It’s February 2020 and we’re working on a different project recording traditional instruments in Indonesia supported by The British Council’s Connections Through Culture programme, collaborating with Indonesian artist Tesla Manaf (aka Kuntari – who’ll we host next month in London at Plugged, the event we’re involved with). The artists we recorded in Indonesia were all fascinated by the concept of Orchestra of Samples and were also happy to be part of the project too, which was great as we hadn’t recorded in Indonesia, although have performed in Jakarta some years ago.
During our Tamil Nadu trip in India, we decided to visit neighbouring Auroville – the experimental township founded in the late 1960s, when back then a roughly 5000 acre site of wasteland was chosen to build a future community on. In February 2018 Auroville celebrated its 50th anniversary and Indian President Ram Nath Kovind called it “a unique symbol of human unity.”
January 2020, and while taking a holiday in Tamil Nadu, in South India, to visit our musician friend Perumal Varudaraj, we decided to travel to Pondicherry.
While there we took the opportunity to meet up with Yatra Arts – a film, theatre and photography studio who produce media projects but also, through their Yatra Art and Culture Foundation…
July 2019 and we were asked to once again play at the amazing Timitar Festival in Agadir, Morocco, so took the opportunity to record that most Moroccan of instruments – the Ribab (which we didn’t record last time we were here in 2014).
Croatia… a wonderful country we had wanted to record in for a long time, particularly with its traditional instruments from bagpipes to long-necked tamburica lutes. For info, a number of tamburicas were developed in Croatia and Serbia near the end of the 19th century and took their name from the Persian tanbur, which we happened to have recorded in Turkey – see here.
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.
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!
Last week, during our current tour, we played a wonderful date in the small UK town of Borden at their Phoenix Arts Centre, where rapper Matt Malone and long-time collaborator and percussionist Paul Gunter joined us for the performance. After rehearsals we took the opportunity to record a session with Paul, who’s played so many times with us but still hadn’t been recorded for sampling!
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.
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…
Spring 2016 and we returned to China for some dates, including at the well known Club Tango in Beijing and a festival in the coastal city of Xiamen, but also to perform some of our our movie remixes at the opening of the GMIC16, the Global Mobile Internet Conference in – quite incredibly – the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing (short video clip below).
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.