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DIRTYMIX 008 – Graham Wood

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Each week, one of our invited guest producers and dj’s will create an exclusive one hour continuous mix, giving them the chance to break genre barriers, and giving you an opportunity to explore a unique soundtrack.

This week we welcome a co-founder of the design agency Tomato – Graham Wood…

Tracklist:

01. Tim Buckley – Strange Feelin’
02. The Congos – Children Crying
03. Chris Farlowe – Out of Time
04. Prince Alla – Stone
05. Talk Talk – After the Flood
06. Prince Far I – Deck of Life
07. Bill Fay – Methane River
08. Steve Harley – Sebastian
09. Prince Far I – Negusa Nagast
10. Tim Hardi n – Andre Johray
11. Chris Bell – I Am The Cosmos
12. King Tubby meets Jacob Miller – 80 000 Dubs
13. King Biscuit Time – I Walk the Earth
14. Peyote – Alcatraz

About Graham Wood
Born in London in 1965. B.A. (Hons) St. Martins School of Art, graduated in 1990. M.A. St. Martins, graduated in 1991, also founded “TOMATO” with some graphic designers, artists and other. Art director/designer for Leagas Delaney Advertising for 1992-93. Clients have included Nike, Porsche, The Guardian, Seat, Adidas, MTV, Becks beer and so on. XYZ magazine awards for digital typography in 1993. Judge for design jury D&AD, U.K., in 1

As a founding member of Tomato, Graham Wood has been one of graphic design’s leading figures for more than a decade. Three months ago, however, he followed fellow Tomato member John Warwicker and Peter Saville as the latest big design name to begin working for an advertising agency.

Ostensibly, Wood has joined the design department at JWT New York as creative director, but his role has the potential to be far more wide-reaching. “We’re still discussing what my role is,” he says. “When [chief creative officer] Ty [Montague] asked me what I wanted to do, I said ‘just give me a desk and I’ll sit in a corner and make stuff’. I look at things and try to make them what I think is better, which could be just a matter of moving some type or could be about inverting the whole process – processes in large companies can become very prescribed and don’t have the chance to live. You can’t storyboard happy accidents.”

A refurb of the creative department at JWT so that everyone sits in one big open space is designed to encourage the kind of wide-ranging involvement that Wood hopes will allow him to help produce more interesting work across the whole agency. “We’re trying to avoid everything being so demarcated, to be open and have people talk to one another,” he says.

Unlike Warwicker, whose position at Grey London was always meant to be temporary, Wood has made a long-term commitment to JWT. He is no longer a part of Tomato. “I’d been with them since college – I hadn’t known anything else,” he says. Even though Wood moved to Sweden four years ago, he continued to work on Tomato projects, but no longer. “It just felt like time really,” he says of his decision to leave. “I had two options – either start my own studio or to go into something like this.”

Wood says he chose the latter because of the scale of the possibilities at such a large organisation. “Coming to NY is a big cultural leap but the job isn’t – I’ve been here before in various ways. The biggest leap is being in a different country with a different culture.”

One of his targets is to instill more self-confidence in the people at JWT – to encourage personal work which may then lead into client projects in the same way that Tomato works. “Agencies used to be about getting people in to do the work, there needs to be an inversion of that process,” he says. “There doesn’t seem to be any other plan than to make very interesting work both for oneself and for others.”

Graham Wood Interview by Yannick Joubert and Barbara Mertens

Y: Hello Graham and welcome to the Dirtyradio DirtyMix, please tell us a little bit about your song selection for your mix.

G: hello yannick and everyone and thankyou for having me. the songs are a bit glass/bottle/bottle/glass. a bit woo, a bit wahey, a little bit me, a little bit you. something for everyone for a sunny day when all you need is happy neighbours and a lovely campari and orange. you’ve done the dusting, your shoes are in alphabetical order and, just for brief moment, that feeling that they are coming for you recedes to a gentle neurosis rather than the usual full-blown paranoia.

Y: Tell us a little bit about your relationship to making video clip for band over the years.

its like the difference between a banana and a plantain. bananas make me uneasy but i don’t half love the glorious plantain.

Y: Any favorite piece of work? Most time consuming?

the live visuals (when i was doing them). both favorite (because it was so varied and rich and joyful as well as truly collaborative and ground breaking although i say so myself) and also most time consuming too (because ultimately it was the product of 6/7 years of work).

Y: What did you dream last night?

i can’t remember the details but i do remember it was like an epic action movie.

Y: How do you feel about the sky/space/stars?

disturbed.

Y: Do play music while working ?

mostly.

Y: How is the chemistry like while working with Underworld.

N2O

Y: Is there a theme to the mix ? I feel like it’s time I booked a vacation on the moon.

the theme is ‘i feel like it’s time i booked a vacation on the moon.’

Coffee, tea, juice or brains?

cigarettes.

Y: What does your perfect Sunday look like?

working backwards from evening-a good film or drama on the television with some trifle and extra custard (with real vanilla not vanilla ‘flavouring’ or ‘extract’ but proper from a vanilla pod) and perhaps also extra jelly. actually its easier to start with morning because i’m already confused trying to work this out . . . a nice lay in until about 9.30/10, breakfast with family somewhere lovely and if its sunny then ideally outside, perhaps a little wander for a bit, take the kids to the cinema, weekly shopping, probably a bit of a tidy up at home and a ponder on what to wear for monday so its all nicely planned, often cook something for early evening (particularly if friends are coming around), if friends don’t visit then its the first thing i wrote,and then all nicely tucked in bed with either a film on the laptop or something on the ipod (these days i often fall asleep listening to LSG/oliver lieb)

Y: Do you play an instrument?

yes but no.

Y: Do you have plans with full length film?

i would like to do that but i wonder . . .

Y: go you feel that design is kind of like cooking a meal ?

it depends.

Y: Night owl or early bird ?

neither.

Y: Any more book like Tycho’s Nova coming in the future ?

i hope so.

maybe not books though.

there’s a couple of things i’ve done since that havent come out (yet), other little thoughts. i’d like to do something with interactivity that was like that . . . the thing on the PSP WISP (the Miracles and Wonders thing) was an early go at that. i’d like to do much much more with that kind of thing. i deeply respect and admire how Jonathan Harris has really thought about narrative and interactivity. that’s truly impressive and beautiful. also Roy Ascott is an inspiration for this kind of potential work.