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Dave Thomas Explores the Stories Behind Album Covers for Iconic Bands Like Mogwai, Frightened Rabbit, and More

Over the years, graphic designer and illustrator Dave Thomas, known by his moniker dlt, has crafted the visual essence of numerous notable bands in the alternative music scene. His work spans from the exhilarating cover designs for bands like Mogwai to the evocative artworks for The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit. Thomas shares his journey in visual storytelling, delving deep into the narrative and emotion of the albums he envelopes with his art.

His road into the music industry began post-university in Brighton, where his eagerness to intertwine his love for indie and punk music with his creative skills eventually landed him in the record shop where FatCat, an English indie label, had just repositioned. His fortuitous hire as an office junior led him to influential collaborations with artists such as Sigur Rós and múm.

After freelancing in 2005, Thomas continued his collaboration with FatCat and their associated acts. One hallmark project was Mogwai’s 2006 album Mr Beast, setting off many more engagements with the band. His versatility shone, from visualizing sound narratives for Agnes Obel to artistically depicting lyrical tales for David Karston Daniels.

Zoom meetings unearthed the stories behind numerous albums, candidly exploring his work from Giddy Motors’ acclaimed 2002 album Make It Pop to Mogwai’s As the Love Continues. Consistently, Thomas’s artistic philosophy is clear; his designs mainly serve the music while fully engaging his creativity. Analog techniques and tangible objects are often the starting points, later transformed into digital masterpieces.

For Thomas, every collaboration is a journey, whether he’s creating a physically distressed typography in Photoshop or tilting the perspective in a 3D modeling program. His approach reflects the albums he serves: imaginative, meticulously detailed, and deeply intertwined with the music’s soul.

With Frightened Rabbit, especially poignant was their connection over illustrated books, leading to a lyric book, The Work, posthumous to frontman Scott Hutchison. Integrating visuals to storytelling, he continued the band’s visual legacy through tangible memories and heartfelt lyrics.

We Were Promised Jetpacks rekindled their collaboration with Thomas for the latest LP after his iconic photography on their debut speaks to the lasting impact of his personal imagery.

Mogwai’s visual journey with Thomas reflects their sonic evolution. He speaks affectionately of crafting cover artworks like As the Love Continues, which hits different emotional chords and stands as a testament to the album’s success and the community around it.

This edited, condensed interview encapsulates Thomas’s deep connection and impact on music through his enduring visual translations.

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