The second half of 2016 closed with not one post from me! Auwe! Well it is not without good reason, I have been busy cranking away at completing a new recording project and I am happy to say it is completed and available for streaming on Spotify, Bandcamp, for download on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, or as a CD through my website. Now that the album is out for everyone to hear I want to just take some time to share about the meaning behind the songs and the album project as a whole. This will be a multi-part blog post in which I will write about the cover art for the album, each track, and a little about the production of the album. So let’s start with the cover art. Thanks for stopping by to read!
In working on this album I knew that I wanted to have a bird of some sort on the cover as the album art. Birds sing, I sing, it’s a perfect match! Really though, I just was really feeling the imagery of a bird throughout the writing and recording process. I was drawn to the idea of flying free, of jumping from tree to tree, singing to the air, floating through the sky and being lifted up by the lightness of the air. I had been messing around with some different designs but it wasn’t until I came across a beautifully written article in the Hana Hou magazine on a Hawaiian Airlines flight that I came across some photographs that spoke to me in a deep and personal way. The article was about the restoration of the native habitat for the Hawaiian ‘elepaio bird. The story about the survival of the ‘elepaio through all the changes to its environment and its ability to endure through these changes fit so well with the themes found in the music on the album. And one photograph in particular was so powerful with the ‘elepaio looking directly at you its tail in the air. simultaneously relaxing on a branch yet ready to spring into the air at any moment, this bird was so full of personality and movement. The picture jumped off the page looking surreal and animated but at the same time clearly and authentic.
I felt I just had to use this photograph, so I wrote the photographer and asked his permission to use this photograph. After inquiring through email with my request and respectfully asking for permission to use his photograph, the photographer Hayataro Sakitsu quickly responded with a yes and I was on my way! I found a font that felt poetic, classic and had movement and the cover was born. I’d really suggest you go to his Flikr page to see more of his amazing bird photography.
I wanted to keep the design simple as the music of the album is no frills acoustic folk and I wanted the design to match the feel of the album. Cropping the photo down to focus on the powerful image of this ‘elepaio bird allowed for the perfect amount of room on top for my name and the album title and the design came together seamlessly. I am really happy with how it came out and the coloring of the soft yellows and light sky blues really feel like a good aesthetic match to the relaxed feel of the songs.
Finally some other things about the ‘elepaio bird. In addition to being drawn to its strong personality and its character trait of resilience, I also found some other interesting things about it in doing some research. One was in this blog by the American Birding Association in which bird researcher Eric VanderWerf talks about their bold and curious nature as well as their role as the main song birds of the native forests. But also from this Hawaiian Voyaging Traditions website about the ‘elepaio being an incarnation of Lea, the Goddess of the canoe builders. All these factors together really helped secure the choice of using the ‘elepaio as the “mascot” for this album.