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Pinspiration No. 5 // Visualizing VALA, A New Music Project

Pinspiration No. 5 // Visualizing VALA, A New Music Project

Hello, there, kiddos. I have emerged from the washing machine that is my life to poke my head out and say, "Hi, blogfrans. I is alive, fret not." So nice to see you again.

I wanted to share some Pinspirational images with you, because I've collected a few that have my wheels turning right now, for a brand-new project called "VALA." (More on that later.)

As a graphic designer, it's pretty obvious why Pinterest is such a valuable tool. I save graphics, photos, color schemes, etc., and I come back to them later for inspiration. I also create secret boards for my clients that we use together to nail down the visual direction for the design. I use the best of those images to make a mood board -- a collection of pictures, fonts, and colors that will inform the direction of the project moving forward.

I make a lot of mood boards, you guys. I even make mood boards to help me redecorate my home. It's basically the adult version of that vision board you had in your bedroom growing up, with the ribbons and the tufting, you know? Only with fewer pictures of a shirtless Jonathan Taylor Thomas. 

But I think one way I use Pinterest that a lot of people find surprising is as inspiration for the design esthetic of a musical project. Since Pinterest is an almost entirely visual tool, my musician clients often come up empty when I ask them to gather a few pins that "look like how their music sounds." (Not necessarily design that *you like personally,* but design that represents *this musical creation specifically.*)

They look at me like I have seven heads, which I totally get -- I feel like I have seven heads a lot of the time. But, this is when being a musician *and* a designer feels most like a superpower. 

Take my newest music project, for example. The band is called VALA, and it consists of me and my two closest femme friends, Marie Hines and Kristen Rogers. (So, basically, it's a miracle that we've managed to write an entire record of songs together without getting too distracted by all the boxed wine in the world. But, I digress.)

VALA is going to be something really different for me as a musician. The sound is leaning in a more pop direction, with some 80's/90's hat-tips in the production. Kristen says "it's like Jack Garratt meets Walk The Moon." At least that's what we told our producer, Kyle Andrews. I wrote out this whole email describing the sound we were going for, in the most audio-friendly way I could, complete with reference tracks and lots of vivid adjectives.

And you know what he did that convinced me of his bad-assery? He asked us to send him some inspiration. Some *visual* inspiration. 

And I was like, "YES! THIS MAN UNDERSTANDS MY BRAIN!" 

I find that a lot of people are simply unable to make the connection from the auditory to the visual, and vice versa. I totally understand that. (Well... Actually, no, I don't really understand it at all, but I guess I can empathize.) For me, it's always the opposite problem. When I'm in the studio, I use visual terms to describe how I want things to sound. "Can it sound darker?" versus "I think it needs a subtle synth in a lower register," and "I just want this to sound like Greta Garbo looks," instead of "Let's throw some vintage strings on here" or whatever. (Producers loooove that.)

This "superpower" -- the ability to connect a visual image to a musical sound -- is what makes working on graphic design projects for musicians so exciting for me. When I hear a song, I immediately see the music video, and the album cover, and the wardrobe, and the fonts. It's just second-nature now, but it can totally be learned. (Post about that soon...?)

So, here are a few of the pins that are inspiring VALA right now, plus our finished mood board. The production will be mainly electronic/pop, which we're representing with minimalist design. The 80s and 90s touches are represented in the use of color, and possibly in our wardrobe choices. The band will have three female vocalists, and we're hoping to stack the vocals in a way that makes it sounds like one composite woman -- Vala, we'll fondly call her. Our combined alter-ego. That's represented in the composite photography. (We're thinking of splicing together three photos for the cover, instead of appearing side by side.) These images and the rest on our Pin board are going to be shaping the entire project going forward -- not just the design, but the production, too. 

I've been speaking a lot around town lately about how to brand your band, and I hope to write about that on the blog in the near future. But for now, here's a sneak peek at how VALA will look, and -- if you can imagine it -- how it will sound.


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