30 Seconds interview: Oliver Coates

OlivercoatesforwebOliver Coates is a cellist whose musical projects bring the sometimes opposing worlds of classical and contemporary music closer together.

His CV shows how he’s a musician as comfortable collaborating with the likes of Massive Attack, DOOM and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood as much the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia.

A residency at London’s Southbank Centre saw Oliver curate Harmonic Series, featuring James Blake and Anna Meredith while he’s also worked with eclectic songwriter Micachu on her new film score for Under the Skin. It’s one of many projects that the two have locked horns over since first meeting. He also included a version of Boards of Canada track In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country, produced by Mira Calix, on the Warp 20th anniversary box set.

After so many projects, Oliver’s Towards the blessed islands is his debut album proper. It’ll be released on PRAH Recordings, the new initiative from Moshi Moshi founder Stephen Bass and shows off yet more strings to his, er, illustrious bow (ahem – sorry).

The cellist discarded the standard studio in favour of recording sessions in churches, tombs and disused oil rigs. Musically Oliver looks to the tunings dischord of Sonic Youth to inform the songs and the techniques from field recordist Chris Watson. It makes for an impressive and suitably ambitious move from a young musician whose short career has been full of them. The album is released on 2 December while we get to know Oliver below…  

I first started writing music because…
I like resonating spaces and the relationships people form with the patterns in music.

I have been making music since…
I saw a cello in someone’s house when I was six.

My music is…
An accumulation of atmospheres and warm sound.

You’ll like my music if you listen to…
Field recordings, Eliane Radigue, drone, old folk music, Sunn O))), Boards of Canada (perhaps), Bach, Shostakovich, Xenakis, Pärt.

My favourite venue is…
Gol Gumbaz tomb in Karnataka, India.

Music is important because…
It is free from tyranny of thought. No one is able to tell anyone else definitively what it means.

My biggest inspiration is…
This changes all the time. Most often it’s Amy my partner. Or Mike Nelson the British sculptor.

My dream collaboration would be…
Elizabeth Fraser.

To try me out, listen to my song…
If calm, listen to The Room Is The Resonator (Dave Fennessy is the composer). Or emotional listen to Another Day. Or angry listen to Kottos to hear the cello dig sound out of the earth.

If I wasn’t making music I’d be…
Struggling to find the right words.

In 10 years time I want to be…
Living in the present.

www.olivercoates.com

www.prahrecordings.wordpress.com