Photo Credit: Laurie Payet
A note from Katy
On the 20th of March I had the pleasure of attending Erland Cooper’s album press launch of ‘Solan Goose’, held at Walthamstow Wetlands. I attended with my boyfriend, Jack and as we arrived at the venue it was already bustling with people. We had our names checked off, got a drink and went upstairs to the viewing platform. We later heard the album for the first time in the viewing platform, followed by a performance from Erland alongside Lottie Greenhow and Anna Phoebe. The atmosphere was intimate and emotional, and piece after piece Erland’s music touched the audience’s hearts, I even spotted a tear or two around the room.
Following that lovely evening, we had a chat with Erland about the meaning of his album, current plans and future events.
Hi Erland, how are you doing? Are you up to much at the moment?
Aye, fine thanks. I also work with quite a few other artists I like, if you get a chance, listen to Meadowlark’s cover of ‘May I have this Dance’ we just did or Radiohead’s ‘House of cards’ by Brooke Bentham. I’ve also contributed some music to the score of the new virtual reality thriller ‘Kiss Me First’ on Netflix which I think is good. Bryan Elsley who wrote the Skins series with his son is a genius and I think the casting is very good. I’ve written some songs with Paul Weller for his new record recently and I’ve also just finished building a new London studio. Choral music is something I am studying at the moment and re-amping or recording in ancient archaeological spaces – that’s something that’s always fascinated me. Those acoustics were designed thousands of years ago to carry human voices for ceremonial purposes – imagine 12 voices singing the Orcadian phrase “Haar” in a neolithic mound called Maes Howe… so I’m half way through the follow up to Solan Goose, working on it and it feels good, well interesting to me at least.
You recently released your debut album ‘Solan Goose’ – how does it feel to now have that album out in the wild?
I didn’t plan on releasing this as a commercial record. It was just for me to start with so it’s a good but a curious, precious feeling. It’s like seeing a fledgling bird trying to make it up in the air for the first time. It’s taken a brave leap off the cliffs and has just managed to fly as it shoots out to sea like an arrow. Continuing the metaphor here..! I hope it will fly around for a bit and come to land safely, before it sets off for years at sea to fish, find a mate and continue it’s migration to Europe, west Africa and the US..
What’s the meaning behind the title ‘Solan Goose’?
It is the largest sea bird in Orkney, the gannet in Orcadian dialect. The original cover image is a photo taken in the 60’s and has been in my childhood home in Orkney since I can remember, staring at my siblings and I disapprovingly.
Photo Credit: Chris Turner
Photo Credit: Alex Kozobolis
We came to your album press launch at Walthamstow Wetlands and thoroughly enjoyed it, so thank you for that. Did you enjoy playing those tracks live in that setting?
I’m thrilled you came. Yes. Often for me when recording, there are many layers in creating something really simple but for live, instead of immediately putting a full band together with guitar, string quartet, distorted bowed bass, Minimoog and all the components of the record, I wanted to create our own simple granular world or landscape but with as little moving parts as possible, so as to build on it later down the line. Charlotte, a little reluctantly at first, as it was against her classical training, played bowed glockenspiel, Hardanger violin and sang soprano, while the equally talented Anne Phoebe played violin and improvised harmonics. I simply played piano and tape loops and tried to bring us closer together, or as close to a hushed silence as possible. I think the evening was special, a one off and it was our first live performance, so again it felt like that fledgling bird. The setting at Walthamstow wetlands was beautiful and the team that pulled it together were so supportive, ambitious, as well as appreciative – it was also fun taking a piano into a wetlands centre, passing two geese on the way in. A good omen, and a great day.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Spillerova
Do you have a favourite track on the album? If so, why?
Cattle-face, the name is so literal. It describes the short eared owl. The simple, 3 part hardanger violin melody reminds me of my childhood more than any thing else, that and Tammie Norie which is my modest attempt at a Peter Maxwell Davies tune. Anne Marwick’s original interview & field recordings open the song, they just bring me back to Orkney with a jolt, especially when I hear the accent outside of the islands.
You’re playing at the St. Pancras Old Church in May, is that correct? Are there any more live shows in the works that we should keep an eye out for?
Yes, that’s going to be a good show I think. I hope it to be collaborative from Amy Cutler’s support to the last note. I want to try shows that subvert the normal expectations of my background and so folk spending their hard earned money actually get a unique show that we all enjoy, not just something nice. My manager Kirsteen is a master at visualising, realising and making ideas happen whilst always coming back to narratives, for instance those themes of landscape, nature, restoration and redemption. I hope it will feel like a wider, more collaborative event than just a gig by another artist.
Guitarist and friend, Simon Tong taught me to always create my own little world and hopefully bring people into that. Those that do will stay until closing time and join me to the edge of the world. See you there I hope.
Photo Credit: Laurie Payet