Zorch – Demo Album Cover Art (w/ Band Interview)

“Our overall album art concept is simple ~ each individual album has different art that’s unique and only YOU have it. So if we’ve given out thousands of these things, then that means we’ve made over 1000 different art pieces, and those different people are the owners of that.” – Sam Chown

Austin-based band Zorch describe how hand-made album cover art — the products of spraypaint parties with friends — can become one-of-a-kind products worthy of your attention and ownership.

Sam Chown: The philosophy/theme was, “Let’s do art where many people are involved and see what we come up with.” We’d throw spraypaint parties and our friends would come over, bring beer, and in some cases, delicious foods. What makes this record cover unique is that it wasn’t done by us or someone else; it’s both at the same time. Technically, from what I remember, our friend Nate Malinowski spraypainted the cardstock through a bbq grill and out came that pattern. You should see the original; it’s really trippy. Zac and I color- changed it in photoshop though. We also were the “choosers” of that album cover over hundreds of different potential album covers. So, 45% Nate, 45% Us, maybe 5% other people on this particular piece. Is that a fair mathematical breakdown Zac?

Zac Traeger: Yeah, basically I usually go to the paper store. For the most part, this store is just for crafty old women and people getting married. They love me in that store cause I always buy tons of paper and know all about the different stocks of paper and prices. Then we get a bunch of spray paint, cut stencils, make stamps, stickers, paint markers, paint, crayons and various other art-making supplies. We throw all this stuff out on the lawn and then have we have a party… the result is 100-200 custom cases. They all are folded out of two pieces of paper so when everything is done, we pick two pieces of art that compliment each other and fold them together to make a case.

Chown: When we saw what Nate had just created during our wacky spraypaint party, and I mean, we were spraypainting chairs, busts, everything. He just sorta whipped it out, and we were all like, cooooool!”


Chown: Shapes and colors are more direct themes of how I think about art, whether it’s music or visual. I hear the shapes and colors in our music which compels me to find/make an album cover that would match the sort of shapes and colors I see in my head representing our music.

Traeger: Yeah, the colors really match that particular four-song collection. Bright colors with a touch of grain and rawness, all while blending together in a soothing way.

Chown: That image you see is the ‘digital’ album cover. Every copy of the record we have give away physically at shows and whatnot,are all different. They are the other thousands of spraypaint pieces we’ve done by ourselves and that other people have collaborated on with us. Our overall album art concept is simple ~ each individual album has different art that’s unique and only YOU have it. So if we’ve given out thousands of these things, then that means we’ve made over 1000 different art pieces, and those different people are the owners of that. I’d like to think that we’re not only creating and selling music to people, we’re selling art, and simultaneously giving them a reason to want to buy music in the first place. Art gives people incentive to buy, it gives me incentive to buy, I know that. You’re not only buying music, you’re buying art. I think it’s a new approach/business model to how art/music/culture should be consumed; make everything individualized. If I was at a show and a band had put their time, effort, heart, soul, sweat, etc. into making the art for their record unique for each copy, and it’s up to me which one I want to take home, it makes the experience more exciting and memorable, as well as giving me further incentive and desire to want to buy their album in the first place.

Traeger: Yeah, I don’t ever really buy CDs at shows, but I definitely will buy something hand-made. I think for the most part the cd is just kind of worthless and the inside of the cd cases have a download link anyways. Its about the custom made package and the experience of picking one out that fits you.

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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