Back in 2017, The Green Kingdom was one of the first artists to get on-board with RTR before the label was officially launched. Appearing on the first RTR sampler in January 2018 and releasing the album ‘Ephemera’ (RTR010) in that year, The Green Kingdom has been a part of RTR from the very beginning. The Green Kingdom is the solo project of graphic designer and sound artist, Michael Cottone. Based in Michigan, US, Michael has been releasing music under TGK name since 2006, exploring styles of ambient, drone, electronica, folk and post-rock. Michael has released music vis the likes of Hidden Vibes, Dronarivm, Past Inside The Present, Sound in Silence, and Dewtone Recordings.
In this feature, Michael talks about early introductions to ambient music, finding inspiration in simplicity, sampling during the writing stage, and the positive restrictions of listening to music on tape. Michael also gives a number of listening recommendations that provide insight on the varied influences that shape the music of The Green Kingdom.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
Probably by way of branching out from prog rock, instrumental guitar music and electronic/IDM sounds, all of which I still love. Works by Eno, Aphex Twin, Stars of the Lid and a lot of the early 12k releases were quite influential.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
The compulsion to create is always there, but it can be any number of things- a walk through the forest, listening to something new, watching a YouTube video or just sitting down with a guitar and playing. Something as simple as picking up an instrument I haven’t played in a while can also provide a new perspective.
How do you approach working on a new release?
A lot of times it’s the last thing I mentioned in the previous question. Sitting down and playing without putting much thought into it, trying new combinations of notes or maybe a different chord progression. If I arrive at something promising, I’ll usually record it to a 4/4 click, sample and loop the best pieces and build from there. Other times it could be a vinyl sample or some other loop that forms the basis of a piece and I’ll use that as the starting point.
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
Oh wow, that’s a tough one as I’m always finding new stuff! I really love the ‘Undercurrents’ series by Hammock, which were long form pieces released one per month during 2019- some within the last 12 months, right? The tracks are all very immersive yet continually move and evolve over their duration. Just something I can listen to anytime, anywhere and totally get lost in. I have also come back to the ‘OPW’ album by Oliver Patrice Weder a lot, a beautifully melodic and intimate modern classical album as well as brilliant acoustic guitar works by Vin Downes and Michelle Qureshi. No way I could only name one thing 🙂
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
Having grown up in the 80s, there is of course the nostalgic aspect to it. There was something magical about going into a store and looking through that wall of tapes, always a chance to discover something new. Because it’s more difficult to skip tracks, the medium itself also forces you to just put on a tape and listen to at least one whole side per sitting. It also lends itself to taking in an album in its entirety, which is becoming a lost art.