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BOTW Interview: Oliver Wilde

With his debut full-length, A Brief Introduction to Unnatural Lightyears, quietly shuffling its way to being one of this summer’s most promising indie – in the truest sense of the word – records, Bristol-based ‘dad rocker’ Oliver Wilde appears to be on to a really great thing. Here, he tells Alex Cull about his recording and sampling processes, dream festival line-ups and how a follow-up may already not be so far away.

PlanetNotion: It seems as though there’s been a steady head of hype building up ahead of A Brief Introduction…’s release. Has that impacted at all on how you’ve approached writing and recording the album or do you not let it affect you?
Oliver Wilde: Not at all, I enjoy all forms of criticism: good and bad. The various interpretations and misinterpretations. But no, I don’t care either way.

PN: If you had to sum up the album in one sentence-long capsule, what would it be?
OW: Glitch tinsel, dad rock, sit-down classic.

PN: Bristol’s had a great indie scene in recent years (thanks in a large part to your label, Howling Owl), who are you particularly rating out of your fellow Bristolians and why?
OW: I love The Naturals, The Fauns, Towns, Olo Worms, Spectres, Velcro Hooks, Let’s Kill Janice, Scarlet Rascal, GuMM, Idles, Kitchenettes and Me, You and Thomas. There are loads of great bands and labels in Bristol. Why? They all make for a healthy music scene that I am proud to be a part of and although I call it a “music scene”, each band has their own sound and could all individually transcend Bristol. I get a good portion of my music needs met from the comfort of my own city.

PN: You’ve always taken a very hands-on, proactive approach when it comes to collecting sounds and samples. What’s the strangest sound you’ve ever captured?
OW: It’s not like I just go out with a microphone and start recording rivers or anything like that. I carefully calculate the sounds from my head and use any knowledge of music and sound to recreate them by any means possible. Most of the time it all happens in my flat.

The strangest sound I’ve ever captured is probably not that strange at all, I record the sound of tape players with run-out batteries slowing down and things like that, but nothing like an empty tin falling from a ledge and landing on dry leaves.

PN: On the subject of samples, where did you find the little piece of audio that rings out at the very end of ‘Twin’? What is it?
OW: It’s a recording of people singing on early primitive recording equipment that I found on an American copyright-free archives website. They are singing a traditional Scottish song – I think – that I’ve reversed and treated with various effects.

PN: Live you incorporate a lot of visuals/projections into proceedings, was there any particular inspiration to do this? What do you feel about the music you produce lends itself well to visual accompaniment?

OW: My brother is a filmmaker and has made a series of short films all shot on an old super 8 camera. These he then cut together, along with a music video he made for a track off the record, and edits them into a 50-minute film for us to play in front of. I find the grain and lo-fi visual feel of super 8 camera reflects the grain and lo-fi sound of the audio: a perfect marriage.

PN: Have you got much planned outside of the album for the rest of the year?
OW: I’ve begun recording the follow-up record and, as a result of a recent spate in hospital, I’ve had the time to begin writing a third. I’m also going to do a select few shows to support the record, but I do need to take it a little easy.

PN: Are you heading to many festivals over the summer? If so, is there anyone you’re particularly keen on catching?
OW: Unfortunately not, I’m afraid. Primavera would have been nice though, or the Deerhunter ATP.

PN: If you could curate your own festival, who would your three dream headliners be and why?
OW: Alive: Grandaddy, The Flaming Lips and Bright Eyes.

Dead: Sparklehorse, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake.

I could probably write a book on why these would be my headliners, but really it’s just because these bands are my heroes.

PN: Finally, it’s your last night on Earth and you can have one meal, one beverage and one record for company: what do you choose?
OW: Fajita wraps, apple juice and Queens of the Stone Age‘s Songs for the Deaf.

- Alex Cull

A Brief Introduction to Unnatural Lightyears is available from July 22 on Howling Owl. You can pre-order it here.

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