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Dave Nodz - The Flyer Artist - Interview 94

Taken from Atmosphere magazine #12 - March 1994

Dave Nodz, the graphic side of Suburban Base from day one and recently turned recording artist. The man behind many a striking sleeve and the aptly titled "Noise of Art"

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How long have you been into graffiti?
I think from about '84/'85 while still at school, when our generation were all getting into graf, electro, breaking. The good old days!.

What was it that inspired you?
I started reading comics since about the age of 10, and used to spend every spare moment drawing, and creating my own characters. Then the graffiti thing came along and I kind of merged the two together basically.

When did you start takin it seriously?
I suppose when I left school and thought there was money to be made from stuff I enjoyed doing, so I incorporated my style to my musical interests at the beginning of the "rave" as it were, around '89.

Did you go to college?
No, I applied to a few and got accepted but couldn't be bothered in the end. I was on YTS for a year doing various jobs in graphic design, advertising etc around the West End. The I started freelancing and shopping in Boogie Times et voila!.

Have you worked for anyone else?
Yes, I did a couple of flyers, logos and one-off labels for people that used to come into the shop.

How long have you been into the music scene?
Since about '84/'85 with Electro, Hip-Hop, then House and carried on from there.

What was your first track?
My first track was a technoish tune on "Sub Plates 2", which I did as an alternative to the rest of the EP.

Any plans for more tracks?
Well, I've got the remixes of "Rollin Deep" coming out soon and I've just remix for Smokey Joe's "Special Request". I'm also currently working on some tracks with D'Cruze.

What sort of style do you go by?
It really depends on the mood I'm in at the time.

Who are your inspirations?
I suppose you're inspired by the rate thing, really going out every week, but people I rate would be Danny Breaks, Andy C, Hype, people like Crystl, Foul Play I really like their sort of thing.

Any plans for the future as far as tracks are concerned?
I would like to do some more remixing work and just carry on making tunes basically.

What Dj's do you rate?
Randall, Hype, Grooverider, Brockie, Andy C, Micky Finn and Peshay. Lods really.

Boogie Times Tribe, Andy C, all the Plough crew and anyone who's bought the tune.

Article reproduced with permission of Blaze

Examination of Dave Nodz work

My contention is that all great music is is a manifestation of an exquisitely particular and finely honed cosmic vibration. It's the sound of people tuning into their own divinity. Music might be the most perfect vehicle for the transmission of that energy because there are fewer impediments to its inscription. Music isn't so constrained by mundane physical boundaries (though of course it tends to occupy our audible spectrum). However the antennae picking up those signals from the universal unconsciousness can just as easily manifest them in other media. Dave Nodz must have known this better than anyone cos as any fule no his recording moniker for Suburban Base, the label that sired most of these designs, was Noize of Art. Actually (cheekily) I wonder if he knew about The Art of Noise's own moniker's derivation in Luigi Russolo's Futurist manifestos?

Also impossible to ignore is the way that great music and great artwork are in harmony. You'll never see a great record that has a bad sleeve (though converesely there are plenty of bad records that have great sleeves, just clock Johnny Trunk's "The Sound Library"" book and you'll know what I mean immediately). Great musicians attract great artists like honey does flies. I suspect it's most usually a case of there being a socio-cultural milieu which is conducive to enlightened work in both fields.

I've often mentioned Dave Nodz here over the past three years, a Google search for his name actually brings up WOEBOT as the second entry (I always find that kinda depressing), but I've never done anything proper about him to pull in the strands. Picking through my collection last night I found eight of his stunning sleeve designs. Nodz ranks amongst the finest sleeve designers of all time. Within a "comic" vein he forms the holy trilogy with Pedro Bell and Limonious. More than the other two what's true in Nodz's case is that his sleeves are the precise visual counterpart to everything that was so awe-inspiring about an entire scene at its apogee: Hardcore and Jungle between 1992 and 1994.

Early work

I could have scanned the superb Discogs breakout for the Sub Base label and put all of these in chronological order, but truss that'd be really boring and a complete waste of time. If anyone wants to take me to task on chronology they can talk to my lawyers. It's more-or-less accurate here. I'd like to make perfectly clear that I don't own all of these records. Despite Dave's stellar artwork I've always hated "Hardcore will never die", and I sold my copy a long time ago. I also, less explicably, sold my copy of "Fires Burning", "Dancing People", "Flammable" and "Vertigo". Furthermore seeing as how my copies of Krome and Time's "This sound is for the underground", "The Trooper" and "Shot In the Dark" (which I would never part with) don't actually feature the cover art and are in simple generic Sub Base sleeves, then it's lucky the good people at Discogs have scanned in the cover art. Only the sleeve shots for "Hardcore will never die" didn't respond to Phtotoshop. Shame, really.

Nodz aesthetic is fully-formed straight out of the can. The confident line, the robust caricatures, the brazenly "graphic" design, the masterful grasp of the patina of light and dark. It's like Caravaggio innit. Nodz manages to at once be literal, the studies for the heads on the Krome and Time sleeve are very impressive, and visually inventive, the sleeve for Sonz of a loop da loop era's "Far Out" is a deliciously unfettered LSD fantasy. Dave's work shares with the early Hardcore releases their nutty DIY inventiveness and their untutored genius. Just like the technically constrained early releases, knocked out on on a cracked old copy of Cubase, still packing a punch by marshaling their own possibilities, all Dave has at his disposal is a pen, Photoshop, a black and white run-out...and plenty of raw talent.

Intermediate designs

Colour (money) creeping in but Nodz kinda struggling here in the middle period. I suppose in part because of things like former page 3 model DJ Rap's ambitions. Maybe with "Flammable" working to a brief and stretching out on the sleeve's reverse. Finally with the sleeve of "Flowers in the Garden" struggling with the absolutely appalling design this bloke called Lee Framer did for Danny Breakz. Danny must have liked this absolutely shit character, and poor Dave has to work with it. Were cross words spoken at the Boogie Times record shop in Romford? Because from this point onwards Dave seems to enjoy much more creative freedom and bigger budgets.

Purple patch

At the height of his formidable powers. Mirroring the label's unimpeachable output at this era. The use of colour breathtakingly vivid. I suppose there's always the visible influence of Jamie Hewlett and the graffiti artists favorite cartoonist Vaughn Bode of Deadbone fame, but there's an understanding of the iconic that surpasses either of those two I think. These are incredibly arresting images with the bite of a pitbull, once again perfectly in tune with the early Jungle of this era and leavening it's dread with sincere humour. There's a hint of sophistication to the D'Cruze sleeve which is echoed in the post Sub Base stuff. However I think the Kings of the Jungle sleeve, his last one for Suburban Base reveals a slightly casual approach. The way the same image is repeated for each three sleeves on a different background colour smacks of business as usual, perhaps even a twinge of boredom. That mirrors the fate of the label, which despite releases like Anything Test's "Pure", never quite reached the heady heights again. DJ Hype's "Roll Da Beats" was probably the last truly great Sub Base record. Wasn't Marvellous Caine's "Hitman" licensed off another label?

...Slight Return



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