Music of the Spheres

For their latest album, BIG TV, White Lies tell the story of a journey into the unknown. Fitting then that they’ve chosen Michael Kagan’s intense and mysterious painting, Pilot 2, for the cover. I spoke to drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown about what happens when you bring art and music together.

What drew you to Michael’s series of space paintings?

The paintings are brilliant in their depth: immediately arresting, yet full of human emotion and subtlety, like fleeting personal moments of a much bigger event. They create a memory of something that I was not even born during! You chose Pilot 2 for the album sleeve.

What made this painting stand out?

The spaceman in the image is staring out directly at you. There is a fearful and questioning look in his eyes and you want to know his story. We felt that Pilot 2 was the image that would best capture peoples’ imagination. I love the idea that a picture and an album of music that exist totally independently of each other can become entwined and linked over time in peoples’ minds. Maybe they will start transferring the stories of the album into an intergalactic setting, with Pilot 2 as the protagonist. Space feels to me like a representation of opportunity and an invitation for human courage and exploration.

How would you describe the paintings’ affinity to BIG TV and the sound of White Lies?

There’s a definite air of melancholy about the pictures that sits well with our music. The subject matter is on an epic scale, a word that has often—perhaps too often—been used when describing the music we make, while the personal element of the paintings is reflected in the narrative of BIG TV. The spacemen are embarking on a journey into the unknown, like the characters described throughout the album.

This interview was originally published in issue 17 of Oh Comely.