Orchestra of Samples has been a huge undertaking! Nine years spent recording musicians improvising around the world, while on the road performing. We wanted to create a project that brought together as many musicians as possible from all backgrounds, both cultural and musical – an impractical task in the real world but not in the digital world of sampling!
So taking recording equipment with us on nearly every gig or trip abroad for years, we filmed hundreds of musicians from countries, among many others, Brazil, Mexico and India to Senegal, across Europe, China, Kazakhstan and The Philippines, even Egypt during the Arab Spring revolution. We also became artist-in-residence with a few venues over the years, connecting us with dozens of artists for recording sessions, from places including Togo, Cameroon, Rwanda and Algeria. We then cut up thousands of recorded samples, creating new music, recontextualising musicians as if they played together, when in reality none of them ever met or heard recordings from each other.
Musicians didn’t play in a pre-defined key, they all just improvised and the creative process was simply to just see which samples worked together. Then afterwards, in some cases, we wrote or collaborated and added lyrics. Orchestra of Samples is an exploration into serendipity, it’s about bringing people and very different instruments together. Working outside of usual musical conventions has really helped discover incredibly unexpected combinations of those instruments – some of which many of us didn’t even know of, such as the dombyra, the boudègue, a cristal baschet or tanbur and many others!
For the live shows, musicians often join the project on stage, and this has included world-famous deaf percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, Indian sitar virtuoso Baluji Shrivastav OBE, tabla player Kuljit Bhamra MBE, jazz trombonist Dennis Rollins MBE, fiddle player and BBC young musician of the year Shona Mooney, Stomp percussionist Paul Gunter, award-winning Beatbox Collective, fretless guitar specialist Alejandro de Valera, French rapper Edgar Sekloka (aka Suga) and many others.
With massive thanks to everyone who supported us and believed in the project, including venue partners, funding bodies, Stuart Fortune, Fu at Dog & Rabbit and of course every single ultra-talented musician who took part – we quite literally would not have been able to create this without you!