With east London’s Big Creative Academy supporting Orchestra of Samples with the use of their recording studios, we organised a filming and recording session with Saul Eisenberg aka The Junk Orchestra. From performing, teaching and workshopping to appearing on numerous television shows, The Junk Orchestra rock ‘n’ recycle a huge collection of re-invented objects all salvaged from “the industries of the sprawling metropolis” as he puts it!
Having set-up recording sessions with both multi-instrumentalist Andrew Cronshaw and duduk player Tigran Aleksanyan, both introduced us to their fellow musician friend Ian Blake. A talented composer and producer himself, Ian plays woodwinds, keyboards and bass, and we recorded him improvising on bass clarinet and soprano sax.
We were incredibly pleased to be introduced to British multi-instrumentalist Andrew Cronshaw, who plays a wonderful range of non-mainstream instruments, and we recorded him playing three: a 74-stringed electrified chord zither; then a fujara (a nearly 2 metre long 3-hole overtone vertical whistle from central Slovakia); and a marovantele (a double sided 44-stringed hybrid of Finnish kantele and Madagascan marovany which Andrew designed himself).
Continuing with our 2021 UK recordings, particularly looking for lesser known instruments, we read about Armenian duduk player Tigran Aleksanyan, so decided to get in touch. He’s one of few people in the UK who’s a master of the ancient Armenian instrument, which is a double reeded oboe-like woodwind hollowed out of apricot wood; it has a beautifully melancholic sound. We also recorded him playing pku, the single-reeded horn.
In early 2021, with the pandemic and resulting lockdowns continuing, we were fortunate to receive funding from Arts Council England to further develop Orchestra of Samples, so began organising recording sessions with musicians in the UK, starting in London while lockdown limited our travel.
For over a year, working with East London community music project Stow-lab, we’ve been co-organising a series of music events and workshops called Plugged, with the ethos of connecting people through music. We were also successful in receiving funding from Arts Council England to organise a whole programme of events.
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!
It’s the summer of the long heatwave! The last 2018 UK tour gigs before the summer break saw us perform Orchestra of Samples in the UK towns of Milton Keynes at the IF: Milton Keynes International Festival with Dame Evelyn Glennie, in Horsham where 2018 BBC Young Musician of the Year finalist Toril Azzalini-Machecler joined us and in Harwich at the Harwich Festival of the Arts, performing in one of the oldest cinemas in the world, the beautiful Electric Palace built in 1911 (we also happen to be the last artists to perform there, as it’s now undergoing a huge restoration).
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.
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…
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.
Well, what a fantastc review from Cultured Vultures! Click here to go to the article… but a few choice extracts below…
“I’ve been to a lot of live events and seen and heard some fairly unique things… Nothing could prepare me for Orchestra of Samples though.”
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.
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.
From performing with Shakira to working on Bend it Like Beckham, virtuoso tabla player Kuljit Bhamra is one of the most influential musicians, composers and producers on the British Asian music scene. A pioneer of the worldwide…
As well as playing at the launch of her 2012 UK tour, joining Mixmaster Morris and Plaid, we also took the opportunity to hook up and record old friend Coppé, the delightfully sweet and eccentric Japanese electronic music producer/singer-songwriter, while she was in the UK.