Inspired by the thirty year old concept of the European Capital of Culture and the more recent UK City of Culture programmes, London Mayor Sadiq Khan in early 2017 announced the brand new initiative of London Borough of Culture. And with London being the size it is, what a great idea! 22 out of London’s 32 boroughs entered their bids and in February 2018 it was announced that Waltham Forest was the winner to become London’s first ever Borough of Culture. And this just happens to be where we’re based!
September saw us perform at the Soundtrack Festival in the Czech Republic in the spa town of Poděbrady, about 50km east of Prague. Headlining the festival was French composer and soundtrack megastar Eric Serra, who’s composed the scores for films incuding The Fifth Element, Nikita and James Bond movie Golden Eye – it was an absolute pleasure to meet him and see him perform live.
We’re in France, taking the opportunity to meet and record the incredible multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Bras from the website Rare and Strange Instruments. We’d both become aware of each other and our respective projects in the last couple of years, realising we also know a lot of people in common… so heading over to Paris seemed the natural thing to do! His rather well known Facebook page now has over half a million followers and (in his words) is “dedicated to every unusual, creative, traditional, forgotten, experimental and original musical instrument”. You’ll no doubt know someone who follows his page and a short video posted there of someone on a mountain playing a bizarre instrument has surely turned up in your feed at some point!
March 2018 and we were in Germany, performing at the MicroB Festival in Mannheim (did you know Mannheim is where both the very first bicycle and very first car were invented? Bet you didn’t!). We hadn’t been back to Germany for quite some time and so hadn’t recorded anyone there for Orchestra of Samples, so took the opportunity to hook up with Germany’s only school for rappers and it’s boss, rapper Likkle T aka Tobias Schirneck.
Having played together countless times and knowing France’s premiere mashup DJ for well over a decade, DJ Zebra is finally part of Orchestra of Samples! DJ Zebra is singer-songwriter and musician Antoine Minnie. He’s most famous for being France’s leading mashup artist and one of the pillars of the bootleg / mashup scene worldwide – alongside DJs like Partyben, DJ Earworm and Addictive TV’s own Mark Vidler aka Go Home Productions.
October 2017 and we were asked to play at computer game Dota2’s All Star Weekend in Manila, The Philippines, at the huge Mall of Asia Arena. Alongside gamers competing with each other and artists from rapper Travie McCoy to New York dance act Kinjaz, we performed to the crowd, cutting-up Dota2 and at one point were joined by Travie McCoy himself who scratched on our Dota2 remix with us!
It’s October 2017 and we’re working on an amazing project with blind sitar master Baluji Shrivastav, funded by Unlimited – the arts body who support projects by disabled artists. Baluji also heads the UK’s only blind ensemble of musicians, the Inner Vision Orchestra, some members of which who’ve also taken part in our Orchestra of Samples project, including Baluji himself. We’ve worked with Baluji a number of times and he’s always been fascinated by what we do, and earlier this year he asked if we could be involved in his new project Antardrishti, a project on the subject of ‘inner vision’.
As Midge Ure from Ultravox once famously sang “ohhhhh Vienna”… well, what a beautiful city. We hadn’t been for quite a few years, but last week we were in Vienna, performing Orchestra of Samples at the Playground Festival there, we were joined on stage by percussionist Simon Neuwirth, who really knew how to get rhythms out of his djembe!
Early January 2017 and we were performing Orchestra of Samples in Colombia, in the beautiful South American tropical coastal city of Cartagena for a special event organised by the Lux Festival. The event was held…
We were asked to perform Orchestra of Samples in Colombia’s coastal city of Cartagena in early January 2017 and having known a number of very talented Colombians in the UK and France, the huge South American country was…
One of the occasions in Orchestra of Samples where lyrics have been especially written for a track created from improvised samples, Joe Publik – who’s travelled almost as much as we have – instantly understood and… connected with the project and it was great working with him.
Time to record some more vocals! Last year in East London we supported afrobeat group Yaaba Funk and their friends, including the incredible trumpet player Byron Wallen and singer Helen McDonald.
Summer 2016 and we performed Orchestra of Samples in the UK city of Leicester for the Journeys Festival, who’d introduced us to Iranian percussionist, composer and producer Arian Sadr, who performed the show with us. So given a…
May 2016 and we were in China for some dates, including performing at the opening of the GMIC16, the Global Mobile Internet Conference, in (quite incredibly) the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing (watch the video below) and at Club Tango, also in the capital.
In July 2015 we headed to Poland to perform Orchestra of Samples at the Visegrad Wave Festival, which is also known as Festiwal Z Wiejskiego Podwórza (and roughly translates as the countryside or rural yard festival). It takes place in the beautiful town of Czeremcha in East Poland…,
June 2015 saw us play at the Sonidos Liquidos festival in Lanzarote, in the Spanish Canary Islands. While there we were introduced to Toñín Corujo, who plays timple (pronoucned timp-lay) – a traditional Canarian small guitar-like instrument from the ukulele family.
An inspirational and innovative musical force to so many, including ourselves, Stereolab’s front woman Laetitia Sadier was a natural choice to approach to be part of Orchestra of Samples and working with her was a joy.
After knowing the guys from Italian AV act Frank Sent Us for more than a decade, and having played at many festivals together, often one of us supporting the other, we’d still never collaborated or actually performed together!
Never away long from Paris, November 2014 saw us head back to the French capital for a weeklong artist-in-residence with the digital arts venue MISS – the Maison de l’Image et du Signe de Sevran. Over the week we filmed a couple of…
An Orchestra of Samples recording session with a difference! We spent a long and facinating day recording 80’s icons Wang Chung and their musical inventor friend and Bjork collaborator Henry Dagg and his Sharpsichord! It was the 1980’s and UK band Wang Chung had their massive hit Dance Hall Days, but outside the UK the band had even greater success in the USA with a string of Top 40 hits. Interestingly, their name means “yellow bell” in Chinese and is the first note in the Chinese classical music scale.
The Beatbox Collective – are a group of top UK beatbox talent, many of them award winners in their respective styles, who all came together to form one high impact and energetic collective! Originally formed in 2011 when they were commissioned by the Shambala Festival to create an exclusive main stage performance, they’ve since gained members, doing the rounds at UK festivals, including Glastonbury, Bestival and Lovebox to name a few. With the group, never are two shows the same and often the line-up of beatboxers is different. For this recording session we had to pleasure of filming four of them…
After filming musicians in more than 25 countries, we’re now recording sessions on home turf! So headed to Islington in London to spend the day with some of the amazing Inner Vision Orchestra, whose members are all blind! The brain child of blind Indian maestro Baluji Shrivastav, he’s brought together musicians from around the world, with the aim of proving that music really does have the power to transform lives – especially for people without sight, as sound is their way of interacting with the world. The orchestra play everything from Western classical to Indian and world music, some members even played at the London 2012 Paralympic Closing Ceremony.
We’re always looking for artists playing unusual instruments to be part of the project, and recently met London based Italian artist Bruno Zamborlin who’s invented a device called Mogees which turns everyday objects into unique musical instruments!
Orchestra of Samples is about music without borders, and in early 2014 the Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival commissioned us to record Northumbrian and Scottish musicians for a performance of the project at their September ‘border crossing’ themed festival, tying in with the vote on Scottish independence.