Interview: James Waring, The Invisible Orchestra

Interview: Rachael Halaburda
Sunday 14 April 2019
reading time: min, words

Rachael Halaburda grabbed James Waring for a chat to learn more about his massive band...


James Waring formed The Invisible Orchestra in 2012, hand-picking the cream of the musical crop to join him, the 16 piece ensemble have gained a bit of a name for themselves, for all the right reasons. Think the So Solid Crew set up, but swapping rhymes and grime for a blend of Jazz, hip-hop, punk, afrobeat, soul, big band and everything in-between, performed by some of Nottingham’s biggest, baddest musicians on the scene.

Though the members may have rotated over the years, the attitude and ability to make us jive like never before remains the same. And luckily for us, they’re taking over Metronome this Good Friday with a gig that’s sure to leave us grinning from ear to ear.

Rachael Halaburda grabbed James Waring for a chat to learn more about his massive band...

How did you originally form the band?
I was doing a fair bit of touring and playing in countless bands myself, and decided I'd like to condense all of my ideas into one ambitious project, while also playing with some of the fantastic musicians I'd met over the years. So I stupidly decided to get together a 32 piece band which has 'shrunk' over time into the more 'sensible' 16 piece we now have settled with. That's the very short version anyway...

What makes you different from other orchestras?
I'd pretty much guarantee we can drink more than the others for a start!

When you perform, what do you really want to see and feel from your audience?
It's great seeing people getting really lost in the music at points, and sometimes quite frenzied, if not bizarre, dancing. I'd like to think that people can just do whatever they feel at the shows, as long as they are having fun and not bothering other people.

How would you describe your typical audience?
To be honest, we don't have a typical audience. The music includes a broad spectrum of styles and musicians which reaches quite a wide demographic, so we have a varied crowd turning up.

How would you sum up your sound?
The words on our blog probably describe it best: The Invisible Orchestra is a 16-piece ensemble combining soul, Latin, deep funk, jazz and big band with huge orchestral sweeps, Afrobeat, Arabic punk, hip-hop and brass-heavy dance music to create a vibrant, energetic and exhilarating tour de force which defies categorisation.

You’re currently a 16 piece ensemble, but you’re known to have had numbers up to 32! Is it hard to pull off a show with so many different performers?

Things are often well organised and shows are booked quite far in advance so on the whole, it’s not difficult. Sometimes, when there are a few dates flying about, I end up chasing people to get things arranged, but it's a lot easier than it used to be. Not just because of the number of people in the band; we've had some pretty ‘out there’ characters involved over the years who, as good as a musician they are, they aren't the best at organising themselves to put it politely!

You’re from Notts. What is it that you love most about this place?
Nottingham is my home. We have a few members dotted around the country but most are based here. It's big enough to be quite diverse and vibrant, but small enough to get to know really well and bump into people you know all over town.

You have performed with incredible vocal and musical talents such as Percydread, Harleighblu, Scorzayzee, Natalie Duncan and Mr Switch. Have you got your eye on any other Notts artists for future collaborations?
Yes, we’re always on the lookout for the odd collaboration. Though we have an amazing line-up in the band right now, and I feel this is the best we've been, it's always good to mix things up and keep things fresh. We've got Harleighblu and Mr Switch with us at Metronome on Good Friday actually, so that should be fun.

Tell us all about what we can expect from that show…
We're going to be pulling out all of the stops, and have some of the best musicians around in the band at the moment. A few of our new, top additions include the trumpet player from highly acclaimed funk band, The Haggis Horns, coming for the night to add to our already super talented horn section. Also the sometimes disgracefully, badly behaved but very gifted (and Grammy award-winning) Hammond Organ player, Justin Dodsworth, will be making an appearance along with Pete Beardsworth, who is a bit of a genius and is making waves in the UK jazz scene right now with his own band. Of course, our great vocalists will also be performing and probably a few surprises too (maybe even to us).

Any last words for the readers before you blow their musical minds this Good Friday?
Jared Wilson is apparently going to be doing some naked twerking live on stage during our set, so that's something definitely not to miss!

The Invisible Orchestra take over Metronome on Friday 19 April, joined by Mr Switch, Bunkerpop, Babar Luck and BIG SEXY.

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