Laura Cannell draws on the emotional influences of the landscape and the sometimes dissonant chords of early and medieval music. With deconstructed bow and double recorders, Laura performs semi-composed, semi-improvised pieces which explore the spaces between ancient and experimental music creating music that is rooted in but not tethered to the past. Next to having performed with Michael Gira, Thurston Moore, André Bosman and Charles Hayward at London’s Barbican, she has composed works for the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Laura Cannell’s upcoming performance at Digital in Berlin’s 10 Years in Sound Festival will be her Berlin debut.
1: Improvisation can be/is liberating.
2: There is no such thing as failure.
3: Make the music you want to hear.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Medieval Scores and imagining people and their motivations when playing instruments both then and now. The recorder and the fiddle.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I started playing the recorder at primary school and knew then that I wanted to be a musician, whatever that meant and I have never changed my mind. I studied the recorder at music college and taught myself to play the violin.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
My 5 favourite albums of all time are… (subject to change, this is difficult!)
1. Kathryn Tickell – The Gathering
2. Sequentia – EDDA
3. Ellen Arkbro – For Organ & Brass
4. His Majesties Sackbutts & Cornetts – The Grand Tour
5. Requiem in F Minor F. Biber – Gustav Leonhardt; Barokorkest Van De Nederlandse
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Musicians and artists moving from the UK to Berlin to be in it’s vibrant music scene. Industrial buildings as studios. This will be my first trip to Berlin, so I’m looking forward to it!
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
We just moved to a tiny village a year ago, so there is nothing here, so my favourite place is my thatched cottage, but 40 minutes drive is Snape Maltings on the Suffolk Coast, I love the reed beds and have done a couple of music residencies there, it’s a magical place.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Is there sound? Or nothing at a all? I would do something physical and rhythmic, make things, move, invent instrument types things. Make things out of big bright colours.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
What News – by Alasdair Roberts, David McGuinness and Amble Skuse.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I don’t know, these are off the top of my head… Benjamin Bagby & Sequentia, Colin Stetson, a massive string orchestra.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
As a performer, solo at The Barbican in London, I don’t know if it’s the best I’ve played, but it was a massive moment for me on a massive stage, I felt overwhelmed that I was there. Best gig as a spectator is between The Boredoms at All Tomorrow’s Parties or Islam Chipsy & E.E.K. at TUSK Festival in Newcastle, UK.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
I use a Zoom to record my improvisations, practice and to work on new compositions, but I still transcribe by ear with pencil and paper rather than notation on a computer. Laptop for editing and a Zoom are the technologies I can’t live without.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have one sister Sarah who is an artist and curator. She is very supportive of my career, we talk a lot and do totally different art forms but we support each other down the phone when I am touring or at home. I think she is proud of her little sister.
Photo © Laura Cannell