Interview: We chat to Peeping Drexels about art and their personalised 7″ covers

Peeping Drexels’, Dylan Coates, has a passion for all aspects of art. From writing music upon the reflection of the angry working class, studying the fine arts, to having passion for filmmaking, there really is no shortage of experimentation and pushing of boundaries.

With the bands recently released double A side ‘Ray Purchase’ and ‘Life of Milo’, Coates has created fifty unique and personalised 7″ vinyl covers for fans to grab ahold of; each with a recognisable gritty and rough DIY aesthetic. I spoke with Coates to discuss the idea behind this project and where the inspiration for each of the individual pieces stems from.

When did you start experimenting with other mediums of art?

I have made visual art my entire life, music is secondary, and I wouldn’t even really call myself a musician. I’m very passionate about filmmaking, and that’s what I love doing the most, but I try and dabble in everything. I’m currently studying a fine art degree which I’ve mainly been painting for, so that’s what takes up my time at the moment.

Would you say it’s important to have a balance or variety of different forms of art to experiment with?

I think it’s extremely important to experiment with as many different forms of art as you can, there are no rules to artistic expression. I think restricting yourself to one medium is boring, fuck a comfort zone.

Who inspired you the most as an artist? What makes them standout and special to you?

I don’t think one particular person inspires my work, but I’m very inspired by cinema and the composition of each frame. Seeing a beautiful image on a big screen is so exciting to me, especially if the beauty is coming from something usually deemed horrible or taboo. I’m a big fan of the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Wim Wenders, etc. I think their films have some perfect examples of this, almost like watching a moving painting. If I had to pick one individual, I think it would be Dennis Hopper, just because he dipped his hand into everything and whatever he did was always great. The man was a god.

Where did the idea for the personalized vinyl covers stem from?

Our friend Bertie from Deptford Vinyl came up with the ideas for the personalized covers; he’s the one who pressed the records for us too. We met through music, he gave us our first gig, but he rolled to an exhibition of mine once and came up with the idea after seeing my work. Big up Bertie, he’s a fantastic guy, and he’s helped us out with lots of things over the years.

Was it difficult to create fifty personalized/unique ideas that all had a common theme or purpose?

Making 50 different covers seemed quite daunting at the beginning, but once I got into the flow of things, it was calm. I treat each 7inch as a mini-canvas, just throwing whatever idea I had at it and seeing if it worked. I don’t think there really is a common theme across them, other than the fact that they are all pieces of my work. I didn’t want any of them to feel remotely similar to each person who owns one feels like they’ve got their own one of a kind piece of art. I actually haven’t even finished them all yet; I still have a couple more blank ones lying around.  

Is there one vinyl cover that you connected to the most of felt a sense of accomplishment with over the others?

I think the red church design is a favorite of mine; I think I might regret using it for this and not saving it for an actual album cover or something. Fuck it; maybe we will use it again in the future.

How did you choose the different elements for the piece?

I have this book called Phenomena which documents a load of weird shit that’s happened in the past, like raining frogs and children being raised by wolves. There’s a lot about cults in there too, and most of the imagery I used for the collages all came from that, I’d flick through it until something caught my eye. Some of the covers are a bit more personal though and include some of my photography. For example, we have a couple dedicated to our favorite south London venues like The Windmill and Skehans, so I’ve used a few old pictures of my bandmates drinking at them.

What gives them your own personal spark? What makes people recognize that this is your artwork?

I mean the dirty, DIY aesthetic of the covers is reminiscent of my art. So probably that.

Peeping Drexels’ personalised covers are exclusively available to buy at their shop and their live shows. Follow them on Spotify here to keep an eye on new releases and tour dates.

Header image shows full range of 7″ artwork by Dylan Coates.