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, classical, electronica, ambient
Occupationscomposer, producer
InstrumentsPiano, guitar, vocals, electronics
Years active2010–present
LabelsDecca Records, Universal Music

Erland Cooper is a Scottish composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist. He was born and raised in Stromness, Orkney. As an interdisciplinary artist, he has released eight acclaimed, solo studio albums, including a trilogy of work inspired by his childhood home, as well as themes of nature,[2] people, place and time. His work combines field recordings with classical orchestration and contemporary electronic elements.[3] Cooper also works across mixed media projects including installation art,[4] theatre[5] and film. He is a recipient of a Royal Television Society award and his music is played frequently on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 6 Music as well as featured on various TV network productions.

He is credited by Mojo Magazine with exploring the concept of psychogeography, connecting identity, memory, and place through music, words and cinematography. He explores these themes further by partnering with well-known artists and writers in his work and live shows.

In 2021 he buried the only existing copy of the master magnetic tape of his first classical album in Orkney, deleting all digital files and leaving only a treasure hunt of clues for fans and his record label alike to search for it.[6] He buried the tape in early spring 2021 and intended to retrieve and release it in 2024.[7] After a year and half in the soil, the tape was found in late autumn, September 2022 by two amateur sleuths[8]

Originally founding member of bands The Magnetic North and Erland and the Carnival with whom he has released five acclaimed studio albums, he has a diverse musical background. He owns a private recording studio in London which has become home to some of the UK's most acclaimed left field producers, artists, and mix engineers.

Music career[edit]

Erland and the Carnival[edit]

In 2009, Cooper 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]

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.[9] Formed in London, they released their debut album, Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North on 6 May 2012.[9][10] 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.[11] 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.[3]

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'.[12] The record was released on 24 May 2019 on Phases. [13] The album was included on the Scottish Album of The Year shortlist for 2020. [14]

In 2022, Cooper provided a soundtrack, Music For Growing Flowers, to the Superbloom wildflower meadow installation within the moat of the Tower of London.[15] The music has also been released as an album and a score.

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" and "The Derby Ram" collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams but he has also written for established artists like Paul Weller.


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
  • 2020: Hether Blether
  • 2021: Holm (Variations & B-sides)
  • 2021: The Island 1961
  • 2022: Music For Growing Flowers
Companion albums
  • 2018: Nightflight
  • 2020: Eynhallow
  • 2021: Never Pass Into Nothingness
  • 2021: Egilsay

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.
  • Monger, James Christopher. "Nightingale – Erland & the Carnival". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 January 2013.


  1. ^ a b Barkham, Patrick (8 January 2019). "nature's songwriter - Erland Cooper". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  2. ^ Burnside, John (15 April 2018). "'How a seagull, a short-eared owl and an oystercatcher have released an album'". New Statesman. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b Barkham, Patrick (8 January 2019). "'If it moves me to tears, I've achieved what I wanted': nature's songwriter Erland Cooper". Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  4. ^ On, Whats (8 January 2019). "'NEST London Borough of culture opening': NEST". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  5. ^ On, Whats (8 January 2019). "'portia-coughlan': portia-coughlan". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  6. ^ "'Composer buries album in Orkney':".
  7. ^ Guyoncourt, Sally (6 July 2021). "Erland Cooper buries only copy of new album, with fans urged to find it to be first to listen". Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  8. ^ Williams, Huw. "Erland Cooper: Musician's 'planted' tape found in Orkney". Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  9. ^ a b Tyler, Kieron (6 March 2012). "Interview & Video Exclusive: The Magnetic North". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  10. ^ Malone, Ailbhe (5 April 2012). "Indie bands get into the island life". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  11. ^ Fulton, Rick (19 July 2013). "Simon Tong reveals how Orkney's rugged landscape inspired his new band to create haunting debut album". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  12. ^ "Mary Anne Hobbs with slowthai". BBC. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Erland Cooper - Sule Skerry / Phases from Piccadilly Records". Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  14. ^ "SAY Award announces 2020 Shortlist". The List. 8 October 2020. Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  15. ^ "Superbloom: Music For Growing Flowers". Erland Cooper. 30 March 2022. Retrieved 5 September 2022.

External links[edit]