Coypu is the product of the transatlantic friendship between experimental musicians and improvisers Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance, Badgerlore, 200 Years, Rangda), Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo (Blind Cave Salamander, Almagest!, (r), Larsen), Paul Beauchamp (Blind Cave Salamander, Almagest!) and Daniele Pagliero (Lo Dev Alm). The group’s sound is equal parts electronic and “traditional” instrumentation. They describe themselves as “water music” (more on that in our interview below), and their new album, Floating, does have a clear, liquid, living, organic quality to it.
Floating will be available in a limited pressing of 500 LPs on MiE Music on February 19. Listen to “Man, Wolf, Jackal, and Jungle Cat!” below, and scroll on to read our conversation with Coypu.
What brought you all together for this project?
Paul Beauchamp: Mainly friendship and a desire to create something together. Daniele, Fabrizio and myself all live in Turin where we share a recording studio. Ben was planning on spending some time here so we decided to take the opportunity to go into the studio and make some music. At the start we were just interested in having fun together but then we were so pleased with the music we decided to turn into a real project.
Daniele Pagliero: I joined the other guys one day at the recording studio when Ben was in Torino during a Six Organs Of Admittance tour. They asked me to play some bass riffs and I was happy because I didn’t play bass for a while, as I play mostly keyboards on my other projects and that seemed a good opportunity to make good music and spend some time together.
Ben Chasny: I had met everyone from touring in Italy. Sometimes I end up spending a few days in Turin so it just seemed natural to spend the days making music since I enjoy all the other members of Coypu’s music on their own.
Did you set out with a specific aesthetic in mind, or did you just start making music together and let it grow organically?
Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo: The band name came first, if I remember well, and that gave a direction to our jams.
Ben: We wanted to keep it on an instrumental level at first. That may change in the future but for now, that’s where we want to go. This band has more electronic sounds than most of my other bands, so for me that is what makes it quite distinctive. Everything grew pretty organically.
Paul: We started out with just simply improvisation and then as soon as we would find a direction or a feel that we all liked we would run with that and then let it grow from there.
You describe your genre as “water music”, what does that mean to you, and how do you see it manifesting in the music you’ve made together?
Fabrizio: Dense and flaoting at same time, continuously shifting.
Daniele: I think it came from a review of the first EP… It’s always difficult to label your own music, so a new genre felt good …
Ben: If you have 4 parts water and put them together, they become indistinctive from each other. They become one. This is a good ideal to shoot for as a band.
Paul: For me “water music” carries the idea of connection to land and geography and even on a broader scale, life. I see manifested in our music as body constantly flowing and changing its aspect as it moves from deep, still areas to more frenetic rapids.
I hear a lot of deconstructed Appalachian folk tropes in this album; there is a lot of the American mid-Atlantic and South in here, interesting for a transatlantic partnership. What drew you to these particular melodic structures?
Fabrizio: Well, Ben and Paul are American, and more specifically Paul decided to use traditional instruments of his birth country as main sources for his own sounds within Coypu.
It’s up to Daniele and me to provide some good ole European vibes to the whole.
Daniele: As an Italian, any music that come from USA has an exotic resonance to me, from blues to folk. I like any kind of music and when I play over it I try to re-elaborate the concept and the vibes. So if I play over folk instruments I try to get the mood and as in a conversation I put some elements of my musical backgrounds, the kraut as well as progressive rock or industrial.
Ben: I think Paul’s instruments, the saw and dulcimer, add to that feeling. When those instruments are placed in direct conjunction with Daniele’s more electronic sounds, an interesting mood develops. That interval between tradition and modernity always provides a feritle area for melody and mood.
Paul: Yes, I suppose most of that comes from myself as well as Ben. I’m originally from North Carolina and so I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains and surroundings. Two of the instruments that I play in Coypu are the Appalachian Dulcimer and the musical saw, both traditional instruments from those mountains.
Is there more in the works for Coypu past this album? Do you plan to play shows together?
Fabrizio: we have already played [a] few shows on the release of our debut EP “Of Tails and Whiskers” last year and we are now planning to do more. We all play in other bands and we have our own projects, but Coypu is not ment to be a one off anyway.
Ben: The shows we have already played were too fun not to do more. There will be more.
Paul: Absolutely. We’re working on setting up some live shows to promote the new album and we will certainly be heading back into the studio [at] a certain point to work on new material.
Anything else you’d like to share about the album with listeners that you haven’t gotten to share yet?
Fabrizio: Don’t kill the nutrias.
Daniele: Enjoy yourself.
Ben: What Fabrizio said.
Paul: Not personally, no. I prefer to leave it up to [the] listener. I find it very interesting to hear what people come away with all on their own after listening.