In the Spring of 2007, London musician and producer Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy released his first LP on his new label Claremont 56. Produced with his long time collaborator Ben Smith, Blue River was soon being spun by purveyors of all things Balearic, Phil Mison and Moonboots.
It was a compilation put together by Manchester's Moonboots and fellow DJ and collector Balearic Mike called Originals that really began to make Claremont 56 a cult label. Limited to just 800 copies, the LP soon became sought after both for its obscure mix of music (everything from neo folk to Italo disco) and its beautiful packaging. Volume 2 soon followed, with Mark Seven digging just as deep to reveal the delights of the synth pop disco of Joker and other obscure records whose price on Discogs soon rocketed.
As well as the 10 Originals compilations, the label has continued to develop a close-knit community of global artists and producers with LPs by the likes of German woozy post rockers Bambi Davidson, the Italian psych rock meets disco project Almunia, and Paqua (Paul Murphy’s collaboration with Bing Ji Ling of Phenomenal Handclap Band and Alex Searle), as well as Smith & Mudd collaborations like Bison with the Can legend Holger Czukay. A student of typography and a graphic designer for 15 years, Paul Murphy has also brought a distinct visual identity to the label both through his own design as Mudd and the artwork of Mark Warrington.
To celebrate 10 years of the label, Claremont 56 are releasing a compilation that is their most heavyweight and luxurious item yet: a five LP hand-numbered, vinyl box set with debossed logos and art work by Bristol street artist Sickboy. As the label has always had such a visual aesthetic we asked Paul Murphy for five artists who have inspired him.
My brother and I watched Style Wars when it was originally aired on Channel 4 around 1983 and got a glimpse into this amazing, colourful world of graffiti. It gave us an insight to what was happening in the States and we were fascinated by it. The way it was edited to the soundtrack was unlike anything we'd seen before and we wanted to associate ourselves with the whole culture of it, the breakdancing, the electro music, the graffiti and the fashion... obviously on a much more suburban level in Hertfordshire's Bricket Wood!
We recorded it onto video and were completely obsessed with it and watched it over and over. We'd pause it and place paper over the TV screen so we could trace pieces of the artwork. Seen was featured heavily in the film and also in a book I cherished called Subway Art - he became my favourite artist and I used to spend hours and hours adapting letters from his pieces to my own style.
In 2005 I went to his exhibition at the Outside Institute in Paddington and bought a canvas with his classic "S" on it. A few years ago, I had a surreal Seen moment in LA. I had played at a warehouse party through the night and had to get a taxi around 8am straight to the train station and saw a freshly sprayed Seen piece under a bridge. It was lit up by the early morning sunlight and looked like he literally had just stopped painting. My wife and I looked at each other in disbelief, as if to say "did you just see that?".
2. Keith Haring
My love for Keith Haring follows on from my love of graffiti really. I loved his simple colourful characters and I used to copy them and paint them onto furniture in my bedroom.
I was luckily enough to meet and work with Sal P from Liquid Liquid and he gave me a demo of an 80s New York band called 'Dog Eat Dog', which I loved, and I agreed to release it. I asked whether they had any old photos from the 80s to help create the LP art, as I wanted to show the history and authenticity of what they were doing. They sent me a bunch of images over, including the Keith Haring drawing of the chain of dogs biting each other. I asked them if they named their band after the Haring drawing and found out that they were friends with him and he had drawn it for them to use on a flyer to promote themselves! When I saw this, it just had to be the cover - I was so excited to get to use it.
There's an amazing Keith Haring museum in Japan, a few hours from Tokyo. I contacted them last year to ask whether they would like to include a copy of the album in their collection and they said yes. So last year, when I was on tour in Japan I visited their incredible museum and presented them with a copy. It's a great place run by amazing people with constantly changing exhibitions of the large catalogue of Keith's work that the foundation own. DJ Nori and I are hoping to have a party in the courtyard of the museum next year with the guys that get me out there, Max Essa and Haraguchi.
3. Reg Mombassa
I loved Reg Mombassa's work for Mambo back in the 90s and then I remember seeing a postcard at a friend's house of "The miracle of the pies and beer" image he created of his Australian Jesus and loved it so much, they bought me a book of his work. I became obsessed with his work and really wanted to use his artwork on the second Akwaaba album 'Too Shiny'. So I contacted them and got permission to use his 'Car-bone with space dog' image for the cover. Once it was released I found an address for Reg and sent him a copy. Off the back of that, the Watters Gallery, who sells most of his original work, got in touch and still to this day, send me details of his art when it's up for sale. I have a couple of great prints, but a few years ago, my wife and I treated ourselves to an original painting he did of Waiheke Island in New Zealand, where we got engaged in 2012.
His style also inspired the painting of a jungle scene that I commissioned Mark Warrington to create for the Mudd & Pollard LP I worked on with Kevin Pollard
4. Ernst Keller
I studied typography at college and my teacher was really into the 'Swiss Style' which had the principles of "Cleanliness. Readability. Objectivity.". Studying it in great detail gave me a real passion for this art form and most of my design work for the label starts with a typographic approach. Ernst Keller was the godfather of this style and he introduced the grid system which is now commonly used by designers. The influence of his work is an inspiration to me every working day really.
5. Yoshitoma Nara
I first saw Nara's work at a brilliant exhibition at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle in 2008.
I'm not sure how much his work has inspired me, but I think the fact that I love his work is because it taps into a lot of things that I enjoy about art. His work is quite often created on an epic, almost graffiti like scale and is very graphic and simple, even though also very delicately created. Plus, for me, it definitely has a Japanese feel - a culture and style that I have grown to love after years of visiting.
Out of all the artists, he is the one that I dream of owning an original by one day, and maybe a Haring.