Described by Pitchfork as “an agent of chaos… thriving in mayhem,” 19-year-old Irish producer Iglooghost (a.k.a. Seamus Malliagh) blends juke, two-step, IDM, and bass music to create a sound that seems to spiral with motion. We think his music calls to mind the noise of gelatinous worms flying through pastel-colored portals— one look at his album art we think you’ll see what we mean. One reason the fever-dreamy visuals are so in tune with his music is because the young Iglooghost doesn’t simply produce his music, he designs and creates its accompanying characters, too.
Shading isolated shapes to form 3D geometric creatures and landscapes, the world Iglooghost inhabits seems located somewhere between Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, the puzzle game Monument Valley, and an image by illustrator Jack Sachs. Iglooghost is following in a long line of musicians who create their own artwork, such as Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, or Joni Mitchell, but what sets him apart is the very interconnected role that the process of graphic design plays when it comes to music production. The two seamlessly rely on and inform one another.
“I’ve always drawn pictures, so combining the two just felt so obvious,” says Iglooghost. “I’ve always been interested in the way you can look at different images while listening to music and kinda change how you perceive the sound—so I’m always trying to accentuate qualities of the music with the imagery.”
After getting signed to Flying Lotus’ prestigious independent electronic music label Brainfeeder, this month has been an whirlwind for Iglooghost. He’s just released his latest album, so he’s touring and promoting, and next week he’ll be starting his first year at university in Bristol, UK, to study graphic design. “I’m kinda excited but kinda scared that it’s about to kill my music productivity,” he says. “I’m probably just gonna have to sacrifice downing kegs and be a hermit in my room and making stupid music all night.”
Aside from the music itself, we wanted to know what else informs his graphic work. We should have been prepared for the answer. “Neō Wax Bloom was inspired by meeting these little beings who started talking to me through this portal in my garden,” says Iglooghost, who reproduces this tale in the album’s accompanying large format, 12-page Risoprinted comic booklet and character sticker sheet. “They told me about a foggy world made of chalk called Mamu, and how a pair of giant eyeballs fell from the sky and sent their world’s nature into chaos. I thought it was all pretty cool so I made an album about the things they told me.”
This vision, hoax, fantasy, or possible truth is inevitably whipped together in a mind raised on cartoons. “I grew up on Pokémon especially, and I think it’s definitely made me obsessed with collecting little characters and imaginary ecosystems. All the Pokémon designs from 2000-2003 had this really simplified, kitschy aesthetic that I fell in love with as a kid. I was too young for the first load of Pokémon, so I was raised by the second generation—all the weird looking guys like Aipom, Sudowoodo, Wooper, etc. Silly ass designs with big googly eyes and cheeky smiles.”
Asked whether he’d ever let another designer touch one of his covers in the future, Iglooghost digs his heels in. “I’m a total control freak when it comes to the Igloo stuff. If something doesn’t go exactly how I intended it to go in my head, I feel like the world’s ending. Even if my favorite artist in the world had to do the artwork, I’d probably have a heart attack and die. This shit is so important to me.”