We recently wrapped up London Design Festival at Sonos Studio, an event schedule packed with our friends from the creative world including Hole & Corner, It’s Nice That, PATTERNITY and MUBI.
Amongst those friends was rapper / art director Kieren Gallear AKA DELS, who spoke at our ‘Listening By Design’ event hosted by It’s Nice That. In his talk, he took us on a sonic journey through the listening habits of his day and discussed how the music inspires his creative output.
This week, DELS invited us into his North London home to show us how his two worlds as a both an art director and music artist merge and are influenced by what he listens to in his living space.
How much of your creative process starts at the home? Does that differ for art direction and music?
The nature of what I do creatively is so broad. I’m more inclined to come up with ideas for illustrations, screenplays and songs at home in my own space, than anywhere else. I can create my own worlds within these disciplines. I often draw inspiration from fantasy when working on illustrations and writing songs. There are parallels in terms of a creative mindset. It’s impulsive, instinctual, and very personal. At my desk in my bedroom, I often pin up reference imagery and my own ink drawings. Without them, the impulsive, creative bursts of energy wouldn’t happen. It feels like a form of escapism after a long day working on client based Art Direction projects or working at agencies.
When working on art direction projects, are their any rituals around listening to music that gets in you a creative mindset?
Before I start work, I usually begin with something really uptempo musically. That can range from energetic new hip hop records, Punk to new DJ mixes that I discover online. Before midday, I usually try to focus a little more and genres like Soul, Jazz, Afrobeat really help with that focus. I get lost in the rhythms. I can’t listen to hip hop when I’m actually designing because it puts me in an alternate mindset. Hearing rappers like Andre 3000 pulsate through the speakers gets me so excited and I suddenly get so eager to start writing down words.
In the evenings, when I’m just winding down from a long day, I have a playlist that has loads electronic ambient works on them. There’s something about the space and mood in this song Xtal by Apehex Twin that I find so therapeutic. Whenever I’m trying to relax, I often play this song. It’s because of this very song that I am writing film scripts in my spare time. Words and imagery just flow in my mind when I hear it.
Is there something about the relationship between space and sound and its ability to clear the the mind here?
It’s the cinematic feel and mood. The stripped back sound of this particular electronic playlist is soothing. I just get lost between the spaces between the individual sounds. I know it sounds weird, but sometimes music feels three dimensional to me and I feel like I’m manoeuvring between each individual sound and they are washing over me. That’s even without the influence of drugs. I know I sound like a nutcase, but it all makes perfect sense in my mind.
Your living space seems to define your creative state of mind now but what were your influences at home when you were growing up?
I was heavily influenced musically by my Mother and Father who both listened to a lot of forwarding thinking, bass driven, music. Dad leaned more towards early rave, Chicago-House, Jungle and my Mother was more into Soul, Reggae/Dancehall, Hip-Hop & contemporary R&B. Growing up in Suffolk, we didn’t have access to Galleries and stuff, so looking at the artwork on those vinyl record sleeves was my early introduction to the art world in a sense. Meticulously scanning the credits and studying the artists names that created those iconic artworks.
I’ve been revisiting these old Jungle mixes from the early 90’s in the morning all Summer this year. My father used to play them to me as he was a big raver back in the day. When I listen to them, I am instantly transported back to my old bedroom where I’d be reading comic books and sifting through those vacuum formed rave tape packs that my Dad picked up after each rave. I loved the dream-like imagery of those tape packs, juxtaposed with the DJ names emblazoned across the front in bold, cheap typography.