Rosie Carr (Interview)
Good morning. We’re off on Monday.
It’s Friday so we’re listening to something slightly more upbeat. Today we’re listening to Rosie Carr, an English composer based in Ramsgate. Like Yara Asmar, Carr records herself using homemade instruments, combining them with field recordings, found cassettes, and trip-hop percussion. Her debut LP, yew, which came out in September, is a heady “tudorgaze” collage of sounds. Since yew is Carr’s only LP, she suggested pairing it with violinist Laura Cannell’s Antiphony of the Trees. “It's just absolutely beautiful music,” she told us, “and I think she's a really exciting artist. I listened to it quite a lot when I was making yew, often whilst driving, or in my headphones whilst walking in the countryside.” An interview with Carr follows the streaming links.
What's the overlap between gardening and ambient music?
I think there are many. Gardening, focusing on nature, sometimes on repetitive tasks, and just having your hands in soil, can be really meditative. I find when I'm gardening, time can move really fast. It often feels like a kind flow state – it has a similar effect on me to listening to ambient music.
Where do you live and what's popping over there musically?
I live in an area of Kent in south east England called Thanet. There is a really good music scene. There's a great venue called Where Else? that showcases a great mixture of artists, local artists and from further afield. It's a relatively small place, but there is a lot of collaboration happening amongst different types of music makers, from dance, electronica to classical experimental and punk. The scene feels really friendly and non-judgemental. Some cool artists who live round here: Melinda Bronstein, Francesca Ter-berg, Clementine Blue, yemrot. Also the record label Prah is based here and I'm a big fan of their whole roster. There is a lot of art / performance art happening here too, so it feels like an inspiring place.
We clocked many different influences on this record – Debussy, Aphex Twin, Arca – but we might be wrong. What musicians do you personally attribute this record to as influences?
That's cool... yes yes all of the above! Also too many more to mention. At the mo Burial, Brian Eno, Dounia – I've also recently become obsessed with an Australian composer and sound artist called Ros Bandt. Check out her 1981 album Improvisations in Acoustic Chambers. Also I'm absolutely loving André 3000's new album. I'd say my work is really massively led by improvisation, trying things out, mixing in a lot of far flung influences, from Skepta to Hainbach.
"yew Pt. 2" in particular has many interesting sonic elements, including a repeated snare. What was the composition process behind that?
I was trying to make that track super dreamy. I can't remember how I recorded that exact snare! But essentially the process was one of moving between digital and analogue many many times. So getting together some tape loops and samples with a walkman, recording that into Ableton, then recording that out to a 4-track tape recorder, then messing with the tracks individually with guitar pedals, a lot of reverb added, some stuff looped on tape, then recorded back into Ableton, more digital effects added, then sometimes re-recorded, etc. Really long but kind of exciting process where loads of random accidents occur which then become key moments.
The drums dropping in are so cool. Actually how did you source those – Splice? Or direct samples?
Again, a real mix! I think Splice is amazing, but for yew, most of the drum sounds are one-shots made into kits in Ableton then heavily distorted – a mixture of direct recordings and some sample pack stuff. My favourite you can buy are called “Junkyard Percussion.” Also my friends at This Museum is not Obsolete in Ramsgate (where I live) have started making sample packs of their weird old drum machines and wonky synths, which are amazing.
Name an underrated artist from the past 50 years.
What's your main instrument(s) for making this amazing music?
No one main instrument! Essential items are tapes to sample, a tape recorder, my Tascam 4 track, a selection of guitar pedals, and the instruments I made myself with contact mics – also the “water recorder” which I think I might have invented? Basically a pond pump in a bucket with a plastic recorder on a hose pipe. The pump pushes the water up and theaf air out, so when you play it sounds like a slide whistle... I will send you a video.
What are you working on next?
I'm making more instruments at the moment to feature in my live set. I'm hoping to do a small UK tour next year with Emma Gatrill and Martha Rose, musicians and friends who play on yew. So fingers crossed for that.