Erland Cooper interview

Erland Cooper interview

Orcadian musician and composer Erland Cooper was in Orkney recently, and I had the chance to interview him for The Orkney News before he warmed up for upcoming live performances.

I was keen to catch up with Erland because of some of the interesting creative decisions he has made, such as burying the a tape copy of his first orchestral composition in the ground after deleting the digital masters. This type of high-concept musical experimentation reminded me of the work of Bill Drummond, who, along with Jimmy Cauty of the KLF / Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, famously burned a million pounds, machine-gunned the audience at the Brit awards, announced their departure from the music business, and withdrew their entire catalogue from sale. As you will hear in the interview, there is in fact a connection.

The interview was recorded prior to a programme on BBC Radio 3, featuring Erland, about the poet George Mackay Brown. I was asked to make the interview available before the programme aired. This presented a challenge for me as it meant I had to record and edit the interview in a single day, on top of which I had only around 5 minutes of film footage to work with (shot by Alex Kozobolis). Under the circumstances I am pleased with how it turned out.

The interview can be viewed on the Orkney News YouTube channel, or in the embedded player below:

I greatly enjoyed speaking to Erland and would like to thank him for doing this interview. Thanks too to Alex Kozobolis and Samuel Davies who provided the film and photographs of Erland. I supplemented these with some photos of my own to illustrate some of the places in Orkney Erland was describing.

A screen-print by my late father Keith Laird had come up in conversation before recording began, and can be seen below (and also in the book Rebel Orkney).

Yesnaby, screenprint by Keith Laird, 1973.
Yesnaby. Screenprint by Keith Laird, 1973.