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BOTW Moodboard: Oliver Wilde

From cult children’s TV show Mr. Benn through to Guided By Voices‘ trashy songwriting brilliance, Bristol’s Oliver Wilde has a lot to shout about when it comes to the things that inspire him. Ahead of his debut album, A Brief Introduction to Unnatural Lightyears, seeing release on Howling Owl Records this month, the Wiltshire-born musician talks us through the audio and visual stimuli that have made him the man he is today.

1. Mark Linkous

“I would be insulting myself to try and describe how much this man I have never met means to me, so I won’t. I will just say that Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) has made some of my favourite moments, lyrics, sounds and albums in music that I will ever experience on earth. In the same way that people say there is someone for everyone in a romantic sense, they may search their whole lives and possibly never find that person, but when they do, they will be complete forever: an unexplainable connection, the planets align. This is what happened between me and Sparklehorse. I have been searching and exploring through as much music as I could for as long as I can remember to find the perfect music that I didn’t even know existed until I herd Sparklehorse. I mean I love Grandaddy, Mercury Rev, Elliott Smith etc, but it’s the perfect combination and balance of the elements of Sparklehorse that make it this important. Here is a beautiful track from Good Morning Spider called ‘Sunshine’, I could never choose a favourite song.”

2. Werner Herzog: An Eye For Characters

Werner Herzog is a super hero: he saved Joaquin Pheonix‘s life, he was shot during an inerview with Mark Kemode, he has starred in two Harmony Korine films and has made over 70 films, some of which are the greatest documentaries ever made. I love his films but I have managed to be musically inspired by this visual artist.

One of the best things about every Werner Herzog documentary is the accidental capturing of incredible characters, central or peripheral. When something is inspiring me lyrically or musically, I put my Werner Herzog head on and explore the inspiration until I have captured as much as possible to make a song rich in character. All his documentaries have a central story line (I’m no film student) often beneath a veil of tragedy. This is what I enjoy as a massive fan of documentaries about abnormal, but very real-life stories. However, it’s all the little characters, spontaneity and accidents that are met along the way that I try to adapt to the process of creating music.”

Oliver’s Top Three Herzog Documentaries:
1. White Diamond
2. Encounters at the End of the World
3. Wings of Hope

3. Simple Kid: Bedroom Recording

“Though our sounds and styles are very different, it is in the process in which Simple Kid records that I take my influence. A friend of mine showed me how to route a 4-track and stereo tape deck out to my little interface to my computer. The idea of having a mechanical or physical analogue recording taking place before reaching the digital world of the computer hugely appealed to me. Apart from having a nice sound, it is fun to experiment with old Walkmans, little Sony cassette recorders and have had a big impact on my sound. Simple Kid also mixes and masters all his own records which is something I do, he is an unsung producer and one of my favourite produced pieces of music ever is ‘Love is Enigma’ from the first record, beautiful on great speakers.”

4. Robert Pollard: Lo-Fi Music

Robert Pollard is one of my musical heroes. I came across Guided By Voices through my love for Daniel Johnston, R Stevie Moore and other lo-fi music. I couldn’t believe people were saying it sounded terrible. I love old big band composer music like Arti Shaw and Tommy Dorsey, not just because I love their compositions and performances but the sound quality of their music, I loved the idea that at a time in history, this would be the best these recordings could ever sound, and it was such a warm, rich and classic movie sound that I wanted to recreate. I have always rejected the notion that music has to sounds crisp and textbook perfect, no art has to be perfect and crisp to be moving or influential. When I heard early Guided By Voices, Silver Jews and Sonic Youth records, I noticed the sound first and then the songs. A great example of this sound, and a great song in its own right, is the classic ‘Game Of Pricks’ from Alien Lanes.”

5. Glitch Music: The Sound of a Compact Disc Skipping

“For me, in music one of the most liberating sounds was the sound of a broken CD player skipping. There are moments in music that may only last a second or two and you end up breaking your finger rewinding it to hear it over and over again. It wasn’t until I recorded an entire song only to like about a second of music within it, I cut it into a tiny sample and then just repeated it for six minutes and then recorded an entirely new song over the top. When the MySpace explosion happened, one of the choices of genre was “Glitch” and so I put that in my description, I then found that other artists were experimenting with this sound all over the place. One of my favourite pieces of music in existence is ‘Sleep Dealer’ by Oneohtrix Point Never, a great example of this sound being used to perfection.

6. Howling Owl Records: Chosen Family

“I have been so comfortable in my isolated cycle of making music: hand crafting 50 copies with my brother and then giving them to my friends where they sit on their shelves and collect dust until they have a proper clear-out. Then, I began finishing tracks and dumping them on Soundcloud so the plan to release anything seemed impossible. I didn’t think anyone would want to hear it and I did (and still do) record music for my own therapy. Howling Owl is Adrian Dutt and Joe Hatt, they are the god parents of my music. They have created something truly wonderful for the people who have always needed it. Their bands are incredible, they are fantastic people and whether or not the scene exists or is necessary, I am so, so sure that a lot of important music will come out of that label. It’s this reverence of their ideology and well-peeled ear that gave me the confidence to give my most precious produce to them. Listen to all their bands, you will be happy.”

7. Mr. Benn: At the Roots of Everything

Mr. Benn is a children’s TV program that began the big bang of my imagination as a child. It was written and animated by an Englishmen called David McKee and it may just be my earliest memory, having my mind blown by this surreal, psychedelic dreamland that these tales existed in. The general plot of each episode was about this man who lived in a little terrace house in London who’d wake up, mosey on down to the party outfit shop, try on a costume, walk though a door and turn into whatever it is he has dressed up as. He then appears in a world for some kind of heroic deed where he makes lots of friends and after all is well again and he has saved the day, he makes his way to a magical door that appears and when he walks into it, he’s back in the costume shop and potters off home. Imagine that to a little child who likes to pretend to be a spaceman and a cowboy, it is the breeding ground for imagination and dreaming.”

8. Bill Hicks: The Funny Side

Bill Hicks never used comedy to make light of the subjects he attacked, he used comedy to get them to a much wider audience in a medium that is pleasurable to experience. A true satirist and social commenter, Bill Hicks was able to use his art form to hide in plain sight, a much deeper message about justice, freedom and life – how can that not be inspiring? There is also a small part of me that is proud Bill Hicks was far better received in Britain than America for a portion of his career. The British sense of humour is based on being able to laugh at ourselves and our shame, this is what Bill Hicks preyed on and we were only too happy to hear what he had to say about his vision of his home country America.”

- 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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