Ahead of this year’s LSO Discovery Showcase, 'One Night, One Thousand Stories', Ife and Ken talk about how they’ve created music for the show and what Digital Technology Group has made possible.
Introducing Ife …
The piece starts with the orchestra playing Scheherazade – strings and trumpets – then that gets mixed with a sort of trap beat; hi-hats, snares and 808 rhythms. There are samples from recordings, and sequenced strings. There might be some live mixing on the night.
It has to do with a genie. In the story, the king is overthrown by the vizier. He’s thrown out of the city, he becomes blind. A genie comes when he’s at his lowest, to give him advice and tell him to fight for his crown. He gets pumped up! The story’s dark, so there are falling patterns played low by the strings, and on top of this there'll be solos … a cello, and a singer on stage.
I started wanting to make music when I got into hip hop with my friend Jason. He introduced me to Kool G Rap, Tupac and Biggie. 80s and 90s Hip Hop – I’d always heard it but then I got in deep. Growing up I heard the music my family listened to, 80s R’n’B, rock and funk, and off of that listened to psychedelic rock and funk; Marvin Gaye, James Brown, MJ too.
What's good about DTG? It’s quality
When I listen to today’s rappers, like Kendrick, Kanye and Skepta, what’s great is how they combine lyrics that mean something with experimental production, and stay authentic. Especially Skepta’s albums like Konnichiwa and Blacklisted – it sounds like London. The kind of music I’m making is Afro House and Afrobeats. Also Latin stuff, mixing R’n’B, Hip Hop and Bossa Nova.
What's good about DTG? It’s quality – the equipment, the staff, the performance opportunities. I’ve been part of DTG since late 2016. It’s been really beneficial to me. It challenges you to step up your artistry.
Introducing Ken …
I was asked if I could write a piece to go between the third and fourth movements of Scheherazade. I listened to the whole piece and I chose a dramatic section to recreate in my own style. I thought it could be about a chase, and it's written in the form of a song (without words).
The piece is for guitar, drums, bass, trumpet and marimba. The rhythm section was recorded live, the rest is synthesised with Logic. It opens with the main riff, getting bigger and bigger, then this cut to a more calm verse section – like half-time – then to get back to the main theme there’s a crescendo, then the big finish. The challenge was writing something short which still felt finished and complete.
I’ve been part of DTG for a few years. Maybe even four. It’s been a really good learning environment, the support is amazing, and it’s free. It’s hard to put across what DTG is from just its name. What mattered to me was to have a place to rehearse, make recordings and get feedback.