“Music is always present in our process, if it is not working directly for a music project, music is still present – consciously and unconsciously”, Jonathan Castro Alejos and Delphine Lejeune tell Collide24 about the many ways that music has influenced their work so far. As if to underline this statement, the duo has currently collaborated together on the sleeve and record design for the Dynamic Linker EP of Hamburg based artist Quadratschulz. The EP has been presented by Clone Records, a Rotterdam based record label. The versatile album showcases his broad range of influences all very firmly rooted in the 90’s rave. With its metallic silver sleeve and vinyl, the record looks as if it comes from a completely other world. By choosing abstract patterns and shapes on the center labels, Delphine and Jonathan aimed at creating an intriguing “oasis in a desert of shiny boredom”.
The journey to this oasis started with a few days of listening to the masters of Quadratschulz and delving themselves deeply into his music. “First, it is important to read the nature of the EP we will work on”, Delphine and Jonathan talk us through their process, “We just talk and listen to the music a lot. What is very important to us is giving space for intuition and fun while creating something that truly reflects the nature of the music avoiding the idea of infusing too much of ourselves in the outcome, I think it is very similar like when you play music with other people, you need to be fully present and play for what the music needs in the moment.” The idea for the abstract patterns comes from organic brick sculptures that Delphine was working on last year. By turning the digital back to soil, the sculptures can be seen as an interpretation of the involvement of man activity into the natural landscape.
Inspired by working on these sculptures, Delphine and Jonathan decided on an organic and nature related visuality, that worked perfectly with Quadratschulz’s music. “One side of the record presents the organic and smooth sensation of the tracks as patterns, almost like a dark matter or cells becoming one with each other”, Delphine and Jonathan explain, “On the other side, we aimed at creating something that could feel like a powerful living thing made of sound.” When creating the labels, the duo draw a lot of inspiration from the 90’s rave scene which has influenced Quadratschulz’s work immensely.
Delphine’s and Jonathan’s paths crossed in Lima, Perú, several years ago, when they were both working for the same design studio. “As a couple, we always have conversations and an eye on the work of each other, sharing thoughts and ideas during our own processes so it comes quite naturally when we feel our work can be bound together for specific projects”, the duo explains, “The turning point for both of us was to move to Europe a few years ago. The contrast with the Latin American culture and the European dynamic was the perfect mix to start digging into our personal creative practice.”
As manifested in her sculptures, Delphine’s practice often explores the relation between man-made activities versus nature and the mutation of crafts through material and social behaviors. Her work attempts to create a tactile and poetic visualization, blurring the lines between the digital and the physical, the past and the future. The graphic and product designer is currently studying at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, working on her graduation project around the mutation of popular crafts. Apart from that, she is currently interning at Odd Matter, a Rotterdam based design studio.
Immersing himself in the research of image and sound, Jonathan occupies a unique space in the graphic design sector. His research explores dark territories to move away from certainty and orient towards the unknown giving residence to matters, memories, speculation and deeper emotions for a possible re-orientation of the present. He is interested in the relationship and fusion of opposite techniques, materials, textures and softwares related to different contexts, reasons and times in order to build his own tools and languages of expression. As music has always played a huge role in his practice, he has currently started Confusion Unit, an independent DIY cassette label. The first release features “From Bow to Ear” of Maika Garnica, an immersive ritual performed during Sonic Acts festival 2020 at Stedelijk Museum.
For both of them, collaboration has always been a key element of their practice. “The encounter of different visions is the right way to push new possible scenarios to happen. Collaborating with people from other fields brings new possibilities and opens new spectrums”, the duo states. Looking into the future, there are definitely more collaborations to come, among them some spreads for the upcoming Lagon Revue publication. “Mixing graphic design and product design opens new possibilities for us”, Jonathan and Delphine tell us about their current work, “At the moment, we are working on transferring our graphic language into materials.” By combining their different skills and practices, the duo developed a unique visual language, an oasis in a desert of shiny boredom.