Addictive TV are a group of artists who are well-known in the world of audio-visual sampling. They’ve performed internationally, remixed movies as alternative trailers, created adverts for TV, and for over a decade have been working on their project Orchestra of Samples, recording and sampling musicians around the world.
Ahead of an upcoming gig in Ipswich, I chatted with lead member and one of the founders (of both Addictive TV and Orchestra of Samples), Graham Daniels. Previously a VJ, creating the visuals in clubs and festivals, he admits, “I always wanted to do music, but involving images, and that’s where it began… we were experimenting with sampling films, cutting them up and making tracks, and it just became quite popular.”
Before long, videos were being made regularly and around 2005, a Hollywood studio came knocking with an opportunity to remix a film. Since then, they’ve worked on blockbuster films like Iron Man, Fast and Furious and Slumdog Millionaire, and have created adverts for Channel 4 and Channel 5.
Their live project Orchestra of Samples slowly built-up after the band decided they wanted to connect with local artists and musicians whilst touring and travelling. The archive of recordings of musicians captured whilst on the road by the band gradually turned into a huge pool of material to sample from. It’s been non-stop ever since, having now recorded nearly three-hundred musicians in over thirty countries.
In terms of how the recordings come to be, Graham shares the process: “We start researching beforehand, such as via Facebook or any connections we have, looking for musicians and artists in that city. We often write to music schools too, so teachers and students get involved. People often also introduce us to musician friends of theirs, so it becomes a real varied and mixed bag.”
The band do the filming and recording themselves and admit creating the entire archive can be seen as a daunting process, but as Graham remarks, “If you’re dedicated, you want to do it. I guess that’s how over the years, we’ve managed to record so many people”.
The process of creating a track or performance isn’t a simple one though, “We just look for the instruments that work together; it’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but without knowing what the picture looks like” Graham quips, “When we create tracks we’re very much led by the samples, you think ‘Oh, I really like the sound of that, I wonder if it will fit with instrument X or Y’ and you start going through the thousands of samples to see what matches and works. It’s a hybrid of genres and it’s definitely in a weird league of its own!”
The group has also worked on plenty of projects, including with the Royal Docks, the London Borough of Culture and the Liberty EU Project, working with refugee musicians playing traditional instruments.
In 2021 they were fortunate enough to receive funding from Arts Council England, creating more opportunities for musicians by recording them for Orchestra of Samples, leading to a lot of recordings across Manchester, Sheffield and London and releasing a series of singles last year.
“We’ve got an enormous amount of material that we want to release, so we’ll be looking at doing an album, hopefully within the next year or so, but we’re just about to release something in February actually, which is another project we made during the pandemic,” Graham says.
During the pandemic they also seized the opportunity, like many performers, to do a few performances online, including at an online festival. But in regards to live shows, Graham admits he’s “definitely been missing meeting people, travelling, and seeing different places. Being on the road, there’s something about it that I really love. Even though it’s good to be busy creating material and recording, it’s the performing that you miss”.
Speaking of which, Orchestra of Samples will be at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich on Saturday 22nd January, and while Graham admits he’s visited the town before and has also performed just over the border a few times in Norwich at the Arts Centre (as well as picking up some recordings in the city), this is his first time having played in Ipswich. He adds, “I’m really looking forward to it. It looks like an incredible venue!”
The group is also doing a pre-show talk ahead of the show. Graham explains, “Whilst you can just go see it and enjoy it, quite often people will miss the nuances of how we’ve actually made it, the DIY nature of many of the recording sessions. We’ve recorded people in parks, on rooftops, in their homes, in back gardens, in hotel rooms, on the streets and all sorts! The pre-show talks give people a much greater insight into the project, and, in many ways, they can appreciate and understand it more.”
Given they’ve worked with so many artists, I couldn’t resist enquiring about some highlights and dream collaborations. Graham shares that, “Working with Dame Evelyn Glennie was fantastic; she’s just an incredible artist. It’s been it’s been a real pleasure to work with a lot of people, and someone we’ve done a few things with is Dennis Rollins MBE. He’s a fantastic trombonist, and it would be great to create an entire project with him, but hopefully we will perform with him again. But otherwise, there’s just too many out there to pick just one from so many musicians and artists!”
Catch Orchestra of Samples at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich on Saturday 22nd January: wolseytheatre.co.uk/orchestra-of-samples.
For more information visit: orchestraofsamples.com.