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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Junkboy: Sovereign Sky – an interview with Rich Hanscomb

Singer songwriter Rich Hanscomb introduces his new album Sovereign Sky, recorded with his brother in Brighton, and featuring stunning artwork by Christopher Harrup and Claire Softley.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Junkboy Sovereign Sky cover
Rich Hanscomb of Junkboy introduces his new album Sovereign Sky, created in collaboration with his brother Mik on the south coast of England. Since 1999 they have been quietly experimenting with multiple genres, from analogue synth soundtracks to woozy post-rock and electronica and, more recently, a song based pastoraldelica. The result is an idiosyncratic album full of strange influences and loving detail. Here he introduces the album and describes the process of producing the beautiful album artwork.

Rich. One half of Junkboy
What are the major themes of Sovereign Sky?
I don’t think Mik and I discussed themes whilst we wrote the album I guess these things just grow organically. However, when we were sequencing the tracks we noticed that most of them reference nature and/or the elements! Tipping points in seasons – summer to autumn or early spring – and all the feelings they prompt. I guess we’re coming from that kind of place. We’re in our 30s now so it’s a record that is certainly reflective – but not nostalgic – and full of hope.


How have your seaside locations influenced your music?
Immensely I should imagine. From Southend on Sea to Brighton and Hove and wherever we drift to next…that exquisite melancholy of seaside towns suffuses our music. There’s a sadness to Brighton too. You have to live here a while to experience it.

Junkboy Three orginal photo for sleeve
What is it like to work so intimately with your brother?
It’s great! My best friend, creative partner, flesh and blood. I’m very lucky to be related to such a talented and extremely modest, unpretentious man. We’re very close, a bit telepathic perhaps. We’ve only recently stopped living in the same flat together. Over thirty years in all of sharing the same roof. No wonder people think we’re a bit odd.

Priory Park-junkboy
You’ve been making records together for well over a decade: what have you learnt over this period?
I’ve learnt that genuine independent labels and independent record shops still play an important part in opening ears to exciting new music. I love browsing, sampling and buying online from record shops like Piccadilly and Normans – proof that the internet is great for music. I’ve learnt to distrust anyone who says that the album as a valid format is dead and that Spotify is good. The album is king.


What were the highlights of producing this record?
There were many – hearing our friends Will and Becca play the cello and violin parts we wrote over the songs was pretty magical. Just hearing that blend was great. This is the first Junkboy album written and – cello and violin apart – performed by Mik and I so we’re really proud of that too.

Priory Park, junkboy
Your album artwork was produced by a couple of friends of yours – what was their brief and how did they come up with the final imagery?
We worked with a really good friend of ours, Christopher Harrup, who has contributed to Junkboy sleeve designs for as long as we’ve been lucky enough to release records.We sent him a copy of the album and started a conversation in Dropbox – uploading pieces of art and album sleeves that had influenced us or that Christopher thought the album evoked. Between us we had Richard Long, Kenzo Okado, Michael Andrew, the first Sam Prekop album and a load of sixties graphic design. And pictures of the sun. Christopher starting collaborating with his partner, Claire Softley, who is an illustrator too and they managed to create something really beautiful and rooted in our formative years. Christopher and Claire sought inspiration from the suburban roads where Mik and I used to live in our old family house on Fairfax Drive, a stone’s throw from Roots Hall where we watched Southend United play. When you put your trust in an old friend’s creative process they have those kind of things to draw from. Memory and experience. It renders the sleeve design so much more meaningful. Plus it looks totally cool.

The album Sovereign Sky by Junkboy is out on Enraptured Records in November.

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