February 8th, 2013
Wonderland nab an exclusive illustration-in-progress off much-hyped French born, London based musician-turned-illustrator McBess (aka Matthieu Bessudo). Scroll down for the full effect.
McBess uses his drawing to bring together two of his longest standing passions – music and design – producing inky monochromes that are reminiscent of old 1930s cartoons. Wanting to get to know him a bit better, Wonderland sat down with the Frenchman to find out more about his latest work with music subscription service Deezer, what it’s like watching Mickey Mouse on LSD and how his love of The Office borders on obsession.
How did you first get started in illustration?
I started drawing about 8 years ago. I’ve been playing in bands since I was about 15, but being a drummer in a punk band in Cannes, there wasn’t much of a future for it really. I ended up studying 3D animation when I first got to London and illustration was more of a side project, but then I made a load of friends who were also involved in illustration and I got hooked, I started doing more and more of it and that was that.
Listening to some of the music that you and the Dead Pirates have produced, it feels like there’s a real connection between your music and the style of your drawings. How would you describe your aesthetic?
Well, I think I’m a bit of a cynical guy, I like some quite dark stuff, like with my music but nothing too creepy! I don’t want it to be morbid or rude or anything so it’s a fine line. I think it’s also because everything is in black and white that makes it look similar to punk and rock, and I draw these weird smiles.
Some of the examples you’ve sent through of your recent work with Deezer are a lot more colourful. Was that something quite new for you?
Colour isn’t something that I normally use in my drawings, just because it’s not really part of the world that I see when I draw. Ha I guess I’m going for more like, old Disney cartoons that look like they’re on acid or crack or something. But yea working with Deezer was great! There was so much freedom. It’s really hard to involve yourself in an illustration when someone keeps coming back with changes, you end up not caring about what you’re doing anymore, but the work with Deezer still feels like a personal project for me.
Is there a theme behind each totem? Do they represent different aspects of the ideas behind the drawing?
Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on, it’s all about connectivity, society, live music, online/offline, all sorts of stuff which I haven’t drawn before but it’s like a puzzle, working out how to fit it all together. Then the animation for the video was done by some friends who work at CRCR. I did the key frames, but they did the animation, and they kept all the shading and everything and it just worked really well.
It’s a redesign of the Deezer equaliser, which meant it was quite a cool project. I’ve wanted to work with them for a while. I feel like music is getting more democratic now, you can take it into your own hands and put your songs on the web, it’s not just about who has the most money and the biggest record label it’s just about making and sharing music. I’d like to see major record labels go down the drain kind of, you know.
Tell us something we don’t know.
Ha! That’s hard! OK, I’ve watched every episode of The Office, maybe 30 times each, both American and English.
Words: Thomas Curry