100 Fictional Records

#100DaysofFictionalRecords

Album Art (Illustration, Photography, and Layout)

100 album covers for 100 fictional bands.

In 2016, I embarked on a project that would lead me to design album art for a hundred invented—and inventive—bands.

All band names and song/album titles are made up. Any resemblance to real musicians, living or dead, is purely coincidental. 

27 of my favorite designs are collected below, interspersed with paragraphs from my rationale.

See the complete set of Fictional Records on Instagram.

001c001c

[01] The Knees - In The Street [Sounds Like: The Cold War Kids] The Knees began as a group of high school friends who learned to play guitar together. They pooled their allowances so they could rent a neighbourhood studio everyday for two hours after classes; this is where one of them decided to be a drummer. During the first summer break they took short courses on how to play their instruments. By their senior year, they were playing at school fairs all over the city. In the summer before university, one of their songs was played on indie rock radio. The rest, as they say, is history.

009-b009-b

[09] The Static Suns - Reality is Boring [Sounds Like: The Coral] The band is unapologetic for loving the cover of Iron and Wine’s The Shepherd’s Dog. They have a thing for limited color palettes, strong use of black, and singularly striking images. Also, dogs. At least three songs per record are devoted to dogs.

010010

[10] The Hiplings - Doubts and Dreams [Sounds Like: acoustic, folksy Yellowcard] You probably listened to The Hiplings when you were a teenager. You probably thought about someone to The Hiplings. You probably made out with someone to The Hiplings. Everyone did something dreamy to the music of The Hiplings. They become favorite memories. Doubts and Dreams is their debut release. The first track, Wishlist, features three acoustic guitars and a violin.

1111

[11] Wolf and Tea - Tiny Forests [Sounds Like: Conditions by The Temper Trap] Wolf and Tea was founded by Mara Matthew, a groupie who got tired of constantly worshipping her band of choice, Just Like Everyone Else. She turned out to be a brilliant composer. Applying everything she had observed from her once-favorite band, she created an original sound that charmed listeners with its light touch and depth of feeling.

021021

[21] The Consonants - Earth Calling [Sounds Like: Vertical Horizon, if they released an album in 2015Earth Calling was originally prepared for an Explicit Content rating—the band’s first. However, they decided at the last minute to remove all expletives from the recordings. “Our grandmas are still alive,” said bassist D.D., “and they’re our biggest fans. I would hate for any of them to hear us say _____, y’know?” “_____ yeah,” agrees Angela, lead guitar. “We _____-ing love them.” Consequently, the original cover of a naked woman covered in syrup was also scrapped for a tamer but no less meaningful visual.

027027

[27] 27 Days - The Gold Mountain [Sounds Like: M83] The follow-up to Go I Know Not Wither. (The title is from another folktale.) Both their albums have been Grammy-nominated. The band was very shy on the red carpet, but was phenomenal onstage.

028028

[28] The Authors - We Met on Paper [Sounds Like: The Drums] The Authors are a Brooklyn-based band of nerds who used to go to NYU but dropped out For The Music™. At some point they all became homeless so they decided to might as well go on tour. They’re only called “indie rock” because their music is weird and hard to describe. They have a devoted teen following. (Writeup by Dana Lee Delgado)

This is not design.

The 100 Fictional Records Project is not design, inasmuch as design means problem- solving. Rather, it is an exploration of graphic styles.

Contemporary trends commonly take what they can from design history. Thus, we have signages that speak in the language of American wood type, packaging inspired by the elaborate typography of the Victorian era, and interiors styled with the geometry of Art Deco. The 100 Fictional Records Project, in particular, borrows from the rich treasury of album cover design, a field that offers much flexibility in the way images fundamentally link to sound. Illustration, photography, and graphic design: all these can be found on a record sleeve, making it a perfect, changeable canvas.

032032

[31] Nasty! Nasty! - Self-titled album [Sounds Like: Phoenix with rap, Franz Ferdinand with a tropical vibe, Deep Purple with a reggae beat] Nasty! Nasty! has a mix of influences. They find it difficult to stick to a style because each genre has personal significance for them. For example: their lead guitarist was classically trained, while their bassist grew up in a reggae-playing family band. They don’t want to limit themselves. Experimentation is the name of the game. In short, they’re not sure who they are at the moment, but the music is certainly unforgettable.

045045

[45] The Santiagos - Ang Dami Kong Damdam [Sounds Like: The Itchyworms or Ciudad] The Santiagos are an OPM rock band made up of three brothers and one best friend (the drummer). “We care about emotional health,” says Santiago #1. Santiago #2 agrees: “That’s why we write about our feelings. Love isn’t always fun but if we can write about how hard loving is, then maybe someone will relate to it and feel better.” The title is a literal translation of I have so many feels.

046046

[46] Kontra - The Ones Below [Sounds Like: U2] Kontra inserts vague but profound messages in their music. They like to wear black vests, and they believe in the power of rock to promote peace on earth.

048048

[48] The Lesser-Known Heroes - Pocket Diary [Sounds Like: One Republic] The Lesser-Known Heroes started out sounding like Jimmy Eat World and by their fifth album sounded like One Republic. (doesn’t everything sound like one republic these days?) Pocket Diary was their debut album. Critics adored it and fans embraced its semi-autobiographical lyrics. It won a Grammy for Best Rock Album.

049049

[49] Nation States - Philosophical Transactions [Sounds Like: Kings of Leon meets Arcade FireNation States will make you want to walk around wearing headphones as you gaze at buildings, feel the bark of trees, and observe your surroundings. Their music is thoughtful and very indie with just a hint of nostalgia. Fame followed after one of their songs was used in a Gossip Girl episode.

052052

[52] Blue Dog - The Invisible Architecture of Energy [Sounds Like: Silversun Pickups, but with sadder vocals and more reverb] The record company isn’t sure if this cover is boring or compelling. The band thinks it’s great. They’re going through a minimalist phase. Their favorite word right now is subtle. The music’s really good, though. The record company gave it the thumbs up, then went out to buy more aspirin.

054054

[54] Estanislao - Duets [Sounds Like: Gilberto Gil] Estanislao is a Brazilian musician. He grew up in a favela, raised by a devoted, guitar-playing father. When he rose to stardom, he became the pride of his community. He never forgot his roots and even now continues to hold special concerts in the streets. Duets is pretty self-explanatory. He has recordings with locals as well as famous foreigners like Lady Gaga.

A daily exercise that took longer than expected.

I began this project as part of the 100-Day Challenge, an international event that anyone can participate in. It requires one to repeat an action for 100 days. I chose to tell the stories of 100 fictional bands by way of their album art.

I was unable to complete the project in 100 days. However, I was determined to finish it, and the project ended in January 2017.

058058

[58] Digital vs Analog - Paper People [Sounds Like: Techy Romantics, but loopier] Digital vs Analog are Audrey & Lemmings Velasquez, a Filipino married couple (they met at a rave). They play electronica and incorporate the following in their work: vintage game sounds, handmade noises, car horns, and effects made from their own voices. (Artwork by Janne Soriano)

061061

[61] Queen Porcupine - This is The Galaxy [Sounds Like: David Bowie meets Erykah BaduQueen Porcupine hails from New Orleans. Her myriad influences, inventive lyrics, and irresistible sense of fun make her music an instant hit. She likes to inhabit different personas. For her latest incarnation, she’s an alien from the NGC 6791 star cluster.

065065

[65] Upset - Still-life with Hipster [Sounds Like: Metronomy] Upset loves to play in dance halls and large stadiums. Their signature line is: “HELLO [MANILA]! WE ARE… UPSET.” *riff starts* They have one song with no bass on it just so the bassist can crowdsurf. He’s a nice guy. The fans consider him their patron saint, and to touch him is an honor.

072072

[72] Every Day A Saint - Sunset Boulevard [Sounds Like: Daft Punk] Despite the leak of its first single, Sunset Boulevard (2014) became a platinum hit. The constant airplay, the collaboration with rapper Kuya Kuys, and the single-handed propagation of the 80’s aesthetic heralded one thing: it was the summer of Every Day A Saint.

075075

[75] The Coconut Ministers - Big Dreams of World Domination [Sounds Like: Weezer] “Humans have always been fascinated, terrified, and appalled by the space that exists between oneself and everything else. When you look up at the sky, you realize your insignificance in the universe. The universe doesn’t need you. What more a tiny bird who dreams of world domination—how can he even begin to rule when he doesn’t even have opposable thumbs!?”  —Bassist Dave D. in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, September 2000 (Original photo by Darwin Empeño)

081-b081-b

[81] Simple Shapes - Kiss A Firefly [Sounds Like: Simple Plan + Yellowcard + Dashboard Confessional in one] Simple Shapes will remind you of when you were 18 and life was overwhelming but full of potential; when you thought you weren’t pretty or handsome but you still enjoyed yourself; when parents made no sense but then, you made no sense either; and when Love was the Only Thing That Mattered, but you managed to stress about it anyway.

084084

[84] Moeny - The Zoo [Sounds Like: Kendrick LamarMoeny is a Puerto Rican rapper based in New York. His poeticism shines in The Zoo, his second studio album. Complex lyrics combine with jazzy beats to tell the story of his neighbourhood’s struggles and dreams.

A form of storytelling.

The visuals always came first; the captions were simply added as an afterthought. Later, one-liners turned into paragraphs as contemplation of a fictional musician’s work led me to create fictional narratives, some inspired by the real world and current events. I discovered that if music can tell stories, so can music-related art.

085085

[85] Wallaby - self-titled album [Sounds Like: Two Door Cinema ClubWallaby is a band of Kiwis who’ve been friends since childhood. Their music is dance music for sad people—with accordions. This album’s lyrics are filled with strange words like afoofoo and abloobloo. “For this record, we invented our own language,” the band explains, “to express our current mindset. We know people will understand what we mean intuitively.” Pressed for details, Horace the drummer said, “for example, sztakyness is the feeling you get after watching La La Land, contrasted with the feeling you get after finding out they didn’t actually win the Oscars.”

087087

[87] Peter Lachrymose - There is No Girl [Sounds Like: a Bon Iver kind of guy] Peter plays the piano. He once thought life would get simpler, but it never did. This is his most popular album. His fans call themselves the LachryMice and they send him hugs everyday.

093-d093-d

[93] Evvolution - This Will Destroy Us [Sounds Like: Iggy Pop with a hint of 2016 EDM] Evvolution owns stocks, buys art, parties on his yacht, and flaunts his jetsetting lifestyle on social media. Rumor has it This Will Destroy Us is about a supermodel he once dated.

094094

[94] The Bowling Pins - SCHOOLS [Sounds Like: Bullet Dumas x4 members -20 years] The Bowling Pins are a Filipino band with folk influences. Cynthia Alexander showed up at one of their first gigs and heaped praises upon them, and they died. Like, totally. Just like that. They totally died. Totally died dead. They’re still quite young. College will be such an adventure. Nothing close to that gig, though. Still dying. Died. Dead.

098098

[98] Junta - Pangamba [Sounds Like: pre-2016 Gloc-9Junta is a rapper who tackles social issues. While competing in a rap battle in his early years, he met the veteran rapper Santo, who became his mentor. Thus began the powerhouse collective for conscious rap in the Philippines. Pangamba means “worry” or “anxiety”.

100100

[100] The End - Aide-Mémoire [Sounds Like: St. Vincent circa Strange Mercy days, but slightly louder] It’s the music you to listen to when you want to party. Alone. On earphones. In a comfy chair. With a cup of tea and a side dish of mellow melancholy.