Cinematic Orchestra's Jason Swinscoe talks ahead of Birmingham O2 Institute show

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They are the anti-Prince; a band whose music visits our lives almost as often as Halley's Comet.

Music doesn't pour from Cinematic Orchestra. It oozes almost imperceptibly. It emanates as quickly as an oak tree grows.

And it's all the more beautiful for that.

A band that works as slowly as Cinematic Orchestra eliminates errors.

The band was created in 1999 by Jason Swinscoe and it's been nine years since their breakthrough record, Ma Fleur. Though the record wasn't a huge hit – it stalled at No73 – it became universally popular.

Featuring in a Schweppes Lemonade advert called Burst and in the Australian-French film The Tree, it became ubiquitous by stealth.

Cinematic Orchestra became purveyors of music that everybody knew – even though only a few knew of the band themselves. To Build A Home for example, taken from Ma Fleur, has been streamed more than 60 million times.

And now, after nine years away, they're back. Swinscoe and co have released the long-awaited follow-up, a single, To Believe, taken from their forthcoming album. Swinscoe says: "It's been nine years since Ma Fleur and there have been other film projects in between, including a Disney soundtrack. I did a Late Night Tales compilation and an In Motion release. We did a couple of shows at the Barbican."

And then tragedy struck with the death of band member Austin Peralata. The 22-year-old pianist, who was the son of film director and Z-Boys skateboarder Stacy Peralata, died unexpectedly. He had made a name for himself on the Los Angeles music scene by playing with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra.


His premature death triggered an outpouring of affection from musicians including Robert Glasper and Gilles Peterson, among others.

Swinscoe says: "Austin sadly passed away. We had a whole tour booked but it was so tragic for a while.

"I'd met him in New York and he was my connection into the LA scene. He was a lovely young kid. His dad introduced him to our music when Austin was 14.

"Austin heard it and wanted to be in the band when he grew up. It came true. It was a wonderful meeting of minds."


Eventually, Swinscoe retreated to make new music.

He assembled a formidable team, including a musician who recorded 96 separate string parts for the band's new single.

"He composed and recorded them himself," Jason adds.

"There are 96 string parts on the new single, just by one guy. He is an amazing guy.

"He doesn't get phased. He scores it out and methodically just goes through the line. That's the way he works. He texted me saying he'd broken his record and recorded 96 parts."

The band are on the road and will play Birmingham's O2 Institute on Wednesday.

"Putting it on stage is rewarding. Live is much more forgiving than being in the studio but I love it because you can share it night in and night out and develop it on stage.

"It's not just a copy. It's a unity in itself. I work on that with my MD in the band and it gets constantly developed."

By Andy Richardson


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