Through the creation of art, whether visual or musical, there is the want and ability to preserve a single moment in time or culture. Many painters have works inspired by music, and many musicians have songs inspired by art. For indie rock band Lipstereo, it's more than a song, it's multiple bodies of work.
Mondrian, the leader of modern abstract art, was so inspired by the Boogie Woogie jazz movement, he even included the term in some of his paintings' titles. There are also many musicians and songwriters inspired by visual art. Consider ‘Mona Lisa’ by Nat King Cole, or more recently ‘What the Water Gave Me' by Florence and the Machine, from the Frida Kahlo painting by the same name.
And so we turn to a young Indie Rock Band from Melbourne, Australia, LIPSTEREO who are inspired to create not just a song, but groups of songs, inspired by a series of paintings.
Lipstereo’s Sam Stranges explains how the work of Thomas Cole is shaping the band’s musical strategy and releases.
Going into the studio, we were pretty open to recording a bunch of different tracks, whatever we were thinking that were sounding best on day one. By the middle of the recording sessions, we realized we had picked four songs that were thematically and sonically similar, so we started thinking about the songs as almost a concept EP. Fast forward a few months, and we decided to make this more concrete when we figured out what artwork would go with them.
While looking for artwork to tie the songs together, we found this old painting which at the time we just thought looked really cool. Soon though, we realized we had stumbled upon something really interesting in terms of telling a narrative story not only in a single release but, hopefully, over the course of a career.
The painting used is entitled “The Savage State”, which is the first of five paintings in a series called “The Course of Empire”, painted by Thomas Cole in the 1830s, which shows the rise and fall of a fictitious empire. “The Savage State” really fit the raw and grand aspirations we had when recording. I began to think that maybe I could contribute something artistically to this story that was started almost two centuries ago. We would do this by telling an accompanying story through music, that would conceptually mirror the themes of the paintings (as interpreted by us).
In terms of the logistics of getting the image, I was lucky enough to source and license a fantastic scan of the painting through the New-York Historical Society. Compared to some of the free scans available online, the NYHS scan really shows the vibrancy of the painting and highlights the “dawn” aspect of society in its infancy.
The band's debut EP titled "Modern Mythology" will be released internationally on 11 November 2022, as part one of a quintuple creative strategy.