For indie rapper El-P, album artwork is as essential as the recording itself, especially on his new, mostly-instrumental mixtape Weareallgoingtoburninhell-megamixxx3, which features the graphic design of comic book artist Travis Millard. In the exclusive video below, the rapper and the artist talk together onscreen about how the artwork for megamixxx3 came to life.
"At this point, I feel like the stuff Travis does for these mixes is indispensable," El-P tells SPIN.com of Millard, who also did the artwork for his 2008 mix, megamixxx2. "I won't do these albums without him."
Millard, who helms Fudge Factory Comics out of LA's Echo Park neighborhood, says he based his latest creation off the previous mixtape and El-P's 2007 album, I'll Sleep When You're Dead, both of which featured scary looking birds.
"For this round, I wanted to reference that theme and push it further with color," Millard says. "I had a little pile of drawings I'd been working on for it, but when El-P sent me the album, I found myself just zoning out and drawing this feathery hell ball thing that eventually became the cover. I didn't set out to create anything specific, it was more about just drawing and meditating on the music."
"The first thing he showed me was the bird from the inside cover and I loved it immediately," El-P says.
"Thank goodness he was into it," quips Millard, who lists Minor Threat's Out of Step, Beastie Boys' License to Ill, and Pavement's Wowie Zowie among his all-time favorite album covers. "Otherwise he might've thrashed me with one of his vicious lyrical swattings."
Watch the video below and go deeper into Millard's creative direction for El-P's album artwork, then tell us what you think in the comments section.
WATCH: El-P & Travis Millard