Michael Stipe has released his first new material since R.E.M split in 2011.

The 54-year-old singer has returned with an instrumental piece recorded to accompany bonus footage from his friend Tom Gilroy's film 'The Cold Lands'.

In an interview with salon.com, Michael admitted: “This is not what people want to hear from me. But that's want I want to offer, so...”

The star admits he did feel pressure when working on the project but insists he had no intention of singing.

He explained: “If there was a singer, it wouldn't have been me. I would have found someone. That's not just being ornery. It's just that I don't want to do it right now.”

Michael and Tom have been friends and collaborators for more than three decades, having worked on a wide range of film, music and political projects.

Michael said writing the material felt “like a great first project” after the band - also made up of Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry - went their separate ways.

He said: “I wouldn't call it a song. I'd call it a soundtrack or a musical piece. Yeah, of course it's a big deal, but so is my friendship with Tom and so is 'The Cold Lands'. It was something I wanted to do and I wanted to stretch and challenge myself a little bit. And I do love music.”

Asked if his latest project means he's working on more new music, he replied: “I don't know. Let's put a giant parenthesis around that,” adding, “I love music. I think it's an immensely moving form for me, but how do I apply that to where I am now?”

Michael is classing the project as his first new music since R.E.M. disbanded, though he teamed up with Hole singer Courtney Love on 'Rio Grande' last year. – Bang Showbiz