An interview with Coppice

Coppice have made a big impression here at Progress Report and their albums have been given glowing reviews by Pim van der Graaf. Pim was able to have a chat with the band when their paths crossed whilst he was in their home town of Chicago and he then followed that up with the email interview below.


PR: Your homebase is not too far away from downtown Chicago. Is Chicago a good place for your music, is there an active underground public that feeds your creativity?

C: There are many active music scenes in Chicago, with some cross over of audiences between experimental/contemporary/noise and conceptual/performance/art communities. We find there to be curiosity between the scenes. Sometimes the audience's interest seems to be scattered and picky. The diversity in the work we make crosses some of those communities, but ultimately our creative motivation is fed more by each other and our interlaced interests

PR: A lot of the experiments with sound have a distinct, resonant and organic sound. Also, the name Coppice relates to cutting back trees to their root, only with the intent to grow new shoots, and if possible a lot more. How does this name relate to your artistic activities ?

C: Our work develops in many directions simultaneously, and we find ourselves always tending multiple projects. We think of our name as both the noun and verb forms of "coppice", as each new work communicates reflections of previous works while introducing new aspects, like new performance techniques, methods of composition, arrangements, or instruments. Our first release Holes/Tract exposed the "raw foundations" from which subsequent works, and even current work departs from. We find an active, complex network of cross-self-references within our work.

All though the music released by Coppice is quite unique in a sense that it stretches time and space in an extremely relaxed fashion, one of the few things it reminds me of from time to time is Coil. What are Coppice' biggest influences?

C: When you listen to Coil do you think of music?  

We're not comfortable with a list of comprehensive influences yet because we find ourselves listening to the same music but gather from it different influences, or listen to different music and have the same influence. When we think back on our early sessions together we remember our inspiration being just each other and the sounds of our instruments. We had a lot of crossover of wishes and interests about musical functions and sonic effects, and were eager to be reactive. 

When we work we don't reference music, we reference the effects of our work, what we intend them to be and what we think they are, therefore our individual influences remain personal. Our impression is that Coppice is a blanket under which lies everything that influences us.

PR: Just listened a couple of times to Big Wad Excisions, and it seems to be more composed compared to Holes/Tract. Or at least, the chance meetings on Holes/Tract seem to be replaced with a kind of complex Autechre-like patterns. To what extent is Big Wad Excisions different from previous work?

C: Actually those sessions were quite controlled and structuralist at times. In a way everything we do after Holes/Tract points to Holes/Tract because it revealed our sound "substance" in pure form. Our root foundation is made up of the contents of air, edges, and our point of contact. At the time of making it we were very interested in finding the music within the sounds of our instruments. Compositionally the structures were more tucked-in and the musicality more inferred. Our attitude towards our instruments then was to approach them with gentle gesture and with forbearance. 

Perhaps what makes Big Wad Excisions seem more composed is that the pieces come from our live repertoire, using instruments and techniques that are more recognizable. Of course more outward expressions of pitches and rhythm, nudging our interests as musicians. We could say that Holes/Tract captured the formation of Coppice's sound substance and Big Wad Excisions more the first musical forms of that substance.  

Coppice music creates multiple-simultaneous effects on our listeners, and we know that because they often share with us their impressions and perceptions. We enjoy these points of connection and find them important. It's good because Coppice music is music for the engaged listener and the private questions of their footing.


PR: Talking about points of connection ; looking at your website, and released materials, it also seems that Coppice almost is an audiovisual experience. Images used are isolationist in scenery and very complimentary to your music. To me, a lot of your music is or can be very 'visual'. To what extent does Coppice play with images, do they play an important role in experiencing Coppice?


C: Everything in your question is part of the answer. It's part of our goal to have the experience you describe. We want Coppice to be a multi-layered experience. It's important to point out that we work from sound first, but every aspect surrounding the sound is important. Right now we're sharing Circumpass, our first work for video.


PR: Last week you guys sent out a newsletter in which you looked back on 2013 activities. What does the future look like for Coppice? What will 2014 bring?


C: We have a full release schedule in 2014 already. We're planning on bringing our live music to more people. This year we started a relationship with the label Quakebasket, which we're excited to continue with another release. But before that we have a limited edition release called Vantage/Cordoned on Mathieu Ruhlmann's label caduc., with a companion software composition called Soft Crown Transparencies. We're looking forward to ongoing engagement with our listeners via our website, through which we'll continue offering special editions as it continues to grow.


Our thanks go to Coppice for doing the interview. Photos by Dorothée Smith. Big Wad Excisions is out now on the Quakebasket label ( More info on Coppice on