Producer and arranger to the likes of Coldplay, Peter Gabriel and Blur, New Zealand er John Metcalfe is one of the most sought after musicians in the business. Metcalfe’s gorgeous latest solo album, ‘The Appearance of Colour’, which has been described as “effervescent, divinely beautiful” by Clash magazine and “staggeringly beautiful” by Mary Anne Hobbs on BBC 6Music beautifully unites the disparate strand s of his kaleidoscopic musical world. Within the album are powerful rhythmic strings evoking the world of systems music, moments of transcendent solo piano, shimmering electronics and guitar, elements of drum and bass, and of chamber music.
For his live band shows Metcalfe’s has assembled an incredible line up of musicians: the crisp, jazz-influenced beats from Rae Morris’ drummer Daisy Palmer, deeply felt groove from Red Snapper’s bassist Ali Friend and the exquisite voice of Rosie Doonan, fresh back from touring with Birdy.
Metcalfe’s output spans many genres. In addition to collaborating with a huge range of artists from Morrissey to Pretenders and his work in radio/tv he tours and records as violist with the renown classical Duke String Quartet. He was a member of cult band Durutti Column and alongside Tony Wilson launched the pioneering Factory Classical on Manchester’s legendary Factory. He also performs and records with the Max Richter Ensemble.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Trees, death, my viola. Reverb and delay.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
When I was at primary school I was paid 3p by Vicky Sinden to play the opening bars of ‘The Entertainer’ by Scott Joplin. This meant I could buy an iced bun at break time. Never looked back.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Computer World – Kraftwerk
Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division
Atmospheres and Soundtracks – Eno/Lanois
Haydn String Quartets op.77 – Mosiaques Quartet
Why? – Discharge
Bach Goldberg Variations – Glen Gould (1955 recording)
sorry that’s 6
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
I studied at the Hochschule in the very late 80’s and I remember lots of protest marches and of course the wall.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
The Jericho Cafe – it consistently turns out the best poached egg I know anywhere. There is also a beautiful majestic copper beech in the local park which is extraordinary in spring.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Hand el: Solomon – Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Andrew Scheps (an amazing mix engineer)
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Conducting the orchestra for Peter Gabriel’s ‘New Blood’ Tour at a sold out Hollywood Bowl
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Very and not at all. I use it all the time of course – it does amazing things but I’d be just as happy if it all disappeared – no screens just sound.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have a sister – I think she thinks it’s kind of cool…
John Metcalfe will perform as part of Neue Meister VI at DRIVE Volkswagen Group Forum on 6th November 2017.