Neil Young Archives Vol. 1: Collaborating
It may have been 20 years in the making but it was one of the most enjoyable and collaborative projects I've ever worked on. Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1: 1963-1972 hit stores June 2, 2009. I have been working with Neil on album covers since his release of After the Gold Rush in 1970. I would listen in on Neil's recording sessions, I mean really listen to the music, and most of the time the music will tell me what the design wants to be. I'd present my ideas to Neil, and he'd give me his own ideas and feedback, and we would incorporate both into the album design.
Neil is a prolific writer and a has great vision. It's nice to collaborate with someone that doesn't do design, they see beyond the boundaries we put on ourselves and push us further. Often times he would come up with things that I never thought would work -- and they would! For instance, we had the the journal in the Vol. 1 pretty much ready to go, and Neil decided he wanted to have maps in the background of every page. I thought, no way that will work, but it ended up working really, really well. It adds an element of a journey, like walking in Neil's footsteps. Neil doesn't understand the concept of "we can't do that," and his ideas almost always end up being right. It has been and remains a great, always mind expanding trip.
Working with Neil has always been a rich collaboration for me. I'm continually learning from him, learning not to accept boundaries, and this has led to a rich friendship. Neil was even the best man at my wedding to Jenice Heo, who is a brilliant painter/artist and she contributed her talents to the box set.
Neil had the idea for the Archives 20 years ago, back in 1989. At first, the Archive was going to be all of his work up until 1989, but as we worked with our archivist and gathered more and more material, we realized we would have to break it down into periods. We just had too rich a volume of visual material and music. When we started to think about how to present it,we quickly realized there just wasn't the kind of technology back then to fully implement Neil's vision. We waited for CD's to come out, and then we realized that they wouldn't be what we needed. When DVD's were first introduced, we thought for sure we hit the jackpot, but even that wasn't enough. When Blu-Ray was launched we knew we had what we needed technologically to tell this story.
With Blu-Ray, not only do you have high definition video and interactive menus, but you can also access new material as it comes out and archive it, which is great because with that ability the Neil Young Archives is a living, breathing, constantly growing project. It really has a life of its own. We are making a second edition of Vol. I with the new material and updates we've added so far.
This box set is unlike anything else. There are about 60 hours of music, the Blue Ray version is customizable, you can go online and add material to your archive. This is a truly organic project that has a life of its own.
I can't wait to see what the Volume 2 will hold for us all.