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Sports Brian Cox and Adele’s producer Paul Epworth discuss music and the cosmos

9 min read
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionPaul Epworth and Brian Cox discuss zero-gravity and space explorationPaul Epworth is behind some of the biggest pop records of the last 20 years, from Adele's Rolling in the Deep to Florence and the Machine's Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up). Along the way he's worked with Rihanna,…
Sports Brian Cox and Adele’s producer Paul Epworth discuss music and the cosmos

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Media captionPaul Epworth and Brian Cox discuss zero-gravity and self-discipline exploration

Paul Epworth is within the help of one of the important most greatest pop records of the final 20 years, from Adele’s Rolling within the Deep to Florence and the Machine’s Rabbit Heart (Lift It Up).

Along the formulation he is labored with Rihanna, Stormzy, Sir Paul McCartney, Coldplay and U2 – and he gained an Oscar for co-writing the Bond theme Skyfall.

However now, after years within the help of the scenes, the producer is releasing his first solo album. Voyager, a sprint into deep self-discipline, fuses influences from classic sci-fi movies along with his love of musical explorers love David Bowie, George Clinton, Wendy Carlos and Jean-Michel Jarre.

“Or now not it’s a type of ’70s self-discipline thought album, which is barely of a cliché as a producer – to get something that ostentatious and overblown,” he told BBC Data.

“However I’ve tried to frame it in a up-to-the-minute method, so I’ve obtained some good singers and rappers on it.”

The sage sees guest vocals from the likes of Jay Electronica, Ty Dolla $ign, Vince Staples, Lianne La Havas and Kool Keith. However, more importantly, it allowed Epworth to indulge his ardour for self-discipline shuttle and astrophysics – to boot to a behavior for gathering ancient, analogue synths at his studio in London’s Crouch End.

He traces his curiosity in science help to his father’s work in increasing optical fibres. Yet he stays forever unparalleled about lifestyles, the universe and the entire lot.

To celebrate the sage’s free up, Epworth crooked up with Professor Brian Cox – the prominent physicist and worn keyboard participant for ’90s dance act D:Ream – to quiz one of the important most questions that occurred to him whereas making the album.

Paul Epworth: After I started engaged on a sage about self-discipline, minute did I factor in I may perchance doubtless well well be sitting here with you. Clearly you started in song as successfully, so what triggered you to get that shift into this love of the cosmos and astrophysics?

Brian Cox: To be correct, my first curiosity was once astronomy. As a long way help as I can bear in mind. I comely loved the stars.

I’ve considered it loads – what was once it that made a seven-twelve months-extinct turn into drawn to stars? And I notify it goes the total method help to taking a await Christmas whereas you are six years extinct… and I factor in I started to affiliate it with the constellations. My dad once acknowledged to me ‘There’s Orion, it’s basically the most spicy constellation to detect.’ And I seen that it was once within the autumn and the wintry weather after I may perchance doubtless well open seeing Orion over our help garden.

However I also bear in mind genuinely vividly Superstar Wars and Superstar Traipse in long-established. So I also loved science fiction for some reason and I conflated it all collectively. Dwelling grew to turn into this thought, which was once share escapism, share Superstar Wars [and] share astronomy. Tune was once nearly a distraction!

What is the connection for you between song and the cosmos? Is there a portion of song that brings the 2 collectively?

Vangelis’s theme for Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. To within the meanwhile, when that song begins, it’s a shiver. It takes me correct help to being 11 years extinct and the sky. It’s miles regularly powerful.

I’ve basically been enthusiastic about the previous few years with some attempts to match classical song to the guidelines that are raised in astronomy and cosmology. We dwell in a doubtlessly countless universe which, to me, raises questions about our mortality about our fragility.

What does it point out to are living these cramped, finite and in some sense insignificant lives on this doubtlessly everlasting and doubtlessly countless universe? Those are emotional questions, they’re deeply human questions, and they’re questions which get motivated deal of artwork and song.

I was once discovering out a book right this moment by a man known as Itzhak Bentov known as Stalking the Wild Pendulum, which is set the mechanics of consciousness. He talks about all topic vibrating – and for certain vibration is the formulation every musical instrument generates noise. It obtained me how all these items match collectively…

There’s an spell binding level there, which is that song is a product of consciousness and intelligence. And whereas you are taking into fable what we are – how it may perchance doubtless well perchance also be that some atoms which were around since the Broad Bang… basically be in a dwelling to open pondering and arrangement song?

That is a outstanding ingredient. I give it some thought was once Richard Feynman who acknowledged “Human beings are atoms, that can peek atom.” And share of these atoms’ response to this outstanding phenomenon is to get song as share of the exploration of what which method. I salvage that outstanding.

There’s a thought that the universe is basically formed love a doughnut. What are your concepts on that?

The level is we get now not know. All we are succesful of discover about about the universe is the bit we are succesful of gaze, which is unquestionably a cramped patch of what exists. In the meanwhile it’s comely over 90 billion gentle years all over, so it’s a gargantuan bit, [and] that bit is flat, so a long way as we are succesful of portray.

However that is doubtlessly love saying “I’ve explored the strategy around my home and it’s flat.” And it’s flat, even whereas you is doubtless to be living on a gargantuan hill, since the curvature of the enviornment is important greater than the strategy around your space. That is doubtlessly what the universe is love.

Or now not it’s nearly incomprehensible, the scale of some of these items.

The distances… I point out, even the closest gargantuan galaxy to us is Andromeda which we are succesful of gaze with the bare eye, if there is no moon and it is vitally dark. And the gentle that enters your eye took two million years to sprint to Earth. Or now not it’s a outstanding feeling when that. Correct to accept as true with, when these photons situation off off on their sprint, there were no folk on the earth. We hadn’t evolved.

Here is why song and artwork is efficacious because I can inform these sentences and hump out these phrases, but how a particular person reacts to that is… Or now not it’s a complex, non-public ingredient. How sign you is doubtless to be feeling about the premise that we were in a sea of [stars] and we are succesful of gaze two trillion galaxies? How does that get you is doubtless to be feeling? I get now not know the strategy that makes me genuinely feel basically.

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Getty Pictures

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Epworth and Adele gained Oscars in 2013 for composing the theme to Skyfall

For this reason it’s so engaging because there is countless angles to it. As it’s probably you’ll doubtless well perchance furthermore get understood more about the cosmos, how has your relationship with song changed?

Or now not it’s broadened, I factor in. After I first started going in song I obtained Enola Cheerful by OMD and Hazel O’Connor’s Eighth Day and I obtained into Kraftwerk. However over the final 10 to 15 years I’ve genuinely obtained launched to just a few the best classical song from the turn of the 20th Century, and also you look for that increased harmonic complexity and richness.

I did a concert basically with the BBC, about Holst’s The Planets, which every person listens to at college. Or now not it’s nearly turn into a pop classic now, but basically at the time it was once surprising harmonically and within the formulation that it’s orchestrated. And whereas you strip away that familiarity, you realise that it’s a successfully-organized achievement. So I love seeking out that complexity.

Or now not it’s spicy you inform that, because it’s something I [discovered] whereas making this sage. Presumably it’s folk making an strive to recreate the complexity of the evening sky by hook or by crook within a musical type.

Or now not it’s a staunch analogy basically, because Western song has obtained rather a miniature scale. There’s comely the [notes on a] piano keyboard and that’s the explanation it. However from these rather simple guidelines, the complexity is quite limitless. And that is an analogy for, I factor in, the formulation that we gaze the the Universe.

So whereas you detect at it now, 13.8 billion years after the Broad Bang, it’s vastly complex – however the criminal guidelines of nature that that underpin that appear, as we detect deeper and deeper, to be simple.

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Media captionIs the universe a hologram?

I read this improbable Neil deGrasse Tyson quote about how the particles in our bodies transfer at the price of gentle, and clearly as you get nearer to the price of gentle time slows down. So are the particles in our bodies occupying the same space and time as they were within the Broad Bang?

Yeah, that is correct. If you make a selection the path of a photon that was once launched quickly after the Broad Bang, and has travelled all around the universe at the price of gentle for 13.8 billion years or so, from our perspective – and inform you’d carried a clock with you – how important time would it’s probably you’ll doubtless well perchance furthermore get experienced as a photon? Then you are correct, the retort is zero.

That is doubtless one of many unconventional issues about physics and cosmology – it forces us into these reputedly extraordinarily counterintuitive positions.

Image copyright
Paul Epworth

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Epworth has been named producer of the twelve months Thrice at the Brit Awards

Attain you factor in original traits love quantum computing are going to get it more uncomplicated for us to crack these forms of puzzles?

Sure! Quantum computing has been a ingredient for a truly long time – that comely in principle we may perchance doubtless well contain these computers that are a long way more powerful than anything that we are succesful of achieve out of silicon. And harnessing that energy is something that we’re comely about in a dwelling to sign now. We are building the first quantum computers and they’re genuinely broken-down – they’re love an abacus nearly. Nonetheless it didn’t make a selection as long to gallop from the first computers within the ’40s to an iPhone or a Samsung.

And there may perchance be a proposal that these machines will doubtless be in a dwelling to simulate nature, important more precisely than we are succesful of within the meanwhile, because all nature behaves in a quantum mechanical method. So we are going to be in a dwelling to detect locations we are going to now not gallop and [find out things like] what occurs previous the occasion horizon of a dim gap?

Attain you resolve with self-discipline as a non secular contain?

I by no method know what that be aware method – on the change hand it’s completely correct [space] generates profound emotions. You get got obtained to be in terror about the existence of the universe as a entire, and our existence within it. You is doubtless to be genuinely lacking the level whereas you are now not astonished by that.

So, to attain help to the song aspect of it: Life on Mars [by David Bowie] or Moon Safari [by Air]?

I basically get to claim Life on Mars, because Hunky Dory is my favourite album. I love Rick Wakeman’s piano playing on Life on Mars. If you are a musician and also you are making an strive to play Life on Mars you realise that, whereas some of it’s rather a long-established chord sequence – I give it some thought’s basically linked to My Manner – some of it’s incredibly unparalleled and comely reveals you what instinctive genius Bowie was once. What a author. I love your entire album – despite the proven truth that I love Air too.

Which sign factor in you will sign first, gallop to Mars or get a safari on the moon?

I factor within the moderate particular person will get the chance to get a safari on the moon earlier than they get to gallop to Mars. However I factor in any individual may perchance doubtless well gallop to Mars earlier than we are succesful of all get a moon safari.

Would you gallop?

I get requested that loads. I factor in it’s probably you’ll doubtless well perchance furthermore get to get the steady stuff – and I am now not distinct I basically get the steady stuff.

Put collectively us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If it’s probably you’ll doubtless well perchance furthermore get a memoir recommendation email [email protected].

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