There are two kinds of Gorillaz. There are the four animated musicians 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs, all animated by the artist Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl) and co-created by Damon Albarn. Then there are the dozens of real-life musicians that bring the music to life, and on the latest album, Plastic Beach, many talented, recognizable and upcoming artists will surprise you with their performances. I was so excited to hear contributions from Little Dragon and Mos Def. As a concept album, Plastic Beach is about an island of junk that has formed in the middle of the ocean. As mastermind Damon Albarn says, “The whole thing of Plastic Beach is that we are perilously close to just overload, generally, in the world.” It is on this island of our waste that the Gorillaz have built their home.
Get a tour of the Plastic Beach here:
Musically, this concept is realized through intricate layers of musical styles and sounds that overload your senses. Structurally, the songs are similar to the island they call home because the closer you look, the easier it is to see the random pieces that contribute to the whole, but sometimes it’s best not to listen too close, because you miss out on the whole. Likewise, the plastic material of the flotsam on which they live, parallels the heavy emphasis the musicians place on the artificial and the new. Genre, of course, becomes meaningless when you listen to a band like the Gorillaz that overtly tries to undermine the word, and the end result is a style that is colorful and unique.
Listen to the song “Stylo” below and check out the video, it’s pretty incredible!
Now that we know what the Plastic Beach looks like on the outside let’s see what’s going on inside this funky world. Looks like a party to me! This plastic world is filled with creatures from all walks of life just chilling out and enjoying the arts. The graffiti covers the stairs so even on your initial descent you become part of the whole. Just like the music, the space may be a bit of an overload, but each piece brings its own story and equal contribution.
In 2006, Jaime Hewlett of Gorillaz, won the Design Museum’s Designer of the Year award. He was honored for not only creating a personal mythology with the virtual band Gorillaz, but also for creating designs that are sure to shape the future. Of the artists and designers of our time I feel the work of Jaime Hayon is the most parallel to that of the Gorillaz’s Jamie Hewlett. In fact they may even be leading parallel lives! As a teenager, Jaime Hayon submerged himself in skateboard culture and graffiti art, the foundation of the detailed, bold-yet-whimsical imagery so imminent in his work today. Jaime’s work has gained him much recognition and most recently he was named Artist of the Year 2010 by French design tradeshow Maison & Objet. Jaime describes himself as an artist working in the design field and this shines through in every one of his innovative and inventive designs. His creations, as he puts it, will have you looking at things with a third eye. He often times questions what design actually is by pushing the boundaries of his materials. This same thought process goes for Jamie Hewlett who is known as a graphic art rebel, which is obvious in his creation of the Gorillaz, the anti-band. This Green Plastic Rocking Chicken is just one example of Jaime Hayon pushing theses boundaries.
Jaime Hayon’s favorite project is this installation Mediterranean Digital Baroque exhibit at the David Gill Gallery in London which was a true reflection of his inner world.
Now I am just waiting for collaboration between Jaime Hayon and Gorillaz’s Jamie Hewlett. I can’t even imagine what they might come up with!