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Sunday, May 19, 2024

An interview with Clean Feed's Travassos

To wrap up our celebration of Clean Feed, we reached out to Travassos, designer of Clean Feed's covers, curator of sister label Shhpuma, and electronic musician to tell us about his work and influences. Album cover images were drawn from the rich collection on Shhpuma's Bandcamp site. Throughout the week's celebration of Clean Feed, many other of Travassos' designs have been featured.

Photo by Petra Cvelbar

FJB: What is your greatest joy in improvised music?

T: My greatest joy it's breathing the feeling of freedom. No other form of music has the same open field as improvisation. It's an art of expression, an art of listening, of concentration, of imagination and instinct, of sharing the right amount of energy. It's not for everyone. It requires a lot of expertise and mastery. That's probably why my favourite improvised projects are the working bands, the ones that continuously explore the possibilities and know their partners from the heart.

Even so it's a very established form of making music with lots of vices and repetition of the same methods over and over. Reinvention is always urgent.

What do you look/listen for when you choose what releases on Shhpuma?

Shhpuma was born with the intent to release music without a fit on Clean Feed. In the beginning we were interested in releasing more marginally related jazz music. Rapidly, we changed that pathway and  started to accept all the music as long as we believed it was worth it.

What I look at when listening to a new proposal is to be fascinated with music more out of the box, different, inventive and original. Sometimes I listen to a record more than 20 times to make sure it´s the right one.

I'm really proud of Shhpuma´s late release: Caveira - Ficar Vivo, it's a blast.

What quality of the music for which you design covers influences your aesthetical choices the most?

If I genuinely like the music presumably, I will feel an extra excitement. But I consistently try to be a professional and take the most satisfaction from each design.

Which historical designer or label's design do you admire the most?

Blue Note and covers by Mati Klarweinis are an inescapable reference. Recently, I've liked Rune Grammofon and Astral Spirits. Anyway, I never felt directly influenced by any, I'm rather interested in following my own path.

If you could redesign any historical album's design, what would it be?

I don't have that dream. Those covers will always be related to that specific record. Bad covers in Jazz are, unfortunately, abundant compared with other genres. Mostly a consequence of precarious low budgets and some scarcity of visual culture. So I wouldn't know where to start. In the end I just hope to give my contribution to improve the overall scenario.

What would you still like to achieve design-wise in your life?

I would wish to continue to impress myself and to keep pushing boundaries like an endless search - fighting to not fall in the easy ways of doing it. Discipline, abstraction and love are necessary.

Are you interested in popular music and - if yes - what music/artist do you particularly like?

Off courseI love all the music. Pop music is an inevitable reference to all of us. Recently, I've been curating playlists of pop music for my daughters and it has been a great joy. Just to name a few: The Doors, Queen, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Rolling Stones, PortisheadTalking Heads, B52, Prince, The Clash, Radiohead, The Cure, Joy Division...this list is endless.

I confess that I don't pay much attention to pop music these days. But I do like the Idles and Marina Herlop very much.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I could be less anxious. I´m working on that every day.

Which of your album designs are you most proud of?

I have now made almost 800 covers, it's difficult to choose. I'm proud of the majority of them.

Once an album with your design is released, do you revisit it? And how often?

I always love to feel in my hands the printed outcome of a design, and make a complete analysis of the final result. I revisit them predominantly if the music interests me.

Which album (from any musician) have you listened to the most in your life?

I'm not the kind of person fixed in certain albums. Although I can say that the artist that I have listened to the most in my entire life is Monk. I never get tired of it. But also Sun Ra, Morton Feldman, Pharoah Sanders, The Stooges, Suicide or Oren Ambarchi, among many others.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I'm constantly listening to music all day. I'm completely addicted.

Besides all the stuff from Clean Feed and Shhpuma, here is a list of things that I've listened more than once in the last month: The Vampires' Sound Incorporation - Psychedelic Dance Party, Darius Jones - fLuXkit Vancouver, Zoviet France (Several), Terry Callier - What Color Is Love, Oren Ambarchi - Sagittarian Domain, Chat Pile - God's Country, Philip Jeck & Chris Watson - Oxmardyke, Hotel Spojár
 - Škvíry & Spoje, Emily Robb - If I Am Misery Then Give Me Affection, Angelika Niescier/Tomeka Reid/ Savannah Harris - Beyond Dragons, Steven Stapleton & David Tibet - The Dead Side Of The Moon, Xenakis - Persepolis, Éliane Radigue - L'Île Re-Sonante.

What artist outside music inspires you?

I don't have any special artists. I like to be influenced by everything. The sum of all the small parts contributes to form us as an entity and human being.