Pete Fowler is an artist and musician, providing artwork for projects by Super Furry Animals, Gruff Rhys, The Horrors and Clinic and performing as one half of the duo, Seahawks. A landmark, homecoming exhibition, Oceans of Fantasy, will be staged at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff from 8 December 2012 – 24 February 2013. See for full details.
Ever since I first put pencil to paper and paint on canvas, music has always been an inspiration for my art, be it the sounds that have shaped my work to the LP covers I’ve created for artists like the Super Furry Animals. It’s tough to pinpoint an artist or genre that’s specifically influenced me, but as the years roll by, the instruments and machines that make the music that I love have started to feature prominently in my work.
It started through my interest in buying home made synths and effects units, as much for how they looked as how they sounded. This led me to experimenting with making my own music, soon realising that a lot of my favourite music contained synths and electronics of some description.
My ears have tingled at electronic sounds from a young age, after hearing Donna Summer‘s I Feel Love on the radio, whilst driving through the Pyrenees with my family. It was the first time I’d heard a 100 percent electronic piece of music and it stayed with me for some time. It wasn’t until years later that I realised how important this record was.
Synths seemed to link a lot of my favourite records, from the rich Moog underpinning The Beach Boy‘s Holland LP to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Vangelis and Tonto‘s Expanding Headband. Tonto in particular, in relation to my artwork, has been a huge influence in recent years. Not so much for the music but for the incredible T.O.N.T.O synth system that producers, Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff built.
Looking like something like an antique NASA control unit, built out of Moogs, ARP 2600’s and a Serge modular, amongst other wild and wonderful electronics. The photos of them at work on this beast looked like they were piloting their own craft, deep into unchartered areas of inner and outer space. I wanted to jump in and lose myself in the den of electronics housed in wooden cabinets, more than likely wearing a pair of corduroy trousers and facial hair.
I love the idea of getting lost in sound, and the enormity and complexity of the T.O.N.T.O ‘capsule’, (making Vangelis’ synths look like a Bontempi organ) steered my work into the realms of synthesized sounds and the minds that make them. I have this fantasy, of one day having two sheds linked together by a silver tunnel: one full of synths, and the other containing an art studio.
Right now, it seems logical for me to merge the two loves of my life, with many of my recent paintings and drawings including direct references to my musical fascinations. As for the future? Just look out for a hairy man, wearing paint splattered corduroy trousers and a patch cable hanging out of his pocket.
For more on Pete’s artwork and music head to Monsterism.net.