Interview: Matthew Cooper (Eluvium)

First of all – how are you?

Very well thank you. Enjoying the Cascadia summer.

How did you find the US/Canada tour?

Being my first headlining full tour, it was really wonderful to see so many people coming out specifically for Eluvium. It was a great success, though admittedly very exhausting – being away from my wife for 5 weeks wasn’t easy.

How well do you think the music works in the live setting?

I think it translates quite well actually – it’s definitely a different vibe than the recorded works. I generally try to push the envelope a bit for live performance. It’s nice to have the opportunity to really try and fill a room and get the music to vibrate in people’s chests. For this tour particularly we were doing a lot of stuff from Similes, so it was a little more straightforward than previous live concerts have been, but I still managed to find new ways to interpret the material and also make some room for noise.

You mentioned on your website that this tour would provide a “wholly new Eluvium experience”. What was new and different about the experience in comparison to previous live set-ups?

The main difference was being a trio instead of a solo act. I hired on a couple of friends to perform with me and decided to take the “pop” style into a more playful direction than on the album, by using different instrumentation as well as using live manipulation techniques. For instance, using Wii remotes to sample and affect all the various sounds being created on the fly.

Have you found it easy to incorporate your vocals into the performance?

Quite a lot easier than I was expecting, though we had plenty of time for rehearsals and fine tuning before the tour.

What environment works best for you when writing music?

An empty yet courageous mind, a windy day and a sense of exploration. So many things collaborate to create a certain mental environment or mood in which sounds come to me. But ultimately, in a more technical sense of the question, I like working alone in my home studio.

A few questions on “Similes”. What made you decide to include vocals and percussion on the new record?

An itch that needed scratching, quite frankly. I like having the freedom to do whatever it is I feel like doing, and I feel this is the best way to make honest music that I will be proud of and that other people will be able to truly relate to. To make something I’ve made before feels redundant and bores me a bit. For me to work within a musical context that I feel I’ve already explored there needs to be a strong underlying emotional need for it, or a purpose beyond knowing that people will like it because they liked the other one just like it that I did. Nonetheless I am feeling, currently, a need to explore some things that are reminiscent of past things I’ve done. It’s sort of laughable at how much I instinctively rebel against the last thing I’ve done album-wise, but it really is just following my heart in the end.

Has the inclusion of these new features affected the way you approach composition?

Not necessarily because of these features themselves, but I think everyone learns something new after each thing they do – and of course, probably feels a need to explore this new found wisdom in their next endeavor.

What topics are covered in the lyrics?

It’s pretty much about a person sitting emotionlessly on the line between two different forms of existence, watching them both unfold, become entangled confusingly with each other, and thinking about the concept of thinking, and ultimately choosing the safer of the two existences out of fear of losing control, and what that could lead to on an emotional and concrete level as well as on a more metaphysical level…I think…

For how long have you been singing? Were you tempted to include vocals on any Eluvium releases prior to “Similes”?

I’ve been singing since i was a teenager, but I’ve yet to be interested in vocals on an Eluvium release until this release.

What artists are you listening to at the moment?

ARP, Owen Pallet, Benoit Pioulard, Roedelius, Loren Dent, Tim Hecker, Balmorhea…I’m kind of liking that Wild Nothing record. I haven’t really had the time to explore a lot of music right now as I’ve been mostly engaged in working on new material, so I’ve mostly been listening to and thinking about that.

What’s next for Eluvium?

I’m working on several different projects right now. Nothing is concrete at the moment, but I’m looking to release the soundtrack to “Some Days Are Better Than Others” pretty soon – my first full length motion picture soundtrack – as well as a couple of smaller short run things. I’m working on a thing with Peter Broderick right now, as well as a 10inch for Cameron Crowe’s label, Vinyl Films. Otherwise, just slowly working towards another full length or two. I might be revisiting the album I scrapped before Similes, which is something in realm of long form orchestration. Oh – some singles are coming out this year as well with some unreleased tracks on them and remixes and stuff.

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