Ever since we first featured Cosmo Sheldrake back in 2014, I've always found the UK multi-instrumentalist one of the most awesomely bizarre figures in the music scene. I find the sounds he creates is rather unique in their own way, drawing influences from genres all across the universe. It's playfully amusing.
He recently releases his debut full-length album and I had the pleasure of talking with him about various aspects of music, recording process, the past, the future and what not. Enjoy!
What would be the most accurate description of who you are & what you do (when it comes to music)? A composer? A music anthropologist? A guy who likes musical collages... or something else?
I don’t really know, maybe a composer, a producer, and someone who likes musical collages?? its a hard thing to answer. I guess I have lots of different interests that somehow work their way into the music.
Your debut full-length album The Much Much How How & I was released earlier this month. It feels very... burlesque (not sure if I can find a better word right now). How would YOU describe it with a single word?
I am not sure I would be able to describe it in a single word. I really don’t know where i would start. Its the sort of thing that you could describe in one word but only in German as they can just string words together to make composite words. Ill ask a german friend and get back to you.
How did the recording process looked like? I know it took you nearly 3 years - was it all clear in your head or things unveiled slowly as time went by?
It very much emerged as it went along. It feels like a composite of everything I listened to, read ate and otherwise consumed during the time i was making it. It slowly became clearer as time went by.
You worked with Matthew Herbert (Björk) - how different was that experience compared to your previous experiences?
It was lots of fun. we spent two weeks together mixing it at his studio which i thoroughly enjoyed. It has its struggles too, as mixing anything with anyone can be traumatic as you have to let go of the thing you have spent sooooooo long making and allow someone else to dig into it. But I think he was well suited for the job as he is familiar with using sounds that are not just instruments recorded in a studio and I also feel like he got what i was trying to do.
Do you ever stumble upon writer's block and how do you deal if/when this happens?
All the time. I read something or listen to something or get out of the studio and go for a walk, or cook elaborate meals. something about cooking is satisfying as there is a definite end to the process and then you eat the food, Whereas with music making often these things go on and on and feel endless and impossible to finish.
If you could choose the perfect setting for your fans to "consume" the album for the first time, where/what would that be?
I think that would have to depend on the person. Everyone has a different way and best place for listening to music. But ideally in a space where they can zone into it and listen through the whole thing.
How many instruments do you actually play? If you could choose only one, which one would it be and why?
Its hard to say as I play a good few but to differing degrees. I collect instruments and have lots, and try to consider them like families of coordination. I can play some enough to record parts with and others enough to jam with people and others not that much. But the piano is my first instrument and the one I feel the most free with. So if there was to just be one it would probably be the piano.
Who are the artists you look up to, especially when it comes to creativity?
There are lots of them, hmmmm. I think Bobby Mcferrin would have to be one, he is an inspiring humble man who has a deep connection to music as a spiritual practice and is a fantastic improviser. Moondog would be another as he makes so many idiosyncratic things and all so different. Bjork would be another as I admire the way she pieces projects together and collaborates so broadly.
Mr. Jukes did a remix for your track. Are you guys personal friends? Any plans for you and Jack to work together in the future?
We are friends, we went to school together and lived together for a while. I am working on a remix of one of his tunes at the moment. It would be fun to do something together in a more formal way. We shall see.
What's next after The Much Much How How & I - extensive touring and... next record? Or you feel somehow satisfied right now when it comes to what you've released?
I have lots of little projects I would like to release also. Little experiments and studies and things which would be nice to put out. And then slowly get back to work on putting together another album of some kind also.
What's your non-music related activity to do?
I do a lot of cooking and fermenting foods, making pickles and sour kraut and kimchi and stuff. I have also just got into embroidery since being in mexico, and I love doing collages and bookbinding and things like that.
If you could say something to the Cosmo Sheldrake 3 years ago, before he started recording the album - what would that be?
Thanks for the interview! Any famous last words?
Many thanks to you too.