Poppy Ackroyd is a London-born, Brighton-based composer, pianist, and violinist. She not only plays her instruments conventionally, but employs drumsticks, e-bows, picks, and all five fingers on both hands to pluck and scrape them, creating unusual timbres and textures. She uses both the insides and outsides of her instruments, then manipulates and multi-tracks her sounds via a computer and a live microphone. Despite her very physical approach to composing and performing, the music she creates is intricate, delicate, and lyrical. With the exception of some economically layered field recordings, virtually all of the music she makes comes from her two instruments.
Classically trained, Ackroyd possesses a Master’s degree in music for piano performance. She is a student of modern piano music and is also a full-time member of the Hidden Orchestra. Ackroyd has collaborated with dancers, choreographers, actors, poets, filmmakers, and videographers. Her debut album, Escapement, appeared on Denovali in late 2012. A DVD version of the album, with visuals by Bristol-based audio-visual artist Lumen, was released in September of 2014. Ackroyd’s second album, Feathers, soon followed. Expanding on the unique sound of her debut, the album’s compositions featured parts for a few additional instruments, including harmonium and harpsichord, as well as cello by guest musician Su-a Lee.
In 2017, Ackroyd signed to One Little Indian and released The Birds, an EP containing acoustic piano reworkings of pieces from her first two albums. All three of the EP’s tracks were included on full-length Sketches, which included reworkings of previous compositions as well as rough cuts of four newer pieces that were later included on her February 2018 album Resolve. Ackroyd played both upright and grand piano on the date, as well the inside of the instruments using fingers, drumsticks, and plectrums (fingerpicks) – and then arranged and multi-tracked the resulting sounds. She employed the same technique to record herself on violin, pianino, harmonium, and spinet, and to record other musicians who played cello, flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet.