To Adem Ilhan (b. 1977), composition encompasses song-writing, arranging, devising, soundscape-creating—a heady, hazy mix that defies categorisation. As a musician, producer, singer-songwriter, performer, arranger and composer, an intense sense of vision, scale, and play unites his varied oeuvre. His early work in the seminal band FRIDGE, releasing albums of experimental post-rock on Domino, focused on ‘exploring sound, studio as instrument and the dynamic of musicians together in a room.’ Placing a high value on collaboration, Ilhan embraces ‘the joy of messing about like a bull in a laboratory of smoking tubes filled with noises.’
For Ilhan, writing and performing words with music is intrinsically linked to production and arrangement. Ilhan has written scores for film, theatre, dance, documentaries, and myriad other projects. He has had musical installations in Tate Britain, Barbican and the ICA and founded the tastemaker festival ‘Homefires’. He recently co-scored the inaugural piece Events for The National Company of Contemporary Dance—opening their new home on the South Bank: a collaboration with Rambert Dance Company, Gerhard Richter, members of Radiohead and Quinta, and Merce Cunningham. He scored the entire 2012 season for the main theatre productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as numerous short films for display at Tate Modern and several feature films, including Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop (2012) and the forthcoming The Ones Below directed by David Farr due 2015/16. During 2014, he worked at Radiohead’s residential studio to produce and collaborate on Philip Selway’s album Weatherhouse. He has also made music for adverts for various established companies and released many records under various monikers.
It is through making music for diverse media that Ilhan feels he developed as a music writer. Ultimately, his heart and mind lies in an experimental contemporary classical world that recognises the richness and complexity of simple systems and the power of allowing a musician to be musical and trust their honed instincts as well as the composer’s instructions. Graphic scores and rule sets also hold a unique fascination for the composer.
This year Ilhan scored strings for Hot Chip’s album Why Make Sense? released by Domino and composed a featured string arrangement on Years and Years’ single “Eyes Shut” for Polydor. He is finishing a score for acclaimed aerialists ‘Ockham’s Razor’ and his much anticipated new solo album, seconds are acorns, was released on 16 October 2015.
Adem Ilhan | This award presents me the privilege of being able to follow an idea down a rabbit hole. It grants the possibility of being able to have adventures and to have the time to explore, to grow, to tend my little seedling musical voice, to find my own sound, place, and process. Along with this also comes an affirmation, a belief in me that inspires confidence in myself; a momentum which encourages me to make music happen and poke at the edges of my potential.