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Behind The Artworks: Before & Apace - The Denisovan (2021)


Devin: The cover painting was done by Saskatoon artist Varya Vinogradova. Bryce knew her and when he showed me some of her work, I was really impressed. She’s truly one of Saskatoon’s best hidden talents.

She was really wonderful to work with. We spoke with her about some of the themes on the album. She worked with the themes for a while and then showed us some early drafts – pencil sketches and colour palettes – and asked us for our feedback throughout the process.

She got to work and actually finished a first version that we didn’t end up using. While it was really cool and it had a lot of the elements we had discussed, it was quite a bit more abstract than we were expecting. Many of the elements were fairly subdued, obfuscated, veiled. We liked it a lot, but we felt that our “denisovan” needed to be featured more prominently on the cover. Varya was so awesome about it. She went back to work with our feedback.

After some time, Bryce popped over to my place with a huge cardboard envelope. I hadn’t spoken to either him nor Varya in some time, so I wasn’t expecting what he was about to show me. Without much forewarning, he produced the finished painting out of the cardboard envelope. I was blown away. I wasn’t prepared to be staring into the eyes of The Denisovan – this figure that would embody the music that had consumed me for over a decade. Varya had captured an expression and a posture of this character that portrayed so many feelings from the album. Anguish and wonder and chaos and beauty, all rolled into one image – and a touch of the Fibonacci spiral for good measure.
Needless to say, I was in love with it.

Bryce: The album art is an expression of the lyrical and musical themes. While the songs weren’t written with each other in mind, there's an undeniable arc to how they're sequenced. Devin’s ideas around the music were a springboard for the themes that I explore in the lyrics. Sometimes the lyrics could seem very disparate from the ideas that inspired the music, but they are very much linked together. The lyrics explore themes of agency, relationship, yearning, conflict, and consequence and the album art is a representation of those themes.

Once the music had been finished (recorded, mixed, mastered), I spoke with Varya about some of the themes on the album. I don't remember what I specifically told her - all I know is that she knocked it out of the park. If I think about any of the four tracks, the artwork seems to express it perfectly.

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