Visual aids

DIIV TAKEOVER: Zachary Cole Smith exclusively shares the artworks that inspired and appear on ‘Is The Is Are’
By Alex James Taylor | Music | 11 February 2016

Frederick Deming

This article is part of Takeovers

Top image: Artwork by Frederick Deming

To mark the release of DIIV’s second album, Is the Is Are, we’ve invited Zachary Cole Smith to take over HERO. Over the coming days, watch out for exclusive content and insights into the Brooklyn based musician’s influences, experiences and obsessions…

“Every great record, for me, and every record I make, I want it to be a world in its own, and you accomplish that with great art and a cohesive message.” Explained DIIV frontman Zachary Cole Smith in our recent interview with him.

More a tangible catalogue of thoughts, visuals and ideas than simply an album, DIIV’s second full-length release, Is the Is Are, opens up to reveal a world unto itself. A double LP, the record’s format allows for optimum engagement, standing as a monument to Smith’s current mindset. Handwritten lyrics sit amongst specially commissioned artwork as three artists take centre stage, Joji Nakamura, Hayato “Hyto” Kiyuna and Frederick Deming, decorating the record’s inner sleeves and creating a catalog of Smith’s creative relationships that is as informal and open ended as it is stylistically magnetic.

These are the covetable printed-matter prototypes for Smith’s holistic vision. Whilst his music creates a sonic vision in itself, it comes punctuated by visual markers, work that influenced the release and carve entrance points into an ambitiously singular aesthetic world.

Here we present an exclusive look at the artwork that features inside, and inspired, DIIV’s Is the Is Are

Frederick Deming
French artist Frederick Deming creating a series of poems and illustrations for the record’s inner sleeves. “I reached out to a poet/artist I found in Paris named Frederick Deming who I thought would totally understand where I was coming from.” Explains Smith. “His comics, called Bizaroids, seemed to totally fit with the direction I wanted to go with this album art and title. I felt like English being his second language would add another dimension to the poetry. Within a week, he sent me over thirty poems, and what he came up with couldn’t have been more perfect.

“A bunch of these are included in the album art, on the printed eurosleeves, hand-lettered by Frederick and superimposed on top of paintings by Joji Nakamura. The poem that I chose to take the album title from was the one I felt like fit the project the best:

Hear is their.
Story, we is you .
Is the is are.

I got this poem in an email from Frederick, and probably less than an hour after I got that email, I had already announced the album title. For me, this line just jumped off the page. I didn’t really have to think about it. I knew what I wanted, and this was it.”


Joji Nakamura
Born in 1974, Joji Nakamura currently lives and works in Yokohama, Japan. His abstract style of black and white painting is symbolic of the record’s aesthetic. Whilst in many ways it acts as a clean slate it comes with baggage, some positive, some negative, combined they create a narrative that moves in waves, jarring at times, these waves crash before melting away.





Hayato “Hyto” Kiyuna
Japanese artist Hayato “Hyto” Kiyuna created the record’s cover artwork. Working with colour illustrations and paintings he creates vivid worlds that intrigue and appeal to the viewer’s sense of fun and joy, whilst simultaneously holding darker sensibilities – much akin to Is the Is Are.



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