Violin player ORCHA provides immersive, experimental soundscapes that bounce with ease between acoustic and electronica sounds. Latest release from them is a Single called Depths that gives a taste of the album that will be out in the coming year. They’ve been working with Architecture In Helsinki’s James Cecil for the production on a release that will seek to stretch and comfort through it’s sounds – maybe even keep afloat some who experience it to.
From their Natural Habitat Studio ORCHA spoke to radionotes, hear the chat here…
To listen, click the green ‘play’ triangle… [note: may take few seconds to load]
(Transcript of ORCHA chat below, check to delivery in audio)
IMAGE CREDIT: Jeff Andersen Jnr – Supplied
SHOW NOTES: ORCHA episode
Where to find the show to subscribe/follow:
- PlayPodcast – this link directs you, to the Podcast app on your device (subscribe to not miss an episode)
….or you may prefer to Search “radionotes Podcast” in your favourite podcatcher.
Feature Guest: ORCHA
- Official Site
- Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
- Reverie (Official Music Video)
- Natural Habitat Studio (Facebook)
- Producer James Cecil (Official Site)
- Washed Out (Official Site)
- Harmony Byrne (Official Site)
- One Fell Swoop Circus (Official Site) and Visuals/Audio of show (Vimeo)
- Depths – ORCHA (Single) <— link to where to get the tune or direct here Bandcamp
Next Episode: Jade Imagine (out on Milk! Records)
…so, if you have not already subscribed or following the show – now might be a great time to start. On Spotify, Apple and Google Podcast, Overcast, PocketCast and more…
More details on playpodcast here, thanks to Matt from them.
[Radio Production – notes: ORCHA takes the full episode and best cut to spin is Depths… the latest Single]
Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio
Web-design/tech: Steve Davis
Voice: Tammy Weller
You can make direct contact with the podcast – on the Contact Page
For direct quotes check to audio, first version of transcript by Esmeralda B at REV
John Murch: ORCHA, welcome to radionotes.
John Murch: You’ve said that as a human I’m alone and through the music is where you share who you are.
ORCHA: Really as humans we’re all kind of trapped within our own consciousness and the way to kind of move out of our consciousness and experience things with other people is to communicate and one of the truest forms of communication, in my mind, is through music because it transcends language barriers and all sorts of things. It’s evoking more of an emotional response between people, which is something that I try and achieve in my music.
John Murch: Guess there is a sense of vulnerability at this point and the music’s been recorded, so at least it’s outside of you now. But then the next stage is sharing that more publicly. Are you feeling vulnerable because of that?
ORCHA: Oh yeah, I feel vulnerable a lot of the time with my music. It’s always a very personal thing. I think a lot of musicians would agree that sharing music is partly you want to maintain some sort of level of professionalism when you’re putting out music, but it’s also a very deeply personal thing. It’s a hard combination to wrap your head around sometimes. So yeah, I’m excited for the release, I hope that plenty of people will listen to it. But there is also that level of a little bit of wonder what will happen once it becomes free into the world.
John Murch: What emotions did you go through when that first single of the new album was released?
ORCHA: It was a pretty tumultuous time actually, earlier in this year. I’ve been going through quite a introspective journey this year just because I’ve been focusing on my music so much and it’s a very self exploratory sort of journey, I guess, recording and writing songs. So it was a tricky time. There was a lot of kind of anxiety and stress involved with it, but it was also sort of a joyous time in some ways as well. Being able to share something that has been brewing inside for such a long time was really exciting and I got so much great feedback from the single, so I’m glad that people have enjoyed the song.
John Murch: For this release you’ve set up your own Natural Habitat. In fact, that’s the name of the studio that you built yourself for this record.
ORCHA: That’s it, yeah.
John Murch: In what way, ORCHA, is it a natural habitat for you?
ORCHA: I named the studio Natural Habitat because I felt like if there is a space where a creative person might feel safe and at home and comfortable, it would be within a studio. And it also kind of evokes that what creative people do is a natural sort of activity, something that we would potentially inherently do in the wild. It’s a space where we can create and be safe.
John Murch: Acoustic and electronica, do you have this beautiful blend of the two?
ORCHA: I’ve always kind of been interested in finding the balance because my music’s primarily created using violin sounds. So a lot of sounds and textures you can create using violin that don’t rely on any electronic elements at all. So it’s about exploring all the different tones in terms of the violin as well as running it through electronic effects and I ran it through a modular sync the other day and got all these unexpected strange sounds and put them all into our recording. So it’s kind of like about blending all the different elements that I can create using violin and creating a whole world and soundscape from that instrument.
John Murch: Over 20 years playing the violin, let’s go to the first time you’re introduced to the violin. Was it a good experience?
ORCHA: I think it was probably in year three and I was forced to pick an instrument out of cello, viola and violin. It was a good experience. I look back on all those years of learning violin at school with fond memories.
John Murch: You had to choose between violin, viola, cello, what else was in the mix there?
ORCHA: That’s it, just those three because I went to a Steiner School and at that school and in Steiner education, they encourage music from a very early age-
John Murch: Yet not much diversity, really.
ORCHA: The thing is with those instruments in particular is that it trains your ear really well because if you think about it, a lot of other instruments have keys or notes in place. Like a piano has a whole keyboard, so you can’t play a note out of tune necessarily unless the piano is out of tune. So it’s about training your ear and finding your note, just using your ear to find the note in particular, it’s a good oral training.
John Murch: Yeah, so from being somewhat forced to play the violin, to actually enjoying it, was that the teenage years?
ORCHA: Definitely went through a phase early in high school where violin was definitely not cool and I just wanted to play guitar and I started learning guitar too. But yeah, my mom really pushed me to continue on with violin and I’m glad that she did now because obviously I’ve made it a big part of my life. And being able to play some different styles and being able to choose some of the music that I’ve played as well because obviously, in primary school we got kind of fed all the songs that you had to play. And then in high school I started being able to choose a little bit more the different styles that I enjoyed. That was great.
John Murch: Was the violin company during those more tumultuous teenage years?
ORCHA: Yeah, I think it’s a way of expressing yourself for sure. It’s also a really good way of providing an outlet for dealing with difficult things. I mean music in general, just being able to perform and play music is a really good way of processing things for sure.
John Murch: Did the violin provide some limitations in those emotional journeys you’re going through?
ORCHA: I wouldn’t say limitations, I would say probably really helped me find my artistic expression. It’s a very expressive instrument. I’ve not only explored the electronic styles, but have done a lot of jazz and bluegrass folk kind of music as well, classical.
John Murch: Who do you sense is your contemporaries when it comes to the violin?
ORCHA: I have always found Andrew Bird’s music very inspiring, just because he has really explored a lot of the different ways that you can use violin as arrangement. I used to try and emulate a lot of Stephane Grappelli’s kind of music with Django Reinhardt. The gypsy swing jazz movement as well. Laurie Anderson as well, she was a big kind of electronic violin pioneer in the ’80s.
John Murch: Where do you find that inspiration to put pen to paper or notes onto the screen?
ORCHA: It’s one of those things that you’ve got to kind of let it brew within yourself. Take your time to, or this is the case for me anyway, just give yourself time to let it stew for a while and then really, the way it’s worked for me is it’s just kind of all come out in one day when I get a moment of clarity really. I feel like there’s a lot of confusing, conflicting ideas kind of brewing in my head and then one day I’ll just sit down and press record and some ideas that have been simmering away and then they’ll just kind of spring into life and become really clear. It’s also about removing yourself from distractions as well, to be able to get that creative flow going. I find that whenever I go away to the country and record for a little while or whenever I just lock myself in the studio and turn off all notifications on my phone, that’s when the best stuff comes out.
John Murch: When you say go to the country?
ORCHA: For my last single, Reverie, I went to my dad’s house out in the bush and he lives on a big farm property and no one was there. It was just me for a few days by myself. So I set up all my equipment in the lounge room and just had the fire going and was very wholesome and eating lots of good food and not getting any really Wi-Fi or reception. So yeah and then that day I was feeling very uninspired, feeling very uncertain about all the music I was recording and then I just turned on the microphone and said I’m going to record something. And then the melody and the lyrics and everything all came out in like one hour pretty much. And then use them for the recordings on the song.
John Murch: There’s no one else there, it’s just you. That’s the conversation with yourself. How do those-
ORCHA: Yeah, there’s a lot of those.
John Murch: Yeah, how do those conversations normally go?
ORCHA: It’s normally I think a lot of me doubting myself and saying, “This isn’t good enough or these things are not working or it’s not sounding how I want it to sound.” And then maybe just telling myself as well, “No, just persevere with it. Be patient. If an idea isn’t working, just go back to a new song completely sometimes.” Because if it doesn’t sit right within yourself, it might not be worth continuing on with. But sometimes it is and that’s how my last single got recorded.
John Murch: What’s that relationship like with the parental?
ORCHA: Yeah, good. Yeah, my parents are both very supportive of me doing music, have always helped contribute to buying instruments and lessons and have always encouraged it. Even when I say I’m going to quit working a job at a cafe or working other jobs that I do and just focusing solely on the music side of things, they’re always really supportive, which is probably one of the reasons why I’ve stuck with it for so long now. This whole year, so for 2019 I’ve literally just been recording and focusing on writing, which has been a huge change in my process and has really allowed some great stuff to happen. I would recommend to anyone who can do it, but it takes a lot of saving and preparing and especially at this level of sort of emerging artists to kind of prepare yourself for that because it’s very expensive.
John Murch: The producer of this up and coming record, James, Architecture in Helsinki’s on board.
ORCHA: At the start of the year, I was looking for a producer to kind of help me achieve the sound that I wanted to go for. Started asking around and someone put me in touch with James and as soon as I went to his studio, blown away with how creative he was and quick to kind of make things work and encouraging as well. He was just very accepting and open to all sorts of ideas. He wouldn’t shut things down, which is a really good process when you’re kind of starting to explore.
John Murch: How are those ideas mapped out?
ORCHA: A lot of it comes from just trying to emulate different sounds that I’ve heard in other music. So reference other sense and stuff, trying to achieve a certain sound on the violin, which can be sometimes a challenge. But sometimes can achieve like a new result, a sound that you haven’t really heard before just because it’s a violin run through some sort of synth pedal or something or like multiple delays or a reversed Crystallizer going on under something as well. So achieving those ideas is just a process of kind of trial and error, putting things down, taking things away and then building up a recording from there.
ORCHA: I have a little book of ideas I refer to and I’ve also kind of like made a bit of a bank of sounds. Every time I create like a violin synth, I’ll kind of save it away in Ableton, use for another song somewhere else. I created a Pizzicato Keyboard, so I recorded every single note of the violin, mapped it to a MIDI Keyboard. And then so I can play pretty much any chord Pizzicato without having to rerecord it every single time. And also play it in a different way because on a keyboard you might do a very different voicing than what you would if you just played a chord on the violin.
John Murch: Pizzicato relates to?
ORCHA: Plucking of the string of the violin. So instead of bowing it, its just a plucked note.
John Murch: Let’s talk about the circus.
ORCHA: Oh yes, the circus.
John Murch: Did you run away with the circus? What happened?
ORCHA: I have run away with the circus, yes, but I come back now and again. It’s a group called One Fell Swoop Circus, who have a couple of different shows. They developed a show for Fringe Festival 2018, which they asked me to live score. They asked me to perform my own songs, so it wasn’t about creating a sound that they wanted in particular. They were totally open to me providing my sound onto the live scores. I play in the background while they do these amazing acrobatic skills. They’ve built a slack boat, a giant metal, taco shaped rocking apparatus. It looks like a big puff moon, crescent taco thing and then on the top a slack rope, which they walk across. So not only do they have to balance on the slack line, they have to manage the rocking of the boat as well.
John Murch: Very hungry now, what’s your favorite food or recipe?
ORCHA: Ah, tacos is definitely up there. I’m a big fan of some good tacos.
John Murch: Yeah, you did seem to have a bit of joy mentioning that, vegetarian, vegan, or otherwise?
ORCHA: Just vegetarian, yeah. I’ve been vegan on and off as well, but sometimes I just got to have a bit of cheese.
John Murch: What did you get from performing with a circus? Because I imagine there are some things that you can get from that, that you can’t get from working within the studio space.
ORCHA: Or even playing a normal live music set in terms of like playing at a bar or a festival. I think collaborating with the visual arts in general is something that I’ve always found very important with ORCHA. So I try and incorporate some sort of visual element into every show that I do. It was kind of like a continuation of what I was already exploring, which was great. But I think the thing that I found most interesting was just that it kind of, in some ways took a lot of pressure off me as a performer because there was so much going on visually that people could just listen to the sounds and not expect too much from me in a performance, sort of in their view, a bit of a fly on the wall sometimes. But then would come out and interact with them a little bit too as part of the show, which was cool.
John Murch: When did you realize that the visual was as important as the oral?
ORCHA: I just started thinking about the experience of going to a live music event. A lot of people almost forgot about the other senses in some ways, when they are going to a gig. Sometimes I’d be at a gig and I would feel this unsettling feeling and I’d realize that most of my other senses were feeling uncomfortable, other than the music side. So for example, there wasn’t an artificial stimulation going on. There was a really bad smell. Maybe I was very uncomfortable or the music wasn’t matching the environment that I was in. I just started thinking about engaging all of the senses rather than just the audio side of things.
John Murch: Who visually stimulates you, in terms of what artists do you like to go and see?
ORCHA: Very interested in surrealism, so a lot of sort of surrealist art I find very inspiring and something that I like to try and incorporate into my own sort of visual aesthetic with the ORCHA. I’ve got such a strong group of creative artists around me as well that are always inspiring me and making just amazing work.
John Murch: If we go to the name, ORCHA.
ORCHA: I kind of wanted to choose a name that evoked the imagery of underwater. A lot of the time when I listen to music that I find inspiring or creating my own music, I always imagine that one of the environments where I’d want people to listen to it is underwater, which I know is not always possible. But if you have underwater headphones, please listen to my music underwater. I think it would be cool.
John Murch: What’s the oral picture that you are imagining depths to portray?
ORCHA: I kind of wanted to have that feeling of sort of surreal landscape somewhere, that’s a little bit foreign, but in some ways familiar as well. It’s about kind of exploring a place that you might know well but maybe you haven’t really fully understood in some ways.
John Murch: The known, but the unknown. That void between the two. Is that what you’re visualizing when you’re composing this tune?
ORCHA: Yeah, it’s about taking that step outside of your comfort zone. The best way to do that is to feel supported and feel ready.
John Murch: Do you feel more safe with a inanimate or an animate object?
ORCHA: That’s an interesting question. I’ve never really thought about it. I guess I feel more safe with inanimate object probably. Yeah, I’m not sure. Why do you ask?
John Murch: It’s that difference between trusting another human being and that of an object for which you’ve put trust in.
ORCHA: I say, well I guess that’s something that, yeah, I’ve been learning to try and overcome as well, is to be able to trust other people in that sense and be a little bit more open. Communicating and laying responsibility on someone else for things that you find important.
John Murch: What music are you listening to at the moment, ORCHA, that is making you feel fuller?
ORCHA: I’ve been listening to a lot of Washed Out. His music’s got this really great combination of uplifting, but dark at the same time and I always try and create that sort of feeling within my music too. So I think I just resonate with his music at the moment and for a long time I’ve been listening to the Gorillaz as well and just admiring the creativity of the different sounds that they create. Those artists in particular, and I recently came across an album by this duo called Wavell create really, really interesting sounds and have very minimal vocal sounds, but take you to a very interesting place sonically as well.
John Murch: Your Journey Within The Dark, what does that bring you when you go there?
ORCHA: Kind of alludes to this other force that we can’t really explain within our lives, like almost is the representation of the unknown and the unknown meaning of life as well. As humans, we’re always searching for answers and clarity and searching for what does it all mean in the universe? There’s a bit of beauty in the unknowing as well, just allowing things to be how they are in some ways. Leaving the mystery to some things is actually better than understanding it sometimes.
John Murch: In The Narrative of Depths?
ORCHA: A lot of the lyrics are kind of alluding to this unknowing other place that we can try and sink into, but really when it all comes down to it, it’s a very subconscious kind of bodily thing that we can do, rather than like a factual understanding way of thinking about life. Trying to explore those feelings and emotions that we don’t really have names for sometimes. A lot of the time I get the same sorts of feelings through music and I feel like a sound can sometimes represent how I feel a little bit more than words can. I try to achieve that in this song.
John Murch: What kind of vocabulary are your songs on this new album trying to use or provide an essence for?
ORCHA: A lot of it has to do with kind of dreaming and mystical side of life. I’m trying to kind of create like a bit of a universe of my own, I guess. Like a bit of a world where it’s kind of like a little window into my consciousness. In my world, things are ideally very dreamy and flowing and you’re floating around, kind of almost weightless a lot of the time. A lot of the kind of constraints of the earth aren’t really there in some ways. It’s almost like trying to achieve a consciousness without a body in some ways.
John Murch: A sense of weightlessness.
ORCHA: Which comes back to the whole idea of swimming is kind of the closest that we can come to flying and feeling that sense of almost like no gravity at all. We’re just kind of floating and without any constraints at all.
John Murch: What’s your experience of a body of water that’s memorable?
ORCHA: Oh, I’ve got plenty. Once swam on top of a mountain in Mexico it’s called Hierve el Agua, which is the frozen waterfall and there was some hot Springs on top of this mountain. So that was a pretty memorable body of water that I swum in.
John Murch: Does that suggest that there’s a stem of volcanic activity that’s reaching through the center of that mountain?
ORCHA: Can’t remember exactly, it was such a long time ago now, but they had some very crazy rock formations. The pools had these layered walls of salt buildup and it was more of like a, I don’t know if there was any volcanic sort of element to it. Definitely a lot of crazy colors, interesting shapes and patterns and stuff on top of this mountain.
John Murch: Where’s another body of water that’s inspired you? Since we’re talking about water.
ORCHA: There was another great place in Mexico that I swam. Most of them have been in Mexico.
John Murch: You regularly travel to Mexico?
ORCHA: No, no, I’ve only been once, but I just did a lot of great swimming. I went to this river there, which was just completely like turquoise blue. It was just a really amazing color and just such a contrast to every other kind of body of water that I’ve ever swum in, so that was quite nice. Also done a swim with the whale sharks over in Western Australia, which was a pretty amazing experience as well. Just floating alongside such a ginormous animal was just unbelievable.
John Murch: The sense of perspective as well, when you do those kinds of swims.
ORCHA: That’s right, you get that sense of feeling quite small and insignificant in comparison to the earth around you or whatever’s in nature around you.
John Murch: Where should people be when they listen to the new album?
ORCHA: I think just wherever you feel most happy and content, I guess. Places that they find inspiring or to somehow engage in a visual experience that they find interesting in any way. So I would definitely say underwater would be great. But if you can’t get some underwater headphones then maybe on the grass in the sun or wherever it is that makes you feel good.
John Murch: What’s your plan for the album? Once it’s released, are you going to retreat for another two years?
ORCHA: Yeah, maybe I’ll just hibernate in my Natural Habitat Studio for two more years. No, no. I don’t know. I think I want to try and perform live as much as I can and something that I really like doing, performing in front of people and getting to travel with my music. So hopefully I’ll be able to travel around Australia and then maybe overseas a little bit off the back of the album.
John Murch: Harmony Byrne in her moniker, have you ever done a duo with her from memory?
ORCHA: Yeah, that was great. Yeah, on the EP. She featured on one of my tracks as Liahona, she’s just such a great singer and she’s always been a close friend ever since school. When it came time to get someone to feature on that song, I just wasn’t feeling any of the vocal elements, so I was like thinking about who to ask and yeah, she was an obvious choice because she’s just an amazing singer.
John Murch: Do you have a little black book of people you’d like to collaborate with?
ORCHA: Yeah, I’ve been talking to a few people about collaborating on a few songs for the album because I have a few tracks that don’t have any vocals on them yet. I have been singing on a lot of the tracks these time round whereas my EP, I felt like I only really saying one little phrase for the whole EPs. I’m definitely trying to push myself to do more of my own vocals, but I also am keen to get some collaboration happening.
John Murch: How are you feeling about the launch?
ORCHA: I feel really good. Everything that I’ve recorded this year has been just such a true representation of me as an artist and that’s a really great feeling to have. I just feel lucky to be able to create such a important body of work for myself. If nothing else, I can just look back on it and be really happy with it.
John Murch: Is it like a book? How do you describe that body of work?
ORCHA: Yeah, it is like a book. It’s kind of like a little, I feel like it’s more like a little photo album. There’s these little pictures that I’ve taken over the last two years that I’ve kind of stuck all together and for me, when I look back through the photo album, it’s a lot of my own memories and a lot of my own kind of achievements. But I’m hoping that someone else can look through the photo album too and relate it to their life in some ways and hopefully use it to cope with some of the things that they’re going through or just simply enjoy it.
John Murch: What’s been one of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt over those two years on how to cope?
ORCHA: Just trying to stay clearheaded. I’ve definitely gone through some pretty big highs and lows in terms of my mental state and a lot of the songs on the album are about coping with mental challenges that I think are universal in some ways. But for me, it’s been a lot of learning about just how to navigate the world and navigate life in such a overwhelming kind of complex sort of society that we live in now. And I feel like humans, in some ways, haven’t evolved enough to cope with the level of information and sort of pressure that we face as a modern society. Hopefully we evolve to understand our role a little bit better.
John Murch: Do you feel like you’ve got a better sense of who you are as a person because of using music through the emotions and feelings?
ORCHA: Yeah, definitely and especially in this last year because I really done any other work, I’ve mostly just been fully immersing myself in the writing and recording process. It’s definitely helped me understand my place a little bit better. Also helped me understand how I respond to things in life and also how I think about things as well.
John Murch: When you look across your studio, the Natural Habitat that you’ve set up for yourself, what are some of the must have, the key elements of that studio that you’ve produced for yourself?
ORCHA: I think the must have elements would be to have a space to make some food, that’s important. But I think just having a space where you feel like you are kind of almost separate from the outside world. It’s kind of like a little, not a cave because that sounds a bit dark and dank, but it’s definitely like a sanctuary. Definitely want somewhere that you feel like someone might not disturb you because I think that’s when you get your best work done.
John Murch: ORCHA, thank you very much for joining radionotes.
ORCHA: Thank you for having me.