June 2020 and we were to perform Orchestra of Samples at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris this month for the launch of their new online magazine Humanities Arts and Society, the event was unfortunately postponed because of the Coronavirus situation. If you’re unfamiliar, UNESCO are an agency for the United Nations, and their name is an acronym for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, they encourage international peace and collaborations among nations.
Having become the first musician to ever achieve world respected solo-percussionist status, awarded an OBE in 1993 and then made a Dame in 2007, we’re not sure where to start with Dame Evelyn, apart from saying it’s an absolute honour to have her as part of Orchestra of Samples!
From collaborating with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Bjork and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler to performing with Underworld at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, world class virtuoso percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie isn’t an artist to be easily pigeonholed.
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.
We’ve just performed Orchestra of Samples in Paris at the world famous Musée du Quai Branly, the prestigious museum of world cultures by the Eiffel Tower! The night was part of their weekend L’Afrique des Routes (Africa on the Road), closing the museum’s year long Africa exhibition.
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.
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!
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.
We first saw South African artist Anna Alcock’s beautiful artwork in 2014 in an art exhibition at her Inky Cuttlefish Studios in East London. We immediately thought her style of artwork would be great for an Orchestra of Samples album cover.
It’s not often you get asked to perform in a cathedral!
This year, events at Coventry’s Festival of Imagineers took place in the ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral, heavily bombed during Word War 2. We were scheduled to perform Orchestra of Samples outdoors in the ruins but due to rain the festival had to move many of the days events inside the new cathedral right next door. Alejandro de Valera, our long time French guitarist, came over from Paris to join us on this one, playing his self-built fretless guitar.
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.
Awesome awesome night! Always great to play on home turf, not just the UK but the good old East End of London! Guesting with us were members of afrobeat/world/jazz/funk band Yaaba Funk – both percussionists Clive Wales and Paul Brett and the superb trumpet player Byron Wallen, often cited as one of the best trumpeters in the World.
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!
Hello Rome…! Performed Orchestra of Samples at the Romaeuropa Festival last night. Amazing night performing the show with the guys from Frank Sent Us. Great piece in the Italian Corriere della Sera newpaper this morning!
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…
Hola España! It’s the third time we’ve been asked back to perform at the Abycine Film Festival in Albacete in Spain, and it’s always such a fantastic event! This time we performed Orchestra of Samples at the gala opening night of the festival, at the spectactular Teatro Circo de Albacete – one of only six existing 19th Century theatres of its kind left in the world. It’s the second time we’ve performed the project in Spain and French guitarist Alejandro de Valera once again joined us on stage. Was also great to see the peice in the local paper the following morning over breakfast…!
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 up with 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.