Gawain Erland Cooper

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Erland Cooper
Erlandandthecarnival copyrightGalvin2009.jpg
Background information
Birth nameGawain Erland Cooper
Also known asErland Cooper
OriginOrkney, Scotland[1]
GenresAlternative rock, folk, folk rock, shoegazing, psychedelic rock, electronica, ambient
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, artist, composer, producer, mixer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals, piano, producer
Years active2009–present
LabelsFull Time Hobby, Phases
Associated actsErland & the Carnival, The Magnetic North

Erland Cooper is a Scottish multi-instrumentalist and producer originally from Stromness, Orkney. As a solo artist, he released the critically acclaimed album Solan Goose in 2018 on Phases.[2] He is also the frontman of British bands The Magnetic North and Erland and the Carnival, with whom he has released five critically acclaimed albums. Cooper was born and raised on the Scottish archipelago of Orkney and now owns a London recording studio, which has become home to some of the UK’s most acclaimed leftfield producers, artists and mixing engineers.

As the front man for British indie/folk rock band Erland & the Carnival he released three critically acclaimed albums with guitarist Simon Tong (Gorillaz, Blur, The Verve, The Good, the Bad & the Queen). The album Nightingale charted at No. 11 on the UK Indie Chart and the last album Closing Time featured collaborations with British artist Paul Weller and was recorded at Damon Albarn's studio 13.

Cooper also leads the collaborative band project The Magnetic North which blends orchestral arrangements, rock, and electronica. Under this moniker, he has produced 2 widely acclaimed albums in the UK & Europe and the band are credited with exploring the concept of psychogeography, connecting identity, memory and place through music and cinematography. They explore these themes further by partnering with well-known artists and writers in their live shows.

For the album launch of The Magnetic North's second album The Prospect Of Skelmersdale, Cooper co-curated the first ever band gig at Royal Institute of British Architects with a multimedia event combining psychogeography, architecture and cinematography. He collaborated with artists including award-winning writer Amy Liptrot,[3] writer and broadcaster Laura Barton, John Grindrod and artist Bill Drummond, choosing writers and artists from the art and literary worlds rather than musicians in the support slot.

Early life[edit]

Cooper was born and raised on the Scottish archipelago of Orkney.[1] He was raised with six siblings on the small islands by his parents, describing it as a remote yet creative place to grow up. He left aged 18 to travel, seeing locations like London, New York and Edinburgh.[1] Cooper spent years studying Bert Jansch and Davey Graham, sourcing old British songs from the Vaughan Williams Museum near where he resided, and developing his writing skills.[1] Cooper is well known for his contemporary arrangements of traditional Scottish and English folk songs, resulting in a "wild pastiche of digital trickery and oral tradition that channels the spirit of '70s progressive rock while staying true to pop-song brevity".[4]

Music career[edit]

Erland and the Carnival[edit]

In 2009 he co-founded the band Erland and the Carnival in London with multi-instrumentalist Simon Tong (formerly of The Verve, Blur and The Good, the Bad & the Queen) and drummer/engineer David Nock (The Orb, The Cult, The Fireman, David Gilmour, Paul McCartney).[1]

In 2010 they released their critically acclaimed eponymous debut album, and a year later released Nightingale, which earned 4/5 stars from Allmusic. Nightingale charted at No. 21 on the UK Indie Chart.

The Magnetic North[edit]

In 2011 Cooper co-founded the British shoegaze band The Magnetic North with Simon Tong and singer, composer and orchestral arranger Hannah Peel.[5] Formed in London, they released their debut album, Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North on 6 May 2012.[5][6] Cooper said that the inspiration for the album came from an appearance of long dead Betty Corrigall in one of his dreams, insisting that he wrote an album about his home.[7] This theme is currently being developed into a stage production.

Solo career[edit]

Cooper released his debut solo album Solan Goose, heavily influenced by native Orcadian birds, on 23 March 2018. The album is the first of a triptych that reflects on the natural world surrounding Orkney, with its tracks each taking their titles from Orcadian dialect words for birds.[2]

Cooper announced the release of the second album in the triptych, Sule Skerry, via Mary Anne Hobbs's BBC Radio 6 Music show on 21 February 2019, where she played the lead single, 'Haar'.[8] The record will be released on 17 May 2019 on Phases.

Writing credits[edit]

Cooper is best known for his contemporary arrangements of traditional Scottish and English folk songs, including most notably "Love Is a Killing Thing", "East and West" and "The Derby Ram" collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Cooper has also scored and produced music for TV & Film. His Marie Curie Daffodil advertisement won two British arrow awards and he won the RTS award [9] for the theme music to the C4 show Dates. With Simon Tong he scored the independent motion picture Rufus which received two Canadian screen award nominations, and his music featured in the UK film The Great Hip Hop Hoax. Credits also include music for US TV shows including Bones (TV series), Ringer (TV series) and Roadies (TV series) and UK TV shows including Hollyoaks, Made in Chelsea and Match of the Day as well as on leading ad campaigns from Citizen, Livestream to Alzheimer's Research UK.


With Erland & the Carnival[edit]

Studio albums

With Magnetic North[edit]

Studio albums
  • 2012: Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North
  • 2016: Prospect of Skelmersdale

As a solo artist[edit]

Studio albums
  • 2018: Solan Goose
  • 2019: Sule Skerry
Companion albums
  • 2018: Nightflight

Other recordings[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Erland & The Carnival Interview". Under the Radar. 21 February 2011.
  • "Erland & The Carnival: Question in the Form of an Answer". Passion of the Weiss. 31 March 2011.
  • "Erland & the Carnival: TAS Interview". The Alternate Side. 31 March 2011. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014.


  1. ^ a b c d e Valish, Frank (21 February 2011). "Erland & The Carnival – Psychedelic Folk Dreams". Under the Radar. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Barkham, Patrick. "'If it moves me to tears, I've achieved what I wanted': nature's songwriter Erland Cooper". Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  3. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Nightingale – Erland & the Carnival". Allmusic. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b Tyler, Kieron (6 March 2012). "Interview & Video Exclusive: The Magnetic North". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  6. ^ Malone, Ailbhe (5 April 2012). "Indie bands get into the island life". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  7. ^ Fulton, Rick (19 July 2013). "Simon Tong reveals how Orkney's rugged landscape inspired his new band to create haunting debut album". dailyrecord. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Mary Anne Hobbs with slowthai". BBC. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  9. ^ "RTS Craft & Design Awards".

External links[edit]