Abstract Orchestra: Hip-Hop From A Classical Perspective  

Leeds-based collective ‘Abstract Orchestra‘ have been crafting beautiful renditions of some of hip hop‘s finest producers covering giants  like Dilla, madlib, Doom, AS WELL AS collaborating with Illa. Abstract ORCHESTRA have developed a truly unique and  uplifting soundscape that will leave you wANting more every time.  James Kennaby A.K.A (Vice Beats) caught up with Abstract Orchestra‘S’ conductor and composer Rob Mitchell to find out more:

How would you describe your music? 

Simply put, we call it Orchestrated Hip-Hop.

How did Abstract Orchestra come into fruition?

A few years ago, me and a friend Dave Walked, sat down, AND put our heads together TO came up with the concept. Dave builds saxophones and has a music shop in Leeds, he has real roots within UK music and has done for 20+ years. Weirdly, we had both had a similar idea independently and WE decided to go for it. 

Where does the name come from?

I have so many favourite Abstracts like “Blues and the abstract truth” by Oliver Nelson. ‘abstract’ by Joe Harriott and Kamaal. The Abstract of course. I also like the word because it’s difficult to pin down, it’s not tangible, it’s different. I think it will work well for us because it means we can approach things and not let a name dictate our direction. The ‘ORCHESTRA’ BIT PROBABLY MAKES SENSE!

You’ve covered some true legends of Hip-Hop, who else is on the horizon?

THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC OUT THERE THAT WOULD WORK WELL IN THIS FORMAT. BECAUSE WE HAVE ALREADY DONE A LOT OF LOOKING BACK I THINK I WOULD LIKE TO WORK WITH CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS. I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE GET WHAT WE DO BECAUSE IT MAKES A HIP-HOP SHOW SPECIAL IN A DIFFERENT WAY. LAST YEAR WE TOURED WITH SLUM VILLAGE AND THAT RESULTED IN US REWORKING THEIR ALBUM (FANTASTIC 2020 VOL. 1 &2)! THEIR MUSIC, AND OF COURSE J DILLA, IS THE SPIRIT AND ETHOS OF OUR MUSIC. 

How do you create your songs, do you have a solid idea before or does it usually evolve from jamming?

I WRITE ALL OUR ARRANGEMENTS MYSELF, USUAlLY SCRIBBLING IDEAS DOWN AT THE PIANO AND THEN SCORING THEM UP ON THE COMPUTER. I USUALLY WORK VERY INTENSELY, SO THE ‘MADVILLAIN’ ARRANGEMENTS WERE ALL WRITTEN UP WITHIN A 48 HOUR WINDOw. YER, NOT MUCH SLEEP! HOWEVER IT IS ALWAYS THE BAND’S INTERPRETATIONS OF THE SONGS THAT MAKES THEM COMe ALIVE. 

What’s your proudest musical moment to date?

FOR ME IT HAS TO BE RECORDIng WITH ILLA J. SUCH AN INCREDIBLE TALENT AND AUTHORITY ON THE MUSIC, PLUS A STRAIGHT UP AMAZING GUY. IT WAS INSPIRING GETTINg A CHANCE TO WorK WITH HIM AnD I HOPE TO WORK WITH hIM AGAIN. 

What’s next for Abstract Orchestra

I’VE BEEN GIVEN  THE GREEN LIGHT TO EXPLORE THE BACK CATaLOGUE OF OUR RECORD LABEL ATA RECORDS. SO I’M GOING TO  DO A SAMPLE-BASED ALBUM USING MY MPC BUT INCLUDE THE ORCHESTRA IN PLACES TO COMPLIMENT IT. THE IDEA IS TO INVITE SOME MC’S ON IT, SO I GUESS THIS IS KIND OF AN ORIGINALS ALBUM! PLUS WE WILL BE RELEASING THE VINYL FOR ‘FANTASTIC 2020.’

What does the classical world think of your work?

WE STARTED OFf WORKING WITH ‘LY5TH AVENUE RECENTLY ON HIS DR. DRE PROJECT, WE HAD TO EXPAND THE BAND BY ADDING STRINGS AND SOME EXTRA HORNS, ALL BORrOWED FROM THE CLASSICAL WORLD. THEY LOVED IT! I’D LIKE TO EXPLORE THIS LARGER SIZED ENSEMBLE AGAIN IN THE FUTURE AS IT WAS A MAD SOUND. 

Lastly mat, where can everyone find your music?

tHE USUAL PLACES: APPLE MUSIC, SPOTIFY, YOUTUBE, BANDCAMP AND ALL THAT GOOD STUFF.


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