Following previous features on designers working in music business, such as Machine, Ian Johnson or Mat Design, the guys of Jutojo were on my list for a while already. The trio of Berliner based designers is probably best known for their work with Jazzanova and Sonar Kollektiv, for whom they produced countless record artworks, but also visuals for their clubnights.
Below you browse through a selection of their work, primarily their history of record covers, and read a little interview.
Can you please introduce Jutojo to us?
Jutojo are Julie Gayard, Toby Cornish and Johannes Braun, three cousins – two of them studied graphic design in London and one architecture in Berlin.
They formed the studio Jutojo when they started working for Jazzanova and their label Sonar Kollektiv in 2001, designing their record sleeves and doing the visuals for their weekly clubnight in Berlin.
When it comes to your influences, what are they and was there a common factor that helped you get together?
I think a lot of our first abstract film work for clubs came out of seeing Hans Richter films from the 1920s in which he filmed flat black and white shapes moving back and forth in space, created with simple means that gave the illusion of space and a sense of rhythm. Graphically we also like things produced with simple means: making objects, projecting onto them with light or a 35mm slide image and re-photographing them. Creating things in space and then moving a camera around an object, to find the best view, comes more out of curiosity rather than in reference to any particular graphic designer. Although we do like the work of Julian House/Intro for Stereolab and Broadcast, early Peter Saville Factory stuff and the way Saul Bass worked.
How do you work together? Does everybody have their own projects or do you work as a team?
Since our field of work is comprising print as well as film/projections, we tend to divide the areas between ourselves: Julie is responsible for the printed matters and Toby and Johannes for the projections and films, and making animations for video installations.
What makes Jutojo tick, the things you have in common or the differences?
We share an interest in creating visual products printed or filmed that use techniques where visual effects are often created through a physical process in a real space and where the computer is just a tool to finish the product off and make it reproducible. Be it photographing objects distorted by water, a typeface as a sculptural object or confetti on a scanner.
Before I came across your new website, I knew you primarily through your work for Sonar Kollektiv. Do you remember how that happened?
It was the starting point for us. Julie had just come back from studying in London and Alex Barck from Jazzanova, whom she knew, asked her to design the sleeves for their new label Sonar Kollektiv. It quickly went on to take it into the clubnights, since Berlin’s clubscene at that time was experimenting with club visuals a lot. It gave us the opportunity to try out various things and find a common language between print and projection.
Designing countless covers for the label, how did that usually work? How much were the musicians involved?
In general, the label heads Jazzanova had trust in our style and were quite open to anything. Most of the time the music was club orientated and concentrated on a singer, so it could be quite abstract. Sometimes the artist/musician would have an idea or photograph that we should work with. They only got really involved when the album was for a singer: then the marketing and distribution departments took over and argued that the singer “has to be on the cover” in a certain style to be clearly marketed. But we only did 3 or 4 of those.
I think the Jazzanova logo deserves special mentioning. Can you recreate the process of how that came about?
Jazzanova wanted a flexible logo, that could be used in any medium and that could change but still be recognizable as such. Inspired by tubular furniture, we created an alphabet made out of bent wire, so that it becomes 3-dimensional and can be photographed, filmed, hung… We first used them for the Jazzanova album cover, and also filmed and animated them for their clubgigs. A Japanese designer made a version of it in japanese letters for their Japan Tour and for t-shirts.
Is there something like an all-time favourite among your work for Sonar Kollektiv?
The Off Limits 2 series of 12 inches with confetti
You also did visuals for some of the Jazzanova parties at WMF. What do you (dis)like about the medium?
The initial buzz with club visuals came by making moving images with quite primitive means in a low-tech way in our bedrooms and then showing them in a space full of people and seeing how the visuals fitted to the music and could effect the atmosphere of a room. Our first loops were things like a growing and shrinking red dot or a pulsating, slightly out of focus white line made by zooming in and out of a neon light in a subway with a super 8 camera on “auto-b”. After a few years we realised that although we got some positive feedback and invitations to big music festivals around Europe and even Japan and USA, the club was not really the place where an audience really follows the visuals – also, the club music often didn’t have a lot to do with the content of our images. We were always trying to follow and react to the music but not the other way round. Just now we have performed a new piece called “Staub” with Phillip Sollmann aka Efdemin where sound and image are generated at the same time and interact more with each other.
You can find a lot more of Jutojo’s work on their website and of course the Sonar Kollektiv release page. I also want to point out the possibility to buy the font resulting from the Jazzanova logo design and their Vimeo page.