Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Brian Cannon interview

 As Britpop shined its bright light in the 90's and England hit a cultural Renaissance through music, film and politics, no one came to capture the moments like Brian Cannon. Cannon, who photographed iconic album covers and sleeves for The Verve, Oasis, Groove Armada, Ash, Inspirational Carpets and many others, became the man with the "eye" for Britpop. His unique style of photography was like capturing the feeling of what it is like to be enhanced by heavy drugs and a state of euphoria.

This past year, Cannon had his work displayed at the British Music Experience at the O2 in London and was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Global Annual Design Awards this past November. Aside from his massive success as a music photographer, Cannon is also the owner of Microdot, a graphic design company that celebrated its 21 years in the business this past year.

We spoke with Cannon about his work and accolades, who he would still love to work with, and what he considers his favorite work. We also discussed his favorite music and seeing if there is any hope that Oasis or The Verve would ever reunite again...

Your iconic work will be featured as part of the British Music Experience at the O2, how excited and proud are you to have your work displayed?

I am honoured and flattered to have my work displayed alongside some of the all time greats, it really is a wonderful feeling to think people are interested in my creations.

Your company, Microdot has been going strong for 21 years now. How do you think you have managed to stay on top of your game and successful after all of these years?

The thing with me and Microdot is passion. I absolutely live for what I do and every job that leaves the studio is done to the absolute best of my ability, don’t forget, my name is on these works and some of them will be around forever so they have to be good. 

Back to the O2 exhibit, was it difficult picking certain works to showcase? Did you leave something out that you felt was important but could not feature?

Everything I wanted to include was in there more or less so I was very happy with the presentation.

Like Annie Leibovitz photographed American rock and roll of the 70’s, you made your mark on Britpop of the 90’s. What was it like to be apart of that now infamous and notorious era?

It was a riot, looking back I’m amazed we actually got any work done let alone the calibre of stuff we were turning out. For about 3 years in the mid 90’s it seemed like one long party. I lived in Noel Gallagher’s old flat in Camden Town, North West London – it was like being at the eye of the hurricane, it was fantastic.

Do you ever feel Britpop will ever make a big comeback, or was that just a moment in time?

Britpop was just a label made up by the music press, in reality there were very few bands who were any good and with the exception of Oasis and The Verve, none of them really had much to do with each other. If it does make a ‘comeback’ it’ll be just another invention of the media.

Of all the sleeves you have done, which is your favorite?

Easily Verve’s first album, A Storm In Heaven.

Of all of your photos which one was the hardest to create?

Putting a Rolls Royce in a swimming pool for Oasis Be Here Now was no easy feat I can tell you!

Oasis and The Verve were two band’s you spent the most time photographing for. How much to do you miss them?

It’s not a case of missing them, that was then and this is now, I’m obviously grateful for the exposure it gave my work, but you have to move on.

Richard Ashcroft & Brian Cannon

How did you first get introduced to those bands?

I met both Richard [Ashcroft] and Noel [Gallagher] purely by chance six years apart, Richard at a party and Noel in an elevator! They liked what I was doing visually and invited me to work with their respective bands. 

Who, of any bands of today would you like to work with?

Arctic Monkeys

Aside from the work that you have done, what is your favorite album sleeve that you wish you had done?

There’s two, Pink Floyd Ummagumma and Never Mind The Bollocks by the Sex Pistols

Many of your images have your signature trademark of an item or person coming at your right in the foreground and smaller decreasing images in the background. Almost like a fish-eye or extreme wide angle. Was this done on purpose to make your mark?

Now you mention it – it’s the first time I’ve actually noticed that!

Aside from photographing and working with musicians, Microdot has done various ad campaigns for major companies. Are those just as fun and creative?

On the whole no – you have to deal with a team of people all trying to have their say – creative decision by committee just doesn’t work

What is next for you?

All sorts going on at the minute, working with bands, doing some lecturing in Universities, lots of overseas clients, many in the US – exciting times.