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Behind the Artwork: Zach Jaeger & Fela Kuti

Yesterday, Knitting Factory Records released Fela Kuti’s the Best of Black President Pt. 2 which is an extensive collection of the legendary Afrobeat pioneer’s music ranging from 1971’s “Black Man’s Cry” to 1992’s “Underground System”.  This release is part of Knitting Factory’s ongoing commitment to make Fela Kuti’s music available to the public.

The above artwork for “Best of Black President Pt 2″ was revived by a Columbus ex-pat  Zach Jaeger . Mr. Jaeger  has worked on several of Knitting Factory’s Fela efforts including  Fela: Live In Detroit 1986, and the Ginger Baker compiled Fela: Vinyl Box Set 2 . I talked to Zach about how one goes from taking photos for Columbus Metal Band Teeth of the Hydra to working on important Fela Kuti releases and more.

How long have you been working on the Fela Kuti reissues?

It’s been a little over 4 years now. The beginning phases were a little slow as far as compiling art, information, and data so I don’t really think it jumped off until 2010. It’s been non-stop since then.

For “Live in Detroit 1986″ you used actual tickets from the show, and posters? What approach did you take when utilizing those objects?

We weren’t sure what we were going to do with that once we got it (art wise). We were working on having a TDK master cassette tape that the concert was recorded on being cleaned up (including blending the split where the engineer had to physically flip the cassette mid concert to continue recording). I was starting to concept the art when we received the poster and ticket stub from the actual show. It made perfect sense to make the poster the cover and re-appropriate the ticket to be the back of the record. When I found out that a TDK-SA90 cassette tape was used to record the show I went through a huge box of cassettes I had and found one. I brought it in and scanned it and adjusted everything to fit the liner notes. Where all the info about the cassette would be I changed to reflect all the technical info about the 1986 recording. I wanted to do something only analog audio nerds could really respect, I am one. The packaging even had to be approved by TDK, they loved it.

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