Music interview: Addictive TV on the ‘musical seredipity’ of their new album Orchestra of Samples

Addictive TV. Picture: Matthew Cheetham
Addictive TV. Picture: Matthew Cheetham
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Addictive TV are electronic duo who ‘create music that you can see’.

Formed by TV producer and VJ Graham Daniels and mash-up DJ Mark Vidler, they specialise in audio-visual presentations that shred and cut film with dance beats. Having appeared everywhere from the Pompidou Centre in Paris to the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Shanghai, they’re currently touring their new album, Orchestra of Samples, which features a cast of 200 musicians recorded on their travels to 25 countries between 2010 and 2015.

“I was wanting to join the two things together – television and visuals – and produced a series for Channel 4 called Transambient in ’98,” says Daniels of the roots of Addictive TV. “It was ambient television, which had never really been done before, where there was no presenters, no explanation of anything. Someone reviewed the show and called it the Landscape Channel on acid and I thought that was an apt description. It kind of stemmed from there with wanting to do more with audio and video into the live domain.”

Vidler had been in bands before getting into DJ-ing. “He became very well known in the mash-up world under his own moniker of Go Home Productions. He was the first person to do a cleared mash up album. EMI asked him because he’d done a track called Rapture Riders that was Blondie’s Rapture and Riders on the Storm by The Doors. They fit together well.” Having seen Vidler’s work, David Bowie also requested he mashed up Rebel Never Gets Old. “When Bowie sadly passed away Mark was pleased to see someone did a compendium of the top 100 Bowie tracks that people should hear and his was in there.”

When the duo began experimenting by taking entire films such as The Italian Job and Get Carter and condensing them into “a five-minute remix”, they caught the attention of movie companies. “A very clever ad executive in New Line Cinema back in 2005 saw what we were doing and asked if we could remix an Antonio Banderas film called Take The Lead, which we did, and that was as far as we know the first official Hollywood studio actually allowing someone to do this. They gave us all the rushes and said, @here, cut this up and make a track out of it’ and it was successful, it won a viral ad award and was voted best viral ad of the year at the time that it was done. From there we found that Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox and Paramount over the period of a year or so all started contacting us. That’s how we ended up doing all these official alternative trailers.

“One of the ones that worked really well was Iron Man, Paramount were really pleased because at the time no one had seen anything quite like that. The American magazine Wired loved it and put it on their home page of their website.”

Addictive TV. Picture: Woland

Addictive TV. Picture: Woland

Orchestra of Samples was conceived while they were working in France. Over a period of five years they accumulated samples of musicians everywhere from Brazil to Senegal, Israel to Bhutan. “It came out of the fact that because we were touring a lot and travelling with our set where we remix movies and we take Red Hot Chili Peppers and mash them up with Stevie Wonder and it’s all audio-visual. While travelling we thought we should really be meeting local musicians and hooking up with people rather than, like so many bands and DJs do, fly in, do a gig and fly out, it’s better to go and ensconce yourself in the local culture and try and meet people.

“So we started doing these impromptu pop-up recording sessions that were all improvised in the sense that there was no pre-defined key, we wouldn’t give people tempos, we would just go, ‘Do whatever you would do’ and then afterwards we would look for what matched with other artists that we’d sampled. Slowly the archive grew and grew and the pool of people that we could sample became bigger and bigger we could then say ‘That trumpet we recorded in Brazil it’s in the same key and there’s a tiny bit that’s in the same tempo as the djembe player from Senegal that we recorded four years earlier’. That’s essentially how we did this. It’s like musical serendipity, happenstance of what works together. Obviously it’s much more work for me and Mark at our end but it produces we think much better results and combinations that you simply wouldn’t think of.”

For the accompanying live tour they’ll be bringing guest musicians with them. “No two shows are the same, it’s a lot of different venues and places with different musicians,” Daniels says.

Orchestra of Samples is out tomorrow. Addictive TV play at Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield on June 9 and Left Bank in Leeds on June 29. www.addictive.tv