Ladies of Techno

A local group went underground to find their sound and found a scene needing definition. Bringing feminism and epic beat drops, they guided underground rave & electronic culture in a midwestern city for 7 years.


Designing Danger

A poster for the band

Aggressively Sexy with intelligence and attitude, maybe a little gothic.

Boy-o-hazard is an all-female, electro-pop-punk electronica and DJ group. Their sound is akin to The Chemical Brothers or The Crystal Method., maybe even a bit of Die Antwoord (though this last one is more in act and presence than perhaps sound). They began in the central midwest, mixing at local bars until they hit, and eventually revitalize, the underground rave scene in St. Louis. With these venues they were better able to explore their music by mixing live, and independently choosing sounds and beats without fitting venue manager desires. They were, however, without a visual voice as it were, and I was approached to create their identity.

Their original name was simply Boy Hazard, and in the initial Discovery Meeting their public persona and attitudes were discussed as highlighted. The group is very personable, kind, and professional, yet they are rowdy and rebellious in their performances. It was my distinct flair for puns, and word play allowed the meeting to focus on presenting their dangerous or toxic persona visually outside of venues. Boy-o-Hazard became an agreeable name change, and immediately conjured the internationally recognized/standardized symbol. It may have also helped communication (and possibly daddy issues) in the meeting that I’m a fountain of dumb dad jokes.

The electronic music genre has always been a favorite, but in grasping for inspiration for the end visual I looked to woman-fronted, or women only, groups across multiple genres. 90s bands like Hole and Garbage came to mind, but especially the women group in their own genre: Lords of Acid. While I haven’t designed too much of their album art, I’ve designed the main visual of the identity and that is to stay consistent throughout media representation. The group played anywhere they could: parking lots, warehouses, abandoned clubs, even caves miles from the city of their origin.

Femininity and Edge

Sometimes as a designer, the approach deliberately avoids the obvious references and interpretations. This case was different because there needed to exist a representation power, specifically: Girl Power. Tying that in with a classic and recognized symbol of danger that would immediately register was too clear to pass up. Further development of feminine attributes to the standard symbol are inspired by the underground fashions and aesthetics of venues they group not only frequented but helped reinvigorate. This was not an opportunity to force over sexualized or degrading references of femininity into the logo, but to stay true to the band’s representation of scene and style. The female form references also needed to allow the standard biohazard symbol to remain largely uncontaminated (see what I did there?).

An image for the album release

Warning, infectious douchbaggery ahead.

Caution: Brainstorming

One of the things can happen when pursuing a design to it’s ending clarity, is the temptation to over do visual treatments when the initial form comes together quickly. There were variations on the framing of the design and it’s presence, but I discovered I was avoiding any further alteration to the new form of the biohazard symbol I created. The variations were basically applying various styles and deciding whether or not I liked it enough to save it. The outcome of this click and save type of brainstorming was the decision to leave well enough alone.

Variations on a theme

This is what happens when you throw Illustrator styles at a logo.

Further variations on a theme

More examples of applying Illustrator styles en masse

An Album Cover

Every band has a seminal album, so as a kind of ‘proof of concept’ I created images inspired by the ideas of contamination and disease. As I tell my design students, I’m aware no one really buys CDs anymore, but I wanted to display to the band some print savvy and persistence the logo can have. Additionally, based on the inspiration of all the caution signs I’d been reviewing, I created a poster akin to such signs. During the Discovery Meeting, the name of the album was also discussed. To further reinforce the group’s attitude, ‘Ebrola’ was arrived at as a blend of the obvious ‘ebola’ and ‘bro’. Again, my play on words was welcomed as ‘sick dude’.

Album art

Front, back and CD album art

BoyOhazarD Whereabouts Unknown

Share if interested