I WORKED WITH THE SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS!
(Beware the bragger on the border)
I’ve alluded and teased this major event and I cannot begin to explain the feeling of accomplishment that I am feeling right now. I somehow managed to go from happy-go-lucky self-taught animator with a knack for Pink Floyd imagery, to actually become a part of the ongoing Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets tour.
This is what happened…
In 2018 I went to see the Saucers in Copenhagen (second night of the tour).
A tremendous and emotional experience. Apparently and as expected the Saucers have an absolutely astounding stage production behind them. I would never dream of contesting the skill that goes into making a full performance package like this, but I had an idea when the Saucers played the titular track, specifically during the Celestial voices part.
“This would look amazing with my old Saucerful of Secrets animation”.
But off course it would Mr. artiste à la frontière. It’s scored on the same parts of the song. You made it for this kind of usage. A dreamy animated wallpaper. But don’t be silly now Alex…nobody’s gonna buy that dream of yours. Just relax, finish your beer and enjoy the show.
I’m going to tell this story. Because it’s kinda fun. And it’s a good thing to make notes of your doings.
A COLLECTION OF ODDITIES AND RELICS
By 2018 my interest in animated Pink Floyd album covers was at an all time low. I had uploaded stuff to my YouTube channel but I saw no traction whatsoever. A few measly 100 views that would summarize the hours spent to make something as intricate as “Relics” or “Saucerful”. Most people these days tend to think that you download some magic mobile app which makes stuff move, and apparently most of the doom-scrolling audience is more than contempt with that aesthetic. It burdens me a bit because I sometime feel as if people can’t make a distinction between a fancy snapchat filter and hand-drawn animation.
“Relics” wasn’t actually an animation (Apparently the Artist says). It started off as an exercise in good-hearted piracy. I was at one point in time connected to a gang of pirates who shared so called Records Of Illegitimate/Indeterminate Origins. (what you would call Bootlegs). We had a nice little Speakeasy (also known as a “blind pig”) in the murky depth of the Direct Connect hub network. This was back in the early 2000s.
EMI Japan had just released the mini-LP versions of the Pink Floyd back catalogue and “Oh, by the way” was coming up on the horizon. Me and a few of the punters in the Orange maze hub was playing around with DIY versions of out-of-print mini LP covers. I still have a of them at home, including a very nice pair of…. well Nice Pairs. One for Picnic and one for the godawful grey Masters of Rock compilation with Syd Barrett replacing David Gilmour.
I had fun making these small homemade CD-LP covers and people seemed to enjoy them. In the process of making my way forward I would request scans of albums that I could work on. One of which was the original “Relics”.
Now you may not have noticed this but most copies of Relics tend to be a bit yellowed and dirty. It’s to be expected of a then 30 year old vinyl with a white non laminated sleeve.
The scan I got was good. High-resolution and functional, but I also realized that cleaning the image would be a hassle. These days I would have done it more efficiently, but I decided to hand trace Nicks original drawing. Let’s conclude that it took helluva long time trace.
STRANGE IS ALWAYS CHANGING SIZE.
The animation for Saucerful came more organically. It wasn´t easy to design and it took a good long time to complete. A couple of months I think, in small increments. The level of complexity in Saucer is astounding. Most people don´t recognize the details when looking at the cover.
Perhaps its because Saucerful generally is reproduced in a darkened tone. At least the prints I´ve seen. But there is a lot going on in there. And when you dive into the art you keep discovering new angles and new twists and turns. I admit that this one might be my personal favorite.
Relics was fun but Saucer became a visual experience onto itself. Again it went online and saw better traction. Specifically it keeps getting picked up by bloggers dissecting the story about Dr. Strange and Pink Floyd. Obviously I feel grateful for that. But as it would these two animations, flanked by my other works lived a life of slow growth, that is until one day in 2019 when lightning struck.
SEAL OF APPROVAL FROM CAPTAIN MASON R.N.
One day things went bonkers on my Youtube channel. Thousands of views in a matter of hours and congratulatory messages in the comments.
“See Nick Mason’s hand-drawn contraption which graces the cover of the Relics compilation (released today in 1971) in action: in this fan animation, the contraption comes to life in a rather impressive way!”
and more specifically…
“This fan animation of the cover of the Floyd’s Relics album was met with much approval by Nick, the original artist. Great to see his creation in action!“ – https://twitter.com/nickmasondrums/status/1128615347660234753?s=20&t=lHRnDVawJWHiSQ7YNw99Jg
Words fail to describe the exhilaration I felt. I literally fell of my chair and called my wife. Hyperventilation. Honey gasp gasp Nick Mason Gasp gasp Pink Floyd, you get the point.
Relics had been seen by not just any anonymous social media administrator. It had been seen and approved by Nick Mason himself. I felt as If I had just delivered a baby. A healthy and animated baby carrying an idea.
GET ME GUY PRATT!
November 4th 2019 I decided to make a move. Saucers was preparing a second world tour and by that point I guessed that offering up my services would be a one shot of luck. I haven’t had any great luck talking to famous strangers online. You write something for Jon Carin in a chat and its burried in a haze of porn-spam. I once tried to get hold of Roger through his management but again no luck. Using social media to reach out to people is not specifically practical. After having googled I stumbled across Guy Pratts email. Ok, Pratt. Here goes nothing. I sent an email saying something like.
“Fan of yours. Artist. Made this thing that would look good behind you! And oh yeah. I´m the same bloke that made that Relics animation that Pink Floyd official shared a couple of months back. Anyways. Love your music. Alex”
He replied within the hour.
“I think your animation is wonderful and I’m going to pass it on to the band and see what they say.”
The next reply was equally friendly. The band loved it, Nick loved it. We want to use it and not just that.
Can we use the Relics one too?
Why sure Mr. Pratt. Use Relics too. It´s yours.
(Essentially this makes the artist on the border. I am an artist. But I work on the border between right and wrong. Between lawful and illegal. Between being an artist in his own right but still depend on somebody else’s work for the magic. The material was always Pink Floyd‘s and Nick Mason‘s with Relics. Incidentally this also leads to the very bleak prospects that I can´t actually sell anything that I don´t own. But that is a rabbit hole I won´t discuss here.)
The Saucers accepted and I was sent to their production team.
NEW VERSION (STILL UNSEEN)
The deal was to make two looping 4 minute versions of the animations. High definition off course. Back in 2010 I didn´t care to future proof my work by making 1080p versions of them. The videos was a gag. A “joke”, a pass-time. So I had to dig out all my master-files and re-render them. This meant that I got to go back and change things that had bothered me.
All animations come to a point where you just loose interest. You want to get it done and you just ignore silly little things like white lines obscuring parts of the background, or the motion of how things are flowing. For instance in the Relics animation I had the ship flying in reverse. You don´t notice it when you are watching it for a brief minute or two but I noticed and there was nothing I could do about it. Until now. So I redid the things I didn´t like. I even added to the complexity. For instance: The rockfaced title “Pink Floyd Relics” was replaced with a hand-drawn “Nick Mason” title. As well as adding a brief animation of an animated Nick drumming away in front of his creation. My thought being that if you work for Nick Mason then do it all the way.
For Saucerful I changed some smaller things that I thought improved the overall presentation. Added a new animation in the mid-orb and shipped it off to the production. This was a few days shy of new years eve 2019.
NOTHINGS PART 1 – COVID
Nothing happened. I got approval for the technical part from the production company and I awaited the tour start. And COVID struck. Apparently the artist on the border doesn´t need to remind anyone of the lock-down years. During this time I struck up a healthy working relationship with Men on the border and worked my way forward with more backdrops for their, also Syd Barrett inspired, live shows. Göran Nyström singer in the band asked me several times for the Saucerful animation but I turned him down. Saucerful and Relics is taken. I got no response from the band either, and didn´t seek it. I needed visual confirmation that the show was on.
FAST FORWARD 2022
The tour started. I had asked for eyes on the ground and that first night I got two rapid messages.
“Animations used” and “Also Bike”. After a few days I saw video proof of my work running behind the band. Again I was ecstatic. Now I can say something that is truly beyond belief even to me. I have joined the ranks of Storm Thorgerson, Gerald Scarfe and Ian Eames. We have all produced backdrops for a Pink Floyd show. (Though obviously the Artist on the border is a footnote to this celebrated and astounding group of artists). Sorry about that I just had to write it. Now all I needed was to wrap up the story with a good final chapter which goes like this….
OSLO MAY 17TH THE FINAL CHAPTER
I finally got myself hauled off to Oslo for the 17th of May. Guy and I had been in contact and he arranged for three tickets and backstage passes to the show at Oslo Sentrum. Without being biased I can off course say that I enjoyed the show tremendously. The overall look and feel of the Saucers are besides no other. It is after all 2/3s of the current version of Pink Floyd performing some of the best parts of their back catalogue.
The encore was rivetting. Not only is the track “A Saucerful of Secrets” an underrated gem, its also well performed in the hands of the band of the same name. “Bike” is as much a singalong as Arnold and Emily. And there on large scale canvases is my boyish ambitions framing the performance. I´ve actually seen my own work on a movie-screen once and my name in the rolling credits. But this moment is truly and wonderfully bizarre. Its that tale of practicing something specifically for 10000 hours and you will master it. Well… these are my 10000 hours and its not just my fifteen minutes of fame. My four minutes of animations run every night for each leg of the tour.
I met Nick Mason and the Saucerful of secrets backstage after the show. Actually I met 2/3s of Pink Floyd and the Rockonteurs after that show. They greeted me. We talked and exchanged pleasantries. I may have pushed for them to use more of my work and I got the one thing I had saved for last. A personal dedication with a thanks from Nick Mason on a battered old dirty copy of Relics.
Alexander Stubbe Teglbjaerg, also known as Artist on the border is a danish born artist and animator in Sweden. He has produced animations and videos for Nick Mason´s Saucerful of secrets, the official Syd Barrett facebook page and was featured internationally with his colorisation of “Apples and Oranges on American Bandstand”. The artist on the border has also severeal videos for swedish acts “Men on the border” and guitarist Janne Schaffer (ABBA).
Artist on the border on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/artistontheborder
Artist on the border on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/ArtistontheBorder