Interview: My Octopus Mind (Bristol, UK) - Anne Estella

  • July 30th, 2019
  • Written by marcusoz

We talk to Bristol-based Experimental Rock trio MY OCTOPUS MIND about their debut album ‘Madalyne Cave’, their forthcoming tour and how a three-piece can occasionally have five members!


[1] Your bio states “My Octopus Mind embody the creativity and idiosyncrasies of their hometown.” Can you explain what you mean by that?

That was one of the gems one of our PR people generated, and we thought “sure, why not?” Bristol is a highly eclectic town, it does heavy math sounds, it does drone noise, it does Balkan Folk, it does Classical, there’s a great circus scene here. Bristol is very much a place where, if you want to do something crazy, there’s probably somebody around who’s up for doing it with you. 


[2] How and when was the band formed?

We formed sometime in 2014. Typical synchronicity nonsense, somebody knew somebody who was at a jam with somebody else and somebody started a band. Liam was on the hunt for a cellist to play his songs with him, a mutual friend and our old drummer said to him “Izy plays cello”. Izy did not bring a cello to that first jam. He brought a double bass, and promised Liam he would be happy. That was a philosophically unsound promise to make in the long run but we’re still playing music together at least.


[3] Can you tell us a bit about the band members? What are your backgrounds? I notice that you are a three-piece with five members!

Haha, we change on a whim it seems. Each gig has pretty much had a slightly different lineup, we bring in occasional string sections and vocalists so our home crowd has a slightly different experience each time. But the core three-piece has been the same for a while. Oli drums with two other bands (Stanlaey and Ogives Big Band) and is from the South West. He teaches drums to every child on his street. Izy is from the Isle of Wight. He loves his double bass, and still refuses to play cello. Liam is from Scotland, and travelled for many years writing songs before he arrived at Bristol to find a cellist to play them with. Life never turns out the way you want.


[4] How would you describe your sound and which other bands would you compare yourselves to?

This is gonna sound like a cliche, and it’s because it’s a common truth, we just make the sounds that are in us and we want to hear. To place that where it belongs in the larger story of music is beyond us. Someone once described us as Jeff Buckley versus the Mars Volta, and I think that encapsulates our mad, angular journeys and vulnerability on stage, but if you have any pointers on how to describe our sound we’d love to hear them! Otherwise, our go-to is; “A miniskirt clad gentleman swirling white spirits in a teacup and exchanging witty banter with a Cubist portrait of the Queen”. As we said, any pointers at all…


[5] You released your debut album, ‘Madalyne Cave’ on 10th July – can you tell us a bit about the album and why you gave it that title?

It’s a hybrid of Melodyne (an auto-tune software, referencing it is our little giggle at our own obsessive attention to detail) and Malady (an illness, could be physical, social, or psychosocial – the psychosocial in particular is a big focus in Liam’s lyrical concepts). The Cave is a long, thin, dark room at Music Ape Studios where we recorded and spent most of our time for two years. The cover is an interpretation (painted by our friend Naomi Larh, check out her work) of a photo of Izy having a tea break next to the only window in that same cave. Something an etymologist would notice though is that ‘mal’ is bad, ‘dyne’ is power; one is Latin, the other Greek… so Maladyne Cave is a culturally confused bad power cave. Take from that what you will.


[6] You worked with the award winning director Roos Mattaar on an incredible animation for ‘Welder’, the second single to be released in the run up to your album launch. What inspired the song and the video?

Roos was amazing to work with. We played her the song and she instantly fell for the energy. “I imagined a crazy manic metal worker”, she told us, “engrossed in his creation and feeling quite literally on top of the world. The lyrics present themselves almost as a dialogue between this welder character and Mother Earth herself. I wanted to capture this relationship between the two characters as the main focus of the video.” Welder was inspired by watching the oil rigs emerge from the Cromarty Firth in Scotland. 


[7] Will you be touring following the launch of your album?

Yes! Our upcoming gigs are:

August 24th – Shambala Festival (Compass Presents Stage)
September 5th – The Canteen, Bristol
September 6th – The Magic Garden, London
November 22nd – The Golden Lion, Bristol

November 27th – Lille, France

November 28th – Troyes, France

November 29th – Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
November 30th – Hannut, Belgium
December 1st – Hope and Ruin, Brighton


[8] What is the Bristol Rock scene like?

Bristol’s music scene is full of interesting bands pushing boundaries. Many Rock bands in Bristol dovetail into other camps, whether it’s a Jazz improv, drone, math, classical… Everybody wants to bring something cool and unique to the table.


[9] If you could support ANY band, who would it be?

Black Midi.


[10] What’s ‘The Dream’?

ALBUMS! So many albums… all different styles. Just loads of them. Albums coming out your eyeballs. Albums overflowing the bath and leaking through the living room ceiling. Albums swarming the countryside causing a national crisis. Albums ‘til the universe goes dark and all is void. 





Watch the music video for leading single ‘Elska’ here: 


My Octopus Mind are:

Liam O’Connell – Guitar / Vocals
Izy Ellis – Double Bass / Cello 
Oliver Cocup – Drums
Rowen Elliott – Viola
Rebecca Shelley – Violin / Vocals



All artist press shots are courtesy of Barbora Cetlova.
The final illustrated image is of Black Midi, taken from their Facebook page. (Artist Unknown)

Written By: Anne Estella