Interview with Daniel O’Sullivan (As featured in the new Young Arnolfini zine)


An edited version of the following interview is featured in the new YA zine (launched a week ago).

Interview with Daniel O’Sullivan

By Jacob Matthews


Daniel O’Sullivan is an artist, composer and musician based in London, who is recognised as being part of bands such as Guapo, Ulver and Mothlite among others. He has collaborated with numerous artists including Stephen O’Malley, Jarboe, and Alexander Tucker, who he will be releasing a new LP “Glynnaestra” with on July 22nd as “Grumbling Fur”. He regularly collaborates with the artist, Serena Korda and composed music and conducted a choir of 70 school children as part of Work As Movement Archive in Barton Hill, Bristol in May 2012.  I managed to get in touch with him to ask the following questions:

How would you describe your creative practice?

Blurry. Sporadic. Immersive.

What was the first work you made that really felt like it had authenticity or integrity

Probably the first recordings I ever made. I made a tape of very naive piano ballads with cheap foley (1) sound effects  when I was 8 years old.

You’ve made music through being a part of the bands Ulver, Mothlite and Miracle to name a few. How important is collaboration to your work?

For a chemical reaction to occur one must compound elements. You learn a lot about yourself through playing with others.

What does it feel like to produce new work?

When it’s too exciting, to the point where you feel like your head might explode, I always find it’s best to leave it alone and return to it. When the work is fluid and effortless it normally retains its value in the long term.

Do you think originality truly exists?

Of course. If you perceive it to be so then so it is.


What were your experiences as an emerging artist?

Experiences that didn’t rely on having lots of money.

What has your most recent work consisted of?

New collaborations with Charlemagne Palestine, Daniel Higgs, Mark Titchner, etc. Curating Transmissions Festival (2) in Italy, new Grumbling Fur, Ulver, Miracle and Mothlite recordings emerging. Live soundtracks for Serena’s (3) giant latex dinosaur and composing ragas for schoolchildren and sea shanties for old men.

You’ve recently curated the Transmissions music festival in Italy. Was this your debut as a curator?

On that scale, yes.

Do you have any advice for artists or musicians starting out? 

Stay inside. Journey inward.

You wrote some original music for the Work As Movement Archive that was performed in Barton Hill, Bristol last year. Do you think it is important for communities to collaborate and produce artworks?           

Hugely important. What better way to understand your neighbour than to make something with them.

Can you describe your creative influences?

All things influence me. For better or worse.


Do you have a favourite debut album?

I don’t do favourites, I’m too chameleonic, but I’m loving Bill Fay’s first album (4) at the moment.

How do you begin a new piece of work?

It varies. Pen to paper, a piano, a dream, a memory, a melody. My system is one of disciplined automatism.

Are there any artists or musicians that you think young aspiring artists should be aware of?

It all depends on your trajectory. But for me some of the key developmental players were Austin Osman Spare, David Lynch, Max Ernst, Alice Coltrane, Mark Hollis, Philip K. Dick, Coil and the Javanese Court Gamelan.

What are you doing next?

I’m acting in a film called Transmittance (directed by Adam B Daniels), working on a large scale sound and video installation with Mark Titchner and Alexander Tucker, finishing up VELD (new Mothlite work), waiting for Glynnaestra (Grumbling Fur), Mercury (Miracle) and learning how to be without all of it too.

(1) Foley is the use of recording everyday sound-effects within film and music.

(2) Transmissions is a contemporary music festival, the 6th of which was held in Ravenna, Italy during March and involved a range of artworks, both musical and visual, exploring transcendence.

(3) Serena Korda is an artist who has more recently been creating public works that explore the development of rituals and traditions.

(4) Progressive folk singer Bill Fay’s self-titled debut album was first released in 1970. 


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