Brian and Roger Eno on collaboration, humour and music

Musicians Brian and Roger Eno have released their first album together; here CR talks to them about the project and what makes a good creative collaboration

“Brian’s busy, and I’m lazy,” says Roger Eno as to why it’s taken him and his brother Brian Eno this long to create an album together. “I think we should stop the interview there, it won’t get much better than that!” Brian laughs. Fortunately for us, they carry on, and over a crackly line where all parties sit in sunny UK isolation, the Eno brothers describe the process of putting Mixing Colours together, the power of collaboration and why humour has to be at the heart of everything they do. 

Brian Eno, known as the father of ambient music, has of course worked with many big names over the decades, including David Bowie, Roxy Music, and David Lynch. Roger Eno, a composer, pianist and multi-instrumentalist has worked with artists such as No-Man, Kate St John, Bill Nelson and many more. A ten-year age gap between them, Brian and Roger have also worked together many times, including on last year’s revamp of the 1983 Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks. But Mixing Colours, an experimental 18-track album, has been an on-off work in progress for 15 years and the organic way in which it’s been put together fits the vibe of it perfectly.

The idea to make an album of these things was quite recent, given that we started this in 2005 or even earlier than that,” says Brian. “It was only about last year that we thought that this could sound good as a collection.”

Roger and Brian Eno

The tracks were composed by Roger initially as experiments that soon turned into something bigger. “I like times when there’s a liminality between states, so either when you wake up or you’re so drunk you don’t quite know what you’re doing,” he explains. “So [the tracks] were started in the early morning, I’d wake up and begin playing, deliberately not self-editing.” He would then send the compositions as MIDI files over to Brian, who then built them into the serene sonic landscapes heard on the album.