The Designs is a new project from Billy T Cooper of JTR Sickert fame & singer, designer and videographer Snovonne ‘Sno’ Drake that delivers some powerful dark electronic metal with a sort of cabaret vibe that is haunting and compelling. While they are just getting started The Designs have already started getting attention based upon their previous works and the immense potential they both bring to the project.
Sno: The Designs is a new project founded by me and Billy. We’ve known each other for a while, our bands (Billy’s JTR Sickert and my solo project Snovonne) have toured together often. A while back Billy asked me to direct some videos for new music he was working on. Our ideas blended together really well and I also ended up working on the music. Eventually it became clear that we should start a project of this nature. Dynamic, emotionally aggressive, very visual. The concepts are rooted in psychology, inspired by our duality, passion for open mind, freedom, melancholy.
Billy: The Designs is about contrasts and catharsis. It’s mixed electronic, metal, rock, dark… different moods, different parts of the soul that needs to vent. The relativity of ‘normal’. I am a criminal lawyer, I council psychopaths at mental hospitals and in their criminal proceedings, so I’m constantly reminded of the strengths and weaknesses of the mind. It’s dangerous to ignore your dark side, it will bite back.
There are two members currently. Will you be adding any other full timers or just hire guns for touring?
Sno: Although Billy and me are the core and do all the writing, we would like to have full time members, not just hired guns for touring. We’d like to work with musicians who are great performers but also involved in the concepts, beyond the music. We want to prepare something theatrical and cinematic. We have a couple of people we’re already working with, but the final line-up hasn’t solidified yet.
What image do you want your music to convey to your fans?
Billy: We’d like them to react, make them feel things.. Move them, mentally and/or physically. Speak to the deeper parts of their human nature and awaken a different idea of themselves. That’s what the music we love does to us. We would like to bring people back to the Dionysian spirit and help them get away from the common and current effort to over-interpret the world in just a rational way.
What are some things about the The Design’s style that shows off your uniqueness and individuality?
Billy: I guess the fact that we like to portray a complete work of art, from music to design and video. The music is just one component for us. We like to create a complete world people can spend some time in. That’s also why we picked the name The Designs. It’s all about layers and designs… of character, of the mind.
Did you find it hard to break into the business and what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
Sno: I think the biggest obstacle has always been trust. You need to pass through a lot of situations, often risky and/or disappointing to find people you can work with as well as rely on. So basically most of your life is spent hoping you find these people before you lose all faith in humanity (laugh).
What satisfies you most while performing live as a band?
Billy: Playing live for us it ‘s like a ritual, we really enjoy connecting with everything on stage… the musicians, the sound itself, the visual aspects.. It feels like the show is its own leader and just plays through us, very liberating.
Sno: Yes. And when we write and create at home or in the studio it’s a private world. Bringing it on stage means inviting other people to our world, sharing our feelings and that’s a rush. It rewards us with more energy.
How have you seen yourself evolve as a musician since you first started performing professionally?
Sno: Me personally, I’ve just noticed that I’m more comfortable on stage. I’m not that worried about details now and just focus on the people and the music. Also writing-wise I think we’re both more outspoken and direct about what we want to express. Kind of sharpened the edges, you could say. But the process never really stops… there’s always something to improve upon and something new to learn.
What are a few of the struggles when trying to balance home life, work life, and band life?
Billy: Well, it gets complicated, because our brains are very hyper and we’re always working on, or thinking about music and videos. Makes it hard to be a part of the everyday world sometimes. But we know that without it, we wouldn’t have the inspiration. Nothing to react to or to say about the period of time we are living in. It’s mostly a struggle for time because there’s so much we love to do apart from making music – filming, reading, drawing, writing, seeing shows, exhibitions..
Have you ever written a song that you weren’t very satisfied with but everyone seemed to enjoy it?
Sno: Not really – not because there wouldn’t be songs we’re not satisfied with but just because we don’t tend to share too much unless we’re happy with it
Do you like recording in a studio or live performance more?
Sno: Love both, couldn’t live without one or the other. Recording in a studio is an introspective, creative time, which is very important, therapeutical. Live shows are where you point your energy outwards, let it all out and share your thoughts.. also very important, fulfilling. I think both are crucial to an artist’s sanity.
What updates can you give us on your debut album? How is it coming along and when can we expect it?
Sno: It’s going great. Majority of the album is recorded – there are some things we’re still ironing out. We’re hoping to have everything finished within the following months, we’d love to release it next year.
Will there be tours to support your upcoming album? If so what territories would you like to cover and what one dream venue would you like to play?
Billy: Yes, absolutely. We’re hoping start with Europe or the US and see where it takes us. Dream venue? Royal Albert Hall or Madison Square Garden!
What is the one most important thing you would like the world to know about The Designs?
Billy: We really believe that “….art is the blood of our soul..”, quoting one of my fav painters, Edvard Munch. Inspire, and be inspired. What seems weird or crazy most of the time triggers finding, or rediscovering, your own personality. And we love the weird!