out – If I continue to do as much as I can it eases this feeling.
I have always tried to adhere to a DIY ethos – I can do it myself and if I want to, I can do it all; write lyrics, create songs, record them, create the artwork, put the CDs out on your own label, book shows with people who feel and do the same, make zines & share ideas, it becomes all-encompassing and more than just music, its everything you want to achieve and live, so why wouldn’t you try.
Is art therapeutic for you?
LM: Always, drawing for me is a calming process, the way writing a song is the same as writing a journal entry, which essentially are all my songs are. I feel like it has always been that way for me. It was never something I set out to make money from, just something that worked for me through the years. It seems to clear my head whilst creating all these new thoughts and ideas all at the same time. I’m lost in my own head, in my own thoughts very easily.
From your experience as a Creative, what’s the best advice you could give us on how to come up with ideas, make new discoveries and in getting stuff done?
LM: Um, even though it’s really boring to me, learning how to get things print ready, and working how to use programs like Photoshop well was a big help for me in terms of getting more paid work. Small things like using guides and the pen tool effectively was a big help in getting things looking better for print and the web. Even though I love, and always have, much more fun and prefer using a scalpel and glue stick (DIY ‘til I die! And all that), it’s not right for everything. Be open minded in how you create, it will only ever let you create more. It doesn’t mean having to compromise who you are, how or what you create. Also, don’t be afraid to turn down work even when you’re starting out. I know you’re meant to take all the work you can but if you’re feeling like your compromising your work ethic or style. And take time to develop what you do. I was dead certain that what I was doing at university was it, that was how I created but looking back, it isn’t anything like how I work now. I’m still unorganized though. Be organized. Yeah, I think that’s it.
You’re originally from London and are now based on the Gold Coast, Australia. Coming from a place like London to the GC what were your first impressions of our music and arts community?
LM: I’ve only been here just over a year so I haven’t delved too deep into the Gold Coast’s creative pool so to speak but it’s um, different. I can’t compare it; it’d be like trying to comparing Gold Coast to Melbourne and then some. I was born and grew up in Camden Town so from as far back as I can remember I’ve been surrounded by creative, alternative lifestyles. With so much available to you in a city, I think, personally, it can be much easier to develop and become the person you want to be and who you are, but I’m saying that from a completely bias approach as that’s all I’ve ever known until now. Until I moved to the Gold Coast in 2011 central London is all I’d known and I rarely liked to leave it. I miss the access I had to big museums and galleries; I realize I took that for granted. The Victoria & Albert, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum, Portrait Gallery, places you’d walk by in everyday life, wonder into if you had an hour to waste, places that people travel half the world over to see on their holidays, places I took for granted.
The music scene is different here, but I like it. I’d say the sound is better in most venues I’ve been to here (and Brisbane), haha. It’s also nice to find a big punk and hardcore scene in Australia. I’m still finding my feet with it all, but I’m enjoying it.
There’s no zine distros or fairs or such on the Coast that I’ve found, but if anyone reading this knows otherwise let me know. Maybe we should do something about that, get something going.
I also want to start a craft/zine club. Something in a central to people, in a creative environment (coffee shop, creative space, etc), where people can get together make zine pages, draw, sew, chat away, anything you like, and be happy doing what they do but with other people. A collective of sorts.
What illustration projects are you currently working on?
LM: At the moment I’ve been working with the UK band Bleach Blood. Creating their EP artwork, logos, show posters, yeah it’s been a big project that I’ve had fun working on. Jamie is a very talented chap and he came to me with an idea so I went with it, and it worked out. It came about after creating some artwork for his other musical guise, Former Lovers.
I’ve also been working on a few smaller projects on a personal level, making postcards, a couple of tote bags and what not while I get designs ready for shirts, badges and other niceties that people might like and want on their persons or in their homes.
I also do all the design and artwork for Albion Gold (and Aunty Pat Records) so that keeps me busy. I think I’ve already designed the next two EP covers. Tomorrow I’m going to make some AG /posi patches, because everyone loves a patch, don’t they?
What’s one of your favourite illustrative pieces you’ve created? Why is it a favourite?
LM: I’d say the album work I’ve done is always nice to look back on because of its psychical nature and the thought that this CD/LP/7” is in other people’s homes like it is mine. I’ve always loved music artwork. Flipping through inlets and booklets of records that I’ve brought. For me, the artwork can make or break an album for me, it’s very important and creates the initial feeling of the album, the music and should be a visual representation of what the musicians sound.
Working for record labels and bands has always been the steepest learning curves for me and they always teach me a great deal and remind me that ‘simply illustrating or drawing’ sometimes isn’t enough. It reminds me that artwork can go beyond the sketchbook, beyond the photograph.
Who or what influences and inspires your illustration work? I’ve noticed a camera theme in some recent works you’ve posted.
LM: I have a definite soft spot for collecting cameras which has definitely developed and refined over the last 4 years into a nice variety of different cameras to play with. Photography is very a playful thing for me, I don’t take it seriously and that’s probably the reason I enjoy it as much as I do. It’s natural to pick up and learn techniques as you go but I’m not one to have gone out of my way to learn about light colour temperature or anything like that. Photography is an interest, a passion but certainly not my profession.
The camera based artwork sort of came about simply because it was raining and I can’t drive so I was indoors with a need to draw and time to pass. It turned out to be an enjoyable project and I made some merch out of it.
I like to read a lot, I try and read at least one book every 1-2 weeks – it keeps the mind active, constantly taking in words and worlds that it might otherwise not get the chance to process. Reading can be a holy grail sometimes. Is there another book out there that could create something more within me than this I’d hate to think that I’d missed out on some great idea or influential work just because I didn’t read a book.
I’m also big on TV series. I just finished watching Twin Peaks Season 2. Twin Peaks gave me a lot to think about that’s for sure.
What kinds of things do you like to photograph most? Is there a particular aesthetic that you aim for?
LM: Mostly I enjoy good colour and ‘happy accidents’ that come from old film, double exposures and slightly broken or unkempt cameras (which most of mine are) those pictures you couldn’t have even imagined or have preconceived. Like I said before, I don’t pretend to fully understand photography, the technical ins and outs but I know when it feels like a nice day to take a camera out and see what happens.
Where did your passion for photography come from?
LM: More recently I’ve enjoyed having a camera for the sheer ease of being able to create instantly, which can be extremely handy when you have a toddler running around. There’s no pens, paper, sitting down and taking my time with things. It’s simply point and shot and continue with doing what we were doing.
But it really came from having cool friends like Matthew Frame, Josh Thornton and James Chan amongst others who are very creative and always seemed to have a camera with them. I liked that and became both curious and intrigued about that instant documentation that happened around me.
I know you’re a big fan of zines like I am; what do you love most about them?
I find that there is such a great effervesce in zines. A zeal that is mostly missed in mainstream media and for me personally, it’s because I didn’t have to make a fanzine if I didn’t want to, the choice was mine to make because I thought it was and is worth the time to spend reviewing & interviewing bands, writing stories, comix & poetry, sharing recipes, DIY bike maintenance, discussion on social climate, sewing tips, whatever can be imagined, you can do it all and you don’t have to wait for, for it to happen from somebody else, you can make it happen.
You’ve created zines yourself, can you tell us about them?
LM: I started making zines, at some point in my mid-teens. Zines were (and are) exciting because you could make a whole magazine about whatever you wanted, as long or as short as you liked and it could look however you wanted. You could buy zines outside shows, at clubs and through friends of friends and they were amazing because they interviewed bands that the Melody Maker or the NME wouldn’t and these were people, just like me, interviewing some really influential people on my life and so it meant more and I thought, they’re doing it, so can I. A sort of positive peer pressure I guess.
The first interview I ever conducted was with the garage soul-punk band The Bellrays. I loved them. They recorded their music live in a garage or practice room and Lisa, the singer was one of the fiercest people I’d ever seen play. You know, I can’t even remember the name of my first zine. That’s a sort of sad realization I’ve just had.
Then for some reason, I sort forgot about zines for a while, but got back into it when I started at Art School. Mostly, from there on in my zines focused on what I was doing, so they were filled with stories, poetry, and drawings I’d been creating. Per-zines filled with satire would possibly be a close approximation of what they were. Pretend We Are Dead was a 3rd wave Emo parody zine mixed with art and then recent personal experiences.
An old band I was in back in the UK used to hand out zines (varying from 1-20 pages depending on how much we had to say) at shows and with demos. While I won’t argue that we were one of the worse live bands, I will always say that we stuck by our DIY ethos, haha. Then there was Throwing Up In Comic Sans which was a mostly submission based zine following the same sort of pattern, art, stories, poetry. That went for a few issues but after a while, especially while I was working in an office, drawing wasn’t my whole life any more so I started focusing on other things and it all sort of fizzled out.
I’ve actually started a new zine in the last week called Black Eyes/Sucker Punch zine (pictured above). It’s going to be handed out at Albion Gold shows and will be made by the four of us. I get nostalgic for the ‘old days’ and want other people to be as excited about finding zines at shows as I still get. Come to a show, you can have one.
I noticed on Albion Gold’s Facebook it says: Leave that misogynist cock rock bullshit at home, it don’t fly with us. What inspired you guys to write that?
LM: Punk shows, especially within hardcore, is still very much a boys club unfortunately. And I’m not saying it’s all black and white and that’s how it is for every show, of course it isn’t, but I just get tired of girls in bands being seen as some sort of novelty.
I’m bored of the close mindedness that still exists within what is meant to be a coming together of minds and thoughts of people who don’t want to conform to normality’s and a society constructed by those whose only interests are power, control and money. I know for the majority, I’m just preaching to the choir here, but I expect and have always thought the ‘punk scene’ to be the most open minded there is, because if it doesn’t welcome everyone who doesn’t fit or feel like they fit into what it deemed ‘normal’ or whatever, well, who the hell is it for? I’m probably ranting.
I saw Limp Wrist the other night (it was an amazing set) and during the set of a support band the singer shouted ‘fuck you faggot’ at an audience member. It was in a completely derogative tone, and a lame apology came in the form of ‘sorry, I forgot where I was.’ In my eyes, that’s not good enough, it doesn’t matter where you are, that is an unacceptable thing to say. I’m tired of people like that in my world and I don’t want to share the stage or my time with people like that.
Albion Gold played their first show recently; how’d it go down? Tell us about it.
LM: The gig went really well. I think so at least, and I know the rest of the band thinks so too. It was in a shed up in Southport, and I wasn’t too sure what to expect but it was a cool little venue and we had a ball.
Aside from two solo shows on the Coast my entire live performance experience comes from playing in London which has scaled from awesome squats, to zine fairs to very seedy pubs and yeah, well, everything in between so I really had no
It was Amy’s first ever live show so that made it even better getting to share that experience with her.
We have more shows for January and February 2013 on the Coast and Brisbane so everyone should come and have fun.
How is your solo music you create different from Albion Gold’s music?
LM: Well, firstly it’s a lot less noisy and abrupt. I’ve always felt quiet pent up about things and Albion Gold gives me the liberation of screaming. On the other hand it’s just as ‘therapeutic’ for me to sit down quietly and think out a lot of things on my mind over C, Am, G, F chords which is all my solo songs really are. I like the contrast between the two and it’s a great balance.
I’ve also got Point Danger which is a sort of happy medium, perhaps nearing the acoustic side more. It’s a standard guitar, bass, drums 3 piece thing and I play my electric which is fun. Lyrically I don’t think there is a difference at all, it just depends on what I think fits best where. Although saying that I think Albion Gold opens up some avenues that singing solo would not, dictation of words, shorter sentence structures and perhaps a slightly more broken down, simplified version of thoughts. I prefer playing music with friends and I lie what we do as a collective that goes beyond just making music. We create the artwork together, screen print, the way were record music, print and put the CDs together, create zines & patches, come up with ideas for band photos and take them all ourselves. Everything is ours and we have fun together. Working solo can get very insular.
What’s your been your favourite new music discovery of 2012?
LM: Well I’ve found a lot of Aussie Punk and Hardcore last year. Outright, I’ve not seen them live yet, but their 7” Dedication was a rad release. Um, yeah Last Chaos I saw live and they were rad. Um, Red Dons are awesome and I’ve pick up quite a bit of their music this year. Libyans are amazing. Smith Street Band who I ironically found out about whilst in the UK. The New Breed Tape Collection comp which is an old NYHC comp has some really good stuff on there that I’d never heard before and so that was a good listen. Joyce Manor have been a hit in the practice room this year. I loved listening to Union City Breath by Crazy Arm. That gets played every car journey. Part and Parcel by The Skints was released last year and I have a lot of time for that Album.
If you haven’t heard Apologies, I Have None, Sam Russo, Moral Dilemma or Bleach Blood, they’re all very cool and I highly recommend them. They’re all British bands I could listen to over and over again no matter what year it is.
Lastly, what dreams do you have for 2013?
LM: Hm, well my New Year’s resolution is to less self-deprecating. I want to try and stick by that. I guess I should flip it really, I want more PMA. That’d be the PMA way to think about things, right?! Yeah, I want PMA all day.
For more Laura Mardon.
*All art + photography by, and courtesy of, Laura Mardon.