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Welcome Orbital!
Old 3rd March 2017
Post Welcome Orbital!

We're very proud to present to you a Q&A session with Paul and Phil Hartnoll AKA Orbital, right as they are getting together.
It's impossble to include everything but I'll try to present you a brief overview of their extensive releases and body of work.

Paul and Phil grew up in Kent, England, listening to punk and electro. Phil worked as a bricklayer and Paul worked various jobs, like washing dishes, and he played in the band Noddy & The Satellites. From 1987 on they started making music, using a 4-track cassette recorder, a drum machine and some keyboards.
Welcome Orbital!-orbital_1994.jpg
Some friends of mine were into house music and they'd say 'Listen to this, this new thing,' and I'd listen to it and say 'It's not new. It's electro and hi-NRG mixed together. It's great, but it's not new.' Anyway, I got right into the whole house music scene and started creating some stuff of my own, and my friends thought it was really good. Paul Hartnoll (source: Sound on Sound Classic Tracks)
They recorded the track "Chime" (in a cupboard under the stairs of their parents' home) in 1989 on their father's cassette deck after the 4-track was stolen, and submitted it to DJ Jazzy M's to play in his record shop. (Ministry of Sound, radio DJ) In december it was released on his brand new label Oh-Zone Records and on ffrr Records (at that time under management of Pete Tong) the following year. It was an instant rave hit, played everywhere, and it reached the top twenty of the UK charts. Paul and Phil made an appearance on the tv show Top of the Pops, wearing anti-Poll Tax t-shirts. They started touring in april of 1990, first gig from a Garage in highbury & Islington in London. It would be followed by many more: Orbital is about live gigs.

By the early summer of 1989, when 'Chime' was first recorded, Paul Hartnoll's home setup consisted of a Roland TR909 drum machine, Roland TB303 and SH09 synths, a Yamaha DX100 synth, an Akai S700 sampler, an Alesis MMT8 sequencer, a small mono Boss delay and a Yamaha four-track.
"The Yamaha was like a second-generation cassette four-track with a double-speed option and six inputs," he recalls. "I used to overdub bass, lead guitar, keyboards, drum machines and lots of effects, and I just sort of learned my craft from there upwards. What's more, somebody who I knew but won't name — for libel reasons — burgled our house, and this really helped me because with the insurance money I was able to buy much better stuff. A Roland MC202 synth went missing along with a Tascam four-track, a Korg Poly 800, a TR707 drum machine and a DX100, but in their place I was able to buy an Akai S700 sampler and a second-hand DX100.
"The S700 sampler was the main thing to come out of the robbery. That's what really opened up our sound, it's what we'd been looking for, and after that it was one step between there and 'Chime'. Basically, what happened to me appeared to be the same as what happened to a lot of people in Detroit. You couldn't afford a DX7, so you bought a DX100; you couldn't afford a 707, so you bought a 909 — you were getting all the cheaper versions, but actually those machines created the sound of techno and house music. At least that's how it seemed to me. The whole Detroit scene appeared to be built on cheap instruments. I used to like house music, but it was a little too 'soul' for me, a little too much half-baked vocals and dodgy pianos. But then, when I heard the whole Detroit thing, it was like 'Ah, that's it now. That's what I've been looking for.' That and acid house were the things that really got me going." Paul Hartnoll (source: Sound on Sound Classic Tracks)
"One thing I've always done is live recordings," explains Paul. "Even most of our albums were recorded from the equipment on to a DAT in stereo through a mixer. I've never gone to tape and then mixed from that — with technology that just seems pointless, really.Paul Hartnoll (source: Sound on Sound Classic Tracks)
ffrr Records then signed the two brothers. The next gig they did as Orbital was in Town and Country 2 in Islington. Their band was named after the orbital motorway, around London, the M25 on which all the partypeople drove to the acid house raves every weekend. They released a number of tracks after that, incl. the track "Satan" with a sample from the Butthole Surfers, which reached the 31st spot in the charts. They released their first, untitled LP in september 1991 which was a collection of songs. In the next year, The Mutations EP was a remix album from Meat Beat Manifesto, Moby and joey Beltram. It was released by ffrr in the USA the next year. Orbital then remixed MMM's "Edge of No Control" and rewoked songs from Queen Latifah, The Shamen (Mr C), and EMF. They then released the EP Radiccio, on Internal Records in the UK, which contained the original release of the song "Halcion". It featured a reversed sample from Kirsty Hawkshaw's (Opus III) "It's a Fine Day". The song was dedicated to their mother who had been addicted to the tranquiliser Halcion for years.

The second LP titled "Orbital" or "Orbital 2" (US release) really showed the two brothers had progressed in their craft, with synthesized soundscapes that was to become their sound. They included track "Time Becomes" made with a detuned, looped sample from the tv show Star Trek TNG which was also what their previous album had started off with. It was also called the "Brown Album" after the colour of the record sleeve. It reached a 28 album chart spot. "Halcion" was remixed for this album as "Halcion + On + On". Whenever they played this track live, they added various samples like "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi and other not so very techno music.
Throughout this 1991-1993 period they played a lot (50) of live gigs, taking their set to festivals and clubs already with the trademark double head-mounted torchlights. Notable are the 1993 "Megadog MIDI Circus Tour" (UK) and the "See The Light" tour in the USA with Moby, Aphex Twin and Vapourspace (Mark Gage), the same year.

1994 proved the year that Orbital achieved a breakthrough as a top notch live techno act. Instead of relying on pre-recorded backups they had pulled off improvised live sets.
They also recorded the "Diversions" EP and the "Peel Sessions" EP, live at the BBC Maida Vale Studios, showcasing what they had been doing on stage.
That summer, they headlined on the Woodstock 2, Roskilde, Quart and the Glasonbury Festival (and many more). After the summer they started their first solo tour "Are We Here?" in the UK and mainland Europe.
Videos of the epic Glastonbury performance sold like hotcakes, in the recordshops (where also tickets were sold back then) and appeared years later in club chillout rooms. They recorded a live set for MTV's Partyzone august that year.

Welcome Orbital!-maida-vale-studios-four_goed.jpg
Welcome Orbital!-glastonbury.jpg
The album "Snivilisation" was released the same year after the USA only EP "Diversions". Snivilisation featured vocals of Alison Goldfrapp on two of the tracks. It also included a track titled “Criminal Justice Bill?”, which was 4 minutes of silence, in protest to the Criminal Justice and Public Oreder Act of 1994 (the notorious "rave bill") which gave government the justification to destroy the rave culture in the UK, in which Orbital had their origins. The next year Orbital releaseed their "The Times Fly" EP with a rework of the song "Sad but True". They appeared on the festival of Glastonbury again as well as Sonar in Barcelona, Torhout, Werchter and the "Tribal Gathering" both in the UK and in Germany.
Welcome Orbital!-orbital-1995.jpg
Next up was another hugely popular electronic music release called "The Box" (1996), a 28 minute track. It was four distinct movements with vocal versions by lyricist Grant Fulton and Alison Goldfrapp. On the Album "In Sides", Orbital released deeper atmospheric tracks. As with the previous album Paul and Phil didn't shy away from topics, critical of society and from warnings for a pending ecological disaster (video release of "The Box"). The song ‘The Girl With The Sun In Her Head’ advocated the use of solar power. The release From May to Jne they toured the UK and Europe, from june to december the USA (Stateside). Videos below include a live performance recorded for the BBC and the "Somewhere out there" track from the "Satan Live" album

For the movie remake Orbital made a new version of the theme song of the cult classic tv-show "The Saint" which reached the number 3 position in the UK charts.
The Sci-Fi horror movie "Event Horizon" (which scared the **** out of me) also featured a soundtrack from Orbital and Michael Kamen.

That year Orbital visited the Tribal Gathering in the UK and toured the Lollapalooza tour in the summer.

In 1998 Phil and Paul returned to the studio. No gigs were planned and they worked on their new album "The Middle of Nowhere", which was released on ffrr Records in 1999.
It included again vocals by Alison Goldfrapp. A Stylophone was used on the song "Style".

The next year "Beached" was the soundtrack for the movie "The Beach", it included the music of Orbital with lines from the movie, and a melody by Angelo Badalamenti.
In 2001 the album "The Altoghether" was released the last album on the ffrr label. The band toured throughout that year. One year later Orbital created a retrospective album called "Work 1989-2002".
In 2004 released the "Blue Album", and announced they were breaking up. A final round of live concerts followed.

During the breakup Phil teamed up with Nick Smith to form the duo "Long Range", which resulted in an album "Madness and me". The second video is Phil showing his favorite synths at that moment.

Paul released a solo album "The Ideal Condition" with a full orchestral arrangement, which was released on 28 May 2007.

In 2009 however, Paul and Phil got back together again.
Welcome Orbital!-glastonbury_2012-2.jpg
They planned a live show called "20 years after Chime". From june till november that year, the band toured again. ("Reunion Tour")
This continued into 2010. Here are some images of the gear setup they used that year:
Welcome Orbital!-studio2010-1.jpgWelcome Orbital!-studio2010-2.jpgWelcome Orbital!-studio2010-3.jpg
And two pictures of that setup on the Coachella stage:
Welcome Orbital!-coachella-1.jpgWelcome Orbital!-coachella-2.jpg

Four concerts followed in 2011 and 2 in 2012. Then the band released their new Album "Wonky". It was a mixture of the early Orbital sound and influences from the producer; Flood.
A tour of concerts under the same name followed the same year. Orbital produced the score for the movie Pusher.

Here's a nice video about a 2012 rework of the "Chimes" song performed on KCRW network. And one from the studio.

And then… Orbital split up again.

Phil Hartnoll had been DJ-ing on the side since 2007 (thereabouts). In fact, he's in Thailand right now during this Q&A session
I'm out in Ko Phangan at the moment. I always DJ at a big Party 'Jungle Experience"out here 1 day before Fullmoon…. I love being out here as there are many Parties to go to and listen to great electronic*music.
Many international DJs are playing out here also…… Last things we (Rob Gritton & Phil) did was a remix for the Artist Shepard Faire's, and a remix for Bulletdodge Records A Darren Emerson and Gareth Whitehead track.
…. end of March then home to work on the live Orbital set for the Summer festivals.

Meanwhile, Paul wrote music for commercial advertisement such as Volkswagen, Range Rover, Rolex, Ralph Lauren, and the NSPCC.
In 2015 he released an album as "8:58" which included collaborations with Robert Smit, Ed Harcourt, and the acter Cillian Murphy. "The Clock" is about a person replacing one monotomous existence for another:

I found a nice video of him in the studio, just recently, check it out:

So… what happened now? Orbital decided their orbits can't be seperate for too long. As you could read they're preparing a series of new live performances, and they released a rework of the epic trance track Kinetic (Golden Girls).
Performances announced (at this point):
3-5 june Forbidden Fruit (Ireland)
7-9 july Bluedot Festival (Cheshire, UK)
27-30 july Standon Calling (UK)
What's in store? I don't know. You'll have to ask them.

Welcome Paul and Phil, it's great to have you here!
Attached Thumbnails
Welcome Orbital!-studio2010-3.jpg   Welcome Orbital!-studio2010-2.jpg   Welcome Orbital!-studio2010-1.jpg   Welcome Orbital!-glastonbury_2012-2.jpg   Welcome Orbital!-glastonbury_2012-.jpg  

Welcome Orbital!-orbital_glastonbury_2010.jpeg   Welcome Orbital!-orbital_1994.jpg   Welcome Orbital!-orbital-1995.jpg   Welcome Orbital!-maida-vale-studios-four_goed.jpg   Welcome Orbital!-glastonbury.jpg  

Welcome Orbital!-coachella-2.jpg   Welcome Orbital!-coachella-1.jpg  

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