Cosmo Sheldrake

"My videos are like tiny windows into these other worlds"

Mandy Sharabani ,

As London Calling is coming up end of the month, we're bringing you a London Calling feature introducing fresh new sounds as a warm up for the festival. Cosmo Sheldrake is a multi-instrumentalist and wonderkid from London. As a composer and a producer, he explores different worlds of inspiration. We talked about his adventurous collecting of sounds and translating them into musical collages.

Genre: Collage
Skype Location: At home, London
Last record you've listened to: Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain

Music Journal
Multiple sounds that I use in my music are things that I recorded live. I did a lot of field recording, these sounds I encounter: it's my way of journaling. It's similar to taking photographs. The process starts with collecting organic sounds and making instruments out of them. They mostly come from life, rather then generating sounds. Some of my favorites samples are an Armenian duduk instrument I once recorded in a pub. Or these slates smashed up a mountain in Wales, I use those for a lot of snare drum sounds. It's basically recontextualizing sounds of the world.

The reason why I choose different locations for my videos is because it's a way of telling a simultaneous story. Documenting and framing an every day moment or process in a different way and light. For example in my video “Prefusify“ the tune is loop based and repeating the idea. Therefore the music is suitable to the launderette and the washing machines spinning behind me. We've recorded the video “The fly” at a sustainable and traditional fishing boat. These fishermen are the last ones in England. My videos are like tiny windows into these other worlds. I've been into the idea of transparency and allowing people to see my process. I like the idea of doing them live rather then making music videos.

I did a project where I composed music for a series of seven films for children that have been distributed in hospitals and hospices in England. Children that were seriously ill and rarely get to leave the hospital environment. The films are basically beautiful films of seasonal places like a sunset on a beach, or autumn in this beautiful forest in Sussex. They are very slow films trying to bring a tranquil experience of being outside in nature. I'd like to make something that feels like if you were there and transports you to those places. Also, it's easier for me to start making music from visual material and a narrative, rather then start from nothing.

At the moment I love blackbirds. For me there there is something so beautifully melodic and musical about the way they sing. If you listen to them really carefully, you can hear call and responses and their conversations across. One of the blackbirds will say a particular thing, go off, comes back and say something else. Then the other blackbird will say the same thing. They have these musical motives that they are using with each other. Also I found out that if you bring a blackbird into isolation it's songs are rather boring. They learn it from their community, since it's a social thing. It could also be an art form, music is made through sharing and learning.

At the moment I'm doing a few projects. One of them is about the extinction and endangered sounds of species of animals. The other one is a project with a friend's choir. I really enjoy that because I used to be in a choir. We improvise singing with a big group, called circle singing. It's maybe similar to singing in a group of blackbirds, improvising by listening and reacting to each other within a community.

Showtime: Cosmo Sheldrake at London Calling, Paradiso Amterdam, April 25th.