Orchestra of Samples has been a huge undertaking! Twelve years spent recording musicians around the world, during tours and performing internationally. We wanted to create a project that brought together as many musicians as we could from all backgrounds, both cultural and musical – an impractical task in the real world but not in the world of digital sampling.
So taking recording equipment with us on nearly every gig for many years, we filmed recording sessions with over two hundred musicians in countries from Brazil, Kazakhstan and China to India, Senegal and Indonesia, all across Europe, even Egypt during the revolution. We also became artist-in-residence with a few venues in France over the years, connecting us with dozens of artists from Togo, Cameroon, Rwanda and Algeria. We cut up literally 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.
Addictive TV’s Graham Daniels explains more in this video for UNESCO’s Humanities Arts & Society online platform.
No tracks were written beforehand, the samples dictated the direction in the studio, musicians all just improvised and our creative process was simply to find the samples which worked together. In some cases we later wrote or collaborated with others to add lyrics.
Orchestra of Samples is about bringing people together, connecting cultures, blending instruments that wouldn’t normally be heard together and introducing audiences to instruments they may not know. Working outside of normal musical conventions has opened our eyes and helped discover incredibly unexpected combinations of sounds!
Having toured the project for a few years prior, an Orchestra of Samples album was released in 2017, with lino-carved cover artwork by South African artist Anna Alcock, who also created covers for a series of new singles released in 2021. The project has toured the UK, most notably at both WOMAD and Celtic Connections festivals, and has been performed internationally including at both Centre Pompidou and Quai Branly Museum in Paris, the Erarta Museum in St Petersburg, Mexico City’s Centro Nacional de las Artes and at Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Arts for the closing night of Italy’s prestigious Romaeuropa Festival. Live guests performing on the show have included percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, jazz trombonist Dennis Rollins MBE, trumpet player Byron Wallen, fiddle player and BBC young musician of the year Shona Mooney, sitarist Baluji Shrivastav OBE, Stomp percussionist Paul Gunter, French rapper Suga, tabla virtuoso Kuljit Bhamra MBE, the award-winning Beatbox Collective with rapper MC Zani, fretless guitar virtuoso Alejandro de Valera, Tunisian percussionist Seifeddine Helal and Iranian percussionist Arian Sadr.
Thank you to all the venue partners, funding bodies and all the supremely talented musicians who took part – we quite literally would not have been able to create this project without you!
Here’s the album…