Since Yak’s inception their releases have been accompanied by jaw dropping artwork. Each sleeve is a perfect representation of the bands layered, imposing and developed sound, possible as a result of a friendship between lead-singer Oli Burslem and artist Nick Waplington.
The pair met when Oli moved to London, "I moved to east London from Wolverhampton and I initially started buying and selling antiques. I was often boozing around the East End and met Nick in the pub” he says. “This was before the band but he was already helping us out a lot, he became a good friend really, I see him all the time. He’s even housed me at points! He’s brought me food when I’ve been really down on my luck, he’s a great friend.” Working together on their releases was an uninhibited decision. “We’d speak about music and art consistently. Eventually once I got a band together I mustered up the courage to ask him to do the artwork, when he graciously said yes it was a dream really.”
Nick Waplington is an artist primarily known for his photography work which was the original intent for Yak’s artwork. “Initially Oli wanted me to take photographs of unusual friends of theirs, an old dude who used be Jimmy Page’s guitar tech in the 70s” says Nick. “We did the pictures and I decided to draw some sort of logo for the centre of the disk. In the end, the drawings turned out to be really good so I suggested we go in that direction. As things continued Oli would come to my studio and see paintings, or actually he often saw them on Instagram – because I’d been living in California – and would say ‘Can we use that one, can we use this one?’”
The paintings showcased on Yak’s releases were already completed works with sections chosen to fit the sleeve in question. Nick’s paintings themselves are a body of work, which he tells me “dealing with, very roughly, an autobiographical look at my life and times in Los Angeles. I’ve spent a lot of my life there, so there are psycho-geographical references to the city.” It was the running DIY theme to Nick’s paintings, as well as his record collection that interested Oli. “He brought me through his massive record collection, with references to DIY culture from when he was growing up in the late ’70s and through the ’80s. I’m a massive Fall fan so going round his house and seeing all the covers of that nature was very important, I suppose that’s what he taught me.”
Among other sleeves, which are often digitally designed, Yak’s artworks display courage in embracing imperfections, as Nick and Oli don’t over think the process. It’s a natural partnership of two people discussing their interests, helping each other out, creating great artwork and music instantaneously.
Yak will release another single accompanied by Nick’s artwork later this year, and a show of Nick’s paintings will open at Whitechapel Art Gallery next spring.
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