Félix Godefroy is a freelance graphic designer based in Lille (France). He designed covers and event posters for Hot Casa Records, Free Your Funk and many others. Also known as a dj under the Abdulpipo moniker, Felix shares his passion for all things groovy on Comala Radio.
Sit back, relax, stream his musical selection and discover how African music changed the way he approaches his work as a designer.
Brook Benton – She Knows What to Do For Me (1969)
Myriam Makeba – Milele (1975)
Sami Smith – Saunder’s Ferry Lane (1970)
Eddie Holmann – Four Walls (1969)
The Jack Moves – Doublin’ Down (2015)
Lucio Battisti – Il Nostro Caro Angelo (1973)
Millie jackson – I Cry (1973)
Ann Peebles – Come to Mama (1975)
David McWilliams – Can I Get There By Candlelight (1967)
Super Mama Djombo – Nhamako (1983)
Abdel Halim Hafez – Ahwak (1973)
Lee Hazlewood – The Night Before (1970)
Guru – Lifesaver feat. Babe & PapaLu (1995)
Edo G & Da Bulldogs – I Got to Have It (1991)
Benjamin Zephaniah – Get High (1983)
– Hello Félix, Could you introduce yourself and share some of your early influences ?
I’ve always been drawing as a kid. My first graphic design emotions were directly rooted to the hip hop culture. I remember being fond of graffiti and I once bought this Futura 2000 book — which I still have and hold in high regard — where I had my first glimpse on some design crossovers. The way he melted painting, drawing, shapes, letters and colours; it really had me on. I was too young to understand what graphic design really was. I couldn’t imagine back then what a graphic chart or a logo could be, but I could perceive what a really cool album cover or a real nice party flyer was. So I started to compulsively collect them all. Because of this Covid lockdown thing we’ve just been through, I started doing some cleaning and sorted of all these things that I accumulated over the years, and I recently found all these flyers I hadn’t seen for years.
I got totally amazed by the sleeves, the design, the boldness and, most of all, by the way they were actually done: hand drawn letters, crazy collage things, design shortcuts I would never have imagined.
Later I started buying LPs and that is where things started to fall into place. I decided to undertake design studies, went to Paris and started, like everyone else I guess, to tinker with pictures for me, in my crib. I moved to Lille on a whim, some 11 years ago. I found my first employment as a graphic designer in a big advertising agency. But I had been traveling a lot before that and I longed travelling again, so much. So I saved all the money I could and quit it all in 2009. Bought me a one-way ticket and flied alone to Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. I stayed there a couple of months, partied so much in Kazanchis, raved down the city day and night. Damn, I loved being there !
Ultimately, I headed north and took my time to reach the Southern Sudanese border. I stayed another couple of months in mighty Sudan, then I kept on travelling through Egypt, the Red Sea coast, the Lybian border, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, as far as the Afghan border. Most of these beautiful countries ended up torn apart by wars, partitioned and buried hopes for so many years. I stayed a couple of months in each country, it was absolutely fantastic. I slept outside in the mountains in Iran, I met so many amazing people. Then I headed back to France, hitchhiking, taking buses, donkeys, whatsoever till I got back to Lille. That experience defined my life goals and nourishes my creativity up to this day.
I have a weird attraction to Africa. Can’t really explain it myself. Later I also travelled to Cape Verde, Nigeria, Togo, etc. This is where I started getting more and more into African music. I got totally amazed by the sleeves, the design, the boldness and, most of all, by the way they were actually done: hand drawn letters, crazy collage things, design shortcuts I would never have imagined. I got a grip on that. It really influences my way of thinking my design process. I want to be even more radical with it, unfortunately the business does not necessarily allows such boldness : timing does not often allows analogic creations, colors have to be replaced in a click, letters shall be displaced, changed, the headliner wants his name bigger, etc. What every graphic designer has to deal with, in a nutshell.
– You designed a lot of records covers and event posters. What are your favorite projects ?
Yes, that’s true and I think that is both a great chance and a serious necessity as well. For me, graphic design is tied with music. I discovered both simultaneously as a kid. One cannot really work without the other. I sometimes fear to be doing one sole thing. I love working on very different subjects with very different needs, clients, expectations, etc. For instance I created the logo for an indie basketball retailer named Macadam Basket in Rennes. That was in 2007 and since then I have been working with them on all their marketing items: prints, ads and even their website. The new one is in progress now by the way. I love doing this kind of images too.
But yes, sometimes I think I should call myself a poster designer or an illustrator to be accurate, even if I don’t really care about labels. But what I cherish the most is being asked to design record covers. Imagining the object, how one shall handle it, this absolute kick when you crack the blister, open it, pull out the inner sleeve, discover the labels. The deep bold blackness of the wax, the colors that contrasts.
The small 7 inch I designed for Hot Casa’s DjeuhDjoah & Lieutenant Nicholson is one of my favorites. But I love all the record covers that I designed actually. Working with Guts and Heavenly Sweetness on two K.O.G releases was so cool. The covers I made with Antoine Rajon and Buda Musique were also great memories. I’m lucky. I love the music I am asked to design for.
– You are also known as Abdulpipo. Can you tell me about your passion for music?
To be honest, I don’t even remember why this very nickname. Surely because I love the way it sounds, and mainly because it is kinda absurd. [laughs] As I said earlier, music and design come together for me. I have been digging and purchasing records for nearly two decades now. I met Ango & Skevitz (DJs as SupaGroovalistic) in Lille around 2014, and started collaborating with them. They organised gigs and asked me to conceive the posters, the flyers, etc. We ended up sharing the same workspace, we still are. Three years ago we had all these talks about creating a web radio, which they ultimately did by launching Comala Radio. I started spinning records with them occasionally, though I have no technical skills at all. I just love selecting tracks and get my records out. I only play vinyls out of my personal collection.
– How did you deal with the recent covid-19 lockdown ?
Well, that is a topic indeed. Politics apart, having a three years old daughter wasn’t the easiest part but we had the chance to have this amazing weather all along. I played with her, took time to relax, work in the garden, just breath. I even started setting up a painting atelier in my basement. I don’t think it will really be liveable in winter but as for now, it is an important thing for me. I really need going back to personal works such as painting.