Premiere: “Shikoku” by Kate Simko + London Electronic Orchestra

Fusing violins, harp and more with analog synths and drum machines

Producers love a good, lush swell of strings—but in electronic and even pop music, they’re for the most part software simulations. Chicago-raised, now London-based composer Kate Simko has a miniature orchestra available at hand (two violinists, a harpist, a bassist and two cellists) to fuse with analog synths and drum machines, like the classic Roland Jupiter-8 and TR-909. Together, the all-female collective performs this hybrid instrumental music as London Electronic Orchestra, and their self-titled debut LP release is just around the corner. Off of it, CH premieres the music video for an ambient mix of “Shikoku” below. “This is footage of the sunrise on New Years Day flying from Cancun to Miami,” Simko tells CH. “There were such gorgeous pastel colors, which remind me of the softness of this track.”

In “Shikoku,” the violins especially hit that emotional sweet spot with their bowing, plucking and tremolos, yet things sort of drift into indie film trailer music world. We found that tracks like “Tilted” and “Champa,” as well as their interpretation of The xx’s “Intro” held our attention more as Simko experiments with balancing the organic and electronic textures. “I just started writing for orchestra about three and a half years ago, and experimenting with different techniques has been one of the most exciting parts,” says Simko. “It’s absolutely incredible how many sounds you can get from string instruments! But effects are also a great way to tie together the live recordings and electronics. I especially like to play around with processing the harp, which can act as glue between the two worlds.”

Kate Simko + London Electronic Orchestra release their LP on 6 May 2016 through The Vinyl Factory. Also check out Seth Troxler and Phil Moffa’s noteworthy remix of their track “Tilted,” below.

First image courtesy of Michael Wilkin, all others courtesy of Kate Simko