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Interview: An end of year message from Robert Paul Corless

It’s been a few months since we caught up with our favourite underground producer, Robert Paul Corless, who has had an extremely busy year releasing not one, not two, but six albums of immersive soundscapes, providing a backdrop to a host of spoken word artists from across the globe.

While we spent our more reflective glimpses of 2017 delving into the fruits of Corless’ labour (boasting a level of productivity to put even the insatiable King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard to shame) what really struck us was the breadth of his material. The sextet touches on everything from the inner-city observations of his hometown of Manchester provided by Michael O’neill, to the Parisian musings of Marion Mucciante, which Corless admits intrigued him because he had “no idea what she was on about”.

Not content with all that, however, Corless will make one last mark on our year, releasing a pair of singles, the first coming on Christmas Day and the second landing January 1st 2018… Who says records don’t get released on Mondays anymore?

Since we last spoke you’ve completed the second trilogy of your spoken word project, how did it turn out?

With all the poets I have worked with over the last year, I really just get the vocal down without any music there. I wouldn’t want them recording with music in the background [possibly for the first time] to distract them from any kind of delivery, pronunciation or truth. It’s more natural. After that I just play it them back with a simple drone track and build it up from there.

They all turn out differently, though. Some are more ‘bandy’, as in guitar bass and drums, whereas others, particularly the album with Marion (Messages de Paris Partie) are almost neo-classical. It turned out great, but there’s no massive concept. I just make it up as I go along. It’s all about intention. Even if you hit wrong notes like Les Dawson!

Do you find having all these different voices to adapt to drives you stay eclectic?

Yeah definitely, you’ve got a range of different perspectives, which I try and interpret, while still always having my own footprint on there. There’s not one correct way to do it, sometimes you can even draw from someone’s body language. I think it was Charlie Parker who used to audition musicians by just getting them to stand in front of him, and he’d suss them out without hearing a note. I’ve always had that in my head.

So you don’t hear any of the poems beforehand?

No, not at all. I look for a confidence in their body language and their material. I’m not here to sit and have fucking conversations saying “what do you think of this?”, I’m not here to be wiping anyones arse. They come and record it, then a couple of weeks after they get the finished album to listen to, and they’ve all been pleased, which is great.

How does working with poets differ to working with musicians?

Jesus, that’s why I’ve got to a point where I like just putting records together on my own. I’m sick to death of musicians throwing in fucking sick notes at 4pm!

Your new single from the latest poetry album Vol. 22 is called ‘Big Issue’, tell us about that?

Yeah it’s from the last of the second trilogy, featuring a poet called Rosa Wright. We were talking to the Big Issue magazine about doing something with them around it. They said they liked the sentiment and what I was trying to do, but they won’t touch it because of the swearing. I understand that, but to me it means jack shit! I guess swearing comes from a place of vulgarity, but that’s fine. Mancunians can be quite vulgar!

Is this a line in the sand for the poetry then now?

It feels like that but who knows? I’m working with another group I’m in called The Evil Poor in the new year, and then there’s talk of me doing a solo live tour next year, which could bring the poets back into it. Or I might just say fuck it and write an entirely brand new set!

All six of Robert Paul Corless’ spoken word albums (Vol. 17-22) are available to buy and stream now, via Eromeda Records. He will unveil his new single ‘A Homage to Almeria’ on Christmas Day, and its follow-up ‘Andalucia’ on New Year’s Day.