Originally hailing from the fair isles of New Zealand but now living in Berlin, Nigel Braddock aka Broad Oak studied classical piano from an early age and completed a music degree before deciding the life of a classical musician was not for him. In the year 2000, after some years wandering the planet, he set up indie label Monkey Records in Auckland to release an album by his band Dystopia which was a collaboration with a poet and a sitar player. Since then he has recorded and produced several albums for the label (John White, Charity Children, The Mung Beings, Cosmo and the Cosmonaut)) as well as working as a sound engineer, tour booker/manager and dj.
The release of his debut EP, In Love With These Hills, sees him come full circle with his label which started out releasing ambient music such as Sleepytime, Dystopia and the compilation Leading a Horse to Water. In fact, the genesis of the EP was a set of recordings he made in 2002.
Says Braddock, “I was inspired by Nigel Gavin who had recorded improvised loops every day for a year and chosen the best for his album, Music For Flem Vol. II (released by Monkey Records). I didn’t have any recording software or hardware back then so I borrowed a friend’s loop pedal and a mini disc player for a few days and recorded a bunch of loops. I made a few cassettes of the resulting tracks and sent them to friends but I always had the idea in the back of my mind to do something more with them one day. In 2012, not long after I moved to Berlin, I bought a piano and decided to add piano parts to two of the tracks. You can actually hear my son coming in on the piece Letting Go while I was playing and saying “music, music” when he was about 18 months old.
Predictably I got sidetracked again and I only finished the tracks in early 2021 while recovering from a bout of covid. My mood was quite sombre as I was feeling very isolated so it was the perfect time to come back to these pieces which are all quite melancholy. Because the original loops were recorded without a click track, the overdubs were all done pretty much live, no cut and paste, which adds a more organic feel to the tracks. There’s also unusual phrasing, for example the original loop for Worms is five bars which gives the track a feel of uneasiness. This is entirely appropriate given the track is named after a nightmare I once had of being dead and buried in the ground but still conscious while worms and other insects devoured my flesh. The tracks are mostly instrumental but track two features vocals from Kathryn van Beek who I was in a band with called Peachy Keen at the time.”
In Love With These Hills is the first of six planned EPs for the coming year which will chart Broad Oak’s progress as a composer and musician over the last twenty years. Since the founding of his label he has been making his own music but always ended up prioritising other artists over his own output. That all changed in 2019 when, faced with ever dwindling returns from streaming, he decided not to sign any new artists to the label and concentrate on his own material and collaborations. He now has eight different musical projects underway including a band with his son (Cosmo and the Cosmonaut), a project with a rapper from New York (The Mung Beings) and an upcoming solo piano album.
Braddock is also very interested in collaborating with AI and the cover for the EP comes from online AI art generator DALL-E. The AI generated music video by WZRD for Worms Ate My Flesh, the first single from the EP, has been selected for fourteen film festivals and recently scooped the Best Music Video and Best AI graphics at the AI International Film Festival.