From Bangkok, Thailand, Defying Decay is an alternative heavy metal band led by singer and multi-instrumentalist “Jay” Poom Euarchukiati. Aside from being a musician, Jay has also worked closely with film director Stuart Birchall, acting as the executive producer on Stuart’s award-winning short film, Apex (more info available here).
Some of the scenes from the film played a significant role in the artwork and music video behind Defying Decay’s music video for recent single “Judas Kiss.” The two work so well together that they are now collaborating on two more short films, Dominion and Holding Company, which are set for release this year. In our latest edition of the And Justice For Art series, UnCovered, we spoke with both Euarchukiati and Birchall about the creative process behind the creation of the “Judas Kiss” cover art and music video.
Commenting on the collaboration, Birchall said, “Jay and I share a passion and frustration for culture and find a unique productivity in the balance. We share a very similar attitude to art and the creative process, somewhere between anarchy and respect to great art, there is a desire to create more than simple entertainment, there has to be a challenge or it doesn’t inspire or feel like a worthwhile creative experience. If we are not striving to create something bold its hard to fully commit as artists.”
First off, please check out the music video for “Judas Kiss” right here!
What was the inspiration for the single’s cover artwork? Stuart Birchall: The cover art is developed directly from the film visuals, this layered graphic treatment represents the inception of alien mitosis as alien consciousness emerges from the cell. Loosely inspired by the Lifeforms album by the The Future Sound Of London. I love the retro 3D compositions and Photoshop work of those early graphic and visual artists like Aphex Twin & Chris Cunningham, FSOL. Orbital, etc, there was an unselfconscious honesty to visual art as digital technology first emerged out of the dance and rave scene.
Your new single cover for “Judas Kiss” is crazy-cool. Tell us about the artist and how you found him/her? Jay Euarchukiati: The artist’s name is Stuart T. Birchall, a multi-platform artist who has worked in the industry under various guises for almost 20 years. Know for his work as “Numinous Pictures” with bands like Bring Me The Horizon, Architects, Cradle Of Filth, Bullet For My Valentine, Young Guns, Enter Shikari, amongst other. I initially approached Stuart directly in 2016 after seeing Stuart’s work with some of my inspirations, especially after seeing the Architects’ “Alpha Omega” video, which remains a favorite of mine.
Please elaborate on the medium(s) used when creating the art. We’d love to know how the artwork was created. Birchall: With some mediums I tend to work in an unorthodox way, from paper to photos, scans and copies, always physical mediums first. The process is more about discovery and experimentation than a dependency on the plan, especially when it comes to static visuals. It is good to have a sketch of what you want but creativity is an energy and needs room to expand and explore. I draft a few core ideas and then experiment, sometimes the simple and obvious idea is the right one.
The band’s “Judas Kiss” single dropped on January 17th, 2019.
What were the partnership’s dynamics like? For example, was a specific look given, or did the artist have full free range? Euarchukiati: Stuart will always do what he wants to do creatively, we connected because he takes the same attitude to his work as I do to music production. Once we have lit an idea it is a matter of just allowing it to burn, bringing in suggestions and refinements as it develops. We seem to work best that way. We have achieved some fantastic results from early discussions by just watering them and letting them flourish organically. I wanted Defying Decay to stand out and not follow the traditional formats, so my creative relationship with Stuart is no exception here.
Would you consider the artist an additional band member, or someone contracted for just this piece? Euarchukiati: Stuart and I have been friends now since 2016 and he does feel like a band member sometimes! He often travels with the band, and works with us across all media, we have some very big film releases scheduled for later in the campaign. Stuart and I have been developing side projects and films alongside the work with Defying Decay also and share a love of anime and sci-fi...
Did Stuart hear the song beforehand? Or, what kind of input did you give him? Euarchukiati: The cover art was developing alongside the videos and album artwork, the final decision was made a few weeks before release from an archive of conceptual treatments for conceptual ideas Stuart has been developing for a while. Generally, Stuart and I would sit down and he would present ideas and together we would adapt and refine until I was happy with the selection.
Check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes images of the guys creating both the “Judas Kiss” artwork and video.
With the increasing popularity of digital music, most fans view artwork as just pixels on a screen. Why did you feel the artwork was important? Birchall and Euarchukiati: That is a sad reality, one that really is a shame for those of us who respect the creative arts, For the purists it’s important to buy the artwork in its whole form, as intended to be displayed, seen and heard, physical media, collectors items, limited prints are very important to us. Artist work has gradually been reduced to a practical application and convenience, to fit on a digital device, it hardly reflects the process that artists go through and the years of experience it takes to create interesting and original art.
Have any favourite music-related visual artists? Euarchukiati: I work with him (laughs). I am pretty sure Stuart would write you an essay on his influences but we certainly share influences from Aphex Twin, Chris Cunningham, NIN, Tool, amongst others.
What are your thoughts and/or the pros and cons about digital art versus non-digital? Birchall and Euarchukiati: Digital technology is just a tool, sadly these modern tools create very few masters, it creates slaves. Painting, sketching, sculpting, writing, playing music instruments all connect hand and brain with a physical medium, it’s primal and unfiltered and should be the bedrock of creativity, I will defend it till the end. Sadly, very few people know or care who creates the artwork, or even who directs the visuals anymore in the music industry. The crafts are reduced to apps and filters, each has its place as a tool, but when concepts and ideas have made way for hollow contemporary visual-stimulation, people are starved of substance, the sad thing is most people don’t know they are copying a copy. As Trent [Reznor] said, “everything is a copy of a copy of a copy” and the more something is copied the thinner and weaker it becomes as an art form.
"Ghost" is another recent video from Defying Decay.
Do you prefer having the most creative control when you get a project, or do you prefer when the band gives you a lot of input? Birchall: I work best when I have creative control, this means I work less of course as there is a lot of egos to get through in the music and film industry. Everyone has their idea on what they want but I work best without constraints. As artist, we are limited enough by time and money on every project these days so to then add additional constraints to the creative process is a mistake. Almost every artist I have worked with has begun the conversations with ideas and suggestion; most often themes or references and then I go back into my studio and begin my work.
Do you have a favorite album cover of all time? Euarchukiati: I am a huge fan of the Prodigy so anything by them is a favorite, also again artist like, Tool, Deftones and Aphex Twin.