I have long wanted to do an interview for the blog, so when the opportunity arose to interview a great electronic musician I jumped at the chance. Here is the interview I had with CosmoMoose:
1. What got you into creating music?
Once, when I was at school (late 1980s), our music lesson homework was to compose some music. I found this strangely easy and enjoyable, with pleasing results. Eventually this turned into a composition project towards a music qualification. Two pieces on my latest album, ‘SunRise’ and ‘Organic Manoeuvre’, originate from this project. I’ve always had music in my head since I was young and as I’m answering this question there is some tune lurking in the background. I often feel that I do not compose music but I receive it from somewhere as if I am faintly listening to some radio station in my brain. It is my job to replicate what I hear in my head, which is the hard part! I am a Christian and feel very blessed that God has given me such a gift of creating music so naturally. Over the years I have written in many different music genres, including musical theatre, rock and children songs but instrumental electronic music is my first love!
2. Who are your Musical Influences?
My electronic music is mostly influenced by Jean-Michel Jarre and Vangelis. I like the way they paint sonic pictures and create moods and emotions with synthesizers which can, by nature, be cold clinical instruments. My upbeat music is also heavily influenced by 90s / ‘classic era’ dance/trance music. I also like the thematic concept of Daft Punk (two robots making music) and Kraftwerk who influenced my more robotic sounding songs such as ‘RoboDrama’ (which is like a dystopian response to Kraftwerk’s ‘The Robots‘). Outside electronics, I really like later romantic-era ‘classical’ music, particularly Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov. They use the orchestra to the full to paint tonal pictures and that’s the reason why my music often strays away from pure electronic instrumentation.
3. Do you use real instruments or just samples?
My CosmoMoose music is so far created using software synthesizers, loops and samples. My studio is my laptop which I often take on train journeys to and from my day job to create and edit music. You can see me on the early train with headphones on! On Cosmic Invasion, I used a lot of Theremin and Mellotron sounds but have never touched those instruments – nor Moog Synthesizers! My Moosetopia album uses African choirs but these are samples played on a keyboard as were the bird sounds, rainsticks and a bamboo flute on ‘Bamboo Forest’. The track ‘JiGiToN’ has an accordion lead melody but this is reworked from a sample library. Most interestingly, the female singer on ‘My Beautiful Day’ is actually software called Vocaloid Avanna. I type in the words and notes, add vibrato and expression and the software sings those note with those words. That really makes a train journey more fun! However, I am not adverse to real instruments. I recorded an album of kids songs in the past where I strummed guitar, played panpipes…and kazoo,,,,and even recorded a toilet flushing, as well as singing (in the loose sense of the word!)
4.What is your Favourite song and why?
My favourite is probably ‘Distant Longing’ (from Memories of Moosetopia) because it is pure expression; a song without words, from the heart. The song originated on the train on the way to work one day when I opened up my laptop (my portable studio) and I didn’t know what music to work on. So I thought I would just express how I felt at that time using a tiny 2-octave MIDI keyboard (connected via USB to the laptop). The piano line just came out naturally: simple, beautiful and melancholy. The English horn and strings just fell into place and the piece was complete relatively quickly, which is unusual as it can take weeks or months to complete a piece sometimes. Therefore, although there are more popular, groovier pieces like ‘Shooting Stars’ and ‘Get Funky’ it is this simple music of the heart that appeals most to me personally.
5. How do you release your music?
The simple answer is ‘badly’! I put so much effort into creating the music and artwork that by the time I come to release and promote it, I’m too exhausted to do it properly. So far, as CosmoMoose, I have released 2 albums and a single on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and my own website. I intend to release singles from the new album throughout 2016.
6. How do you create your album artwork?
My wife is a prolific photographer and I trawl through her photographs to find the right images and feel for my album artwork. Most of the photographs I chose were taken in my hometown of Dawlish, Devon, UK. I add graphics and logos, such as the light beam on the front of Cosmic Invasion (no, Dawlish didn’t really have a bright cosmic encounter!!) and I designed the moose-in-a-spacesuit character which appears on artwork.
7. Why Call yourself CosmoMoose?
I could have used my own name but this electronic music is soooo different from my previous work (kids songs, stage musicals etc)that it needed something new. So, I like mooses with their big noses and big antlers and “cosmo” is rather spacey like some of my music, so “CosmoMoose” was born. Also my initials are “CM”!
Here are some samples of Cosmo’s music found on Youtube.