Jonathan Zawada x Flume ‘Tiddalik’ NFTs


When musician Flume and his longtime collaborator, visual artist Jonathan Zawada came across non-fungible tokens, lovingly known as NFT’s – they found themselves attracted to the freedom of the seemingly limitless artistic medium. 

We dive deeper into their collaboration for A Semi Permanent Hotel titled ‘Tiddalik’ and chat with Zawada about his creation of these ephemeral virtual pieces, his desire to celebrate Australia’s unique, natural landscape and what feelings he hopes to evoke with each piece. 

You have been a long time collaborator with Flume, what originally brought you together as artists? 

Flume’s record label, Future Classic, reached out to me when he was working on Skin and asked if I would be open to meeting up with him since he was in LA at the time. I wasn’t really doing any commercial work at this point, and was focusing solely on my personal art practice. But after meeting up with Flume and hearing what he was working on, I loved it and came on board to design the album cover. Our relationship grew from there, once we realised we were creatively motivated by a lot of similar things.

'Tiddalik' in room 307

What does the creative process look like for you both? Do you need to be in the same room/same space to make something this symbiotic or can a lot of the work be done remotely?

Despite coincidentally living in the same cities since we met (first LA and now northern NSW) we rarely spend all that much time together. His process of making music is so different from my process of making visual art, that it’s quite tricky to do it in tandem. My work tends to be quite slow, building something from the ground up and not really seeing any results for a number of days, whereas Harley (Flume) can play around with music and hit on ideas in real-time. We often spend a fair bit of time on the phone, or chatting in person about other things – about life and whatever we are interested in at the time and that tends to carry over into our separate creative processes.  Later we’ll reconvene and share what we’ve been up to and bounce around again.

What attracted you to working with NFT’s as an artist? Was it an intentional contrast to capture an organic object in this digital medium?

I’ve always been drawn to the organic and natural, both in my digital and non-digital practice for almost as long as I can remember. In terms of NFTs I think we were both just attracted to the freedom of a new medium of artistic expression that was unencumbered by any specific limitations. Harley (Flume) and I have both enjoyed exploring how sound and vision can be woven together but often one is given precedence over the other, or one is used as a way to market the other. NFTs are exciting because they exist as a way to explore ideas in such a pure form.

Bouquet Square

The story of Tiddalik is a classic to an Australian child, how heavily did this influence the group of works?

The story of Tiddalik really popped into my mind after the work was complete. We were discussing what the title could be and how we wanted it to feel distinctly Australian and familiar, without being too obvious. As Harley said, it should feel like it has come from your backyard. A lot of shared Australian culture for people of our generation can be quite kitsch, but as I was thinking about the floodwaters and the idea of being entertained to achieve progress – I remembered the Tiddalik story and it felt like such a perfect fit.

What ideas or feelings do you hope to evoke with each piece?

There’s a certain aesthetic quality to the Australian bush which is completely unique and really hard to capture or translate. Both Harley (Flume) and I had spent a fair while away from Australia, and when we came back we both found we had a deep appreciation for the rawness of the beauty here. It is often trapped in a different sort of lens and I think we were both keen to see if we could express it in a fresh way. There is something tough but also incredibly delicate about Australian fauna; they’re like rare jewels that pop up in such harsh surroundings.  Their existence is quite dynamic and perilous, they are also often overlooked or taken for granted and I think we were keen to try to capture all of those feelings in the works, both visually and musically.

Check out A Semi Permanent Hotel.

Check out Flume.

Check out Jonathan Zawada.