The Matthew Herbert All Russian Big Band

The Matthew Herbert All Russian Big Band

The Matthew Herbert All Russian Big Band

Cult music-maker and sound artist Matthew Herbert is bringing a host of Russian musicians to BT River of Music and speaks about his project in the interview below.

There was a fantastic interview with the man himself in the Evening Standard a couple of weeks back, which led critic David Smyth to describe Matthew’s project as “one of the more daring in BT River of Music…” (read the full article here). We took five minutes to catch up with Matthew ourselves and dig a little deeper into this man’s seriously boggling mind.

What have been the most interesting discoveries throughout the project?

It’s a cliche, but meeting the people has been the most interesting and inspiring thing. The Russian people are always surprising and that’s a pretty good trait, particularly within such a monolithic state or systemic presence.

How was your trip to Russia? Was this your first performance with the All Russian Big Band?

The trip was excellent. The show felt very colourful and full of life. This was our first show with the young Russian musicians, and considering they’d never played in a big band before, they did a great job. Playing a show with a new band is like a hot air balloon; it takes its time to fill up, to gain momentum, but at some point it lifts off the ground in a wondrous detachment. The trick is to keep it aloft.

Why a Russian Big Band?

I was asked by the British Council to think of ways to collaborate with, and represent, a modern Russia in the context of the BT River of Music.

The collaboration was recently premiered out in Strelka, Russia, and this video gives a sense of what to expect…

What is the one thing about yourself and your music that you wish people understood?

There’s some crucial private details of course, but I’ve given a lot of interviews over the years so I’ve realistically been given the opportunity to explain. I’ve only got myself to blame if I’m misunderstood.

Which other artist are you most inspired by?  

That’s a difficult question. As soon as one writes names down, they feel like fences rather than gates. If I had to commit to a name, probably Tom Waits or John Cage.

On a sporting note, will you be following any sports along the Olympic journey, and if so which ones?

I’m afraid I’m a casual viewer of sport, at best. There’s something brilliantly abstract about the gymnastics though; that always makes good TV.

From pigs to crying babies…what do you think will be your next source of inspiration?

Probably the elderly and infirm, but I’d like to do something upbeat next. The record I’ve just finished is made from a photographer being bombed by a plane in Libya so I’m ready for warmth, peace.

Tickets to see Matthew Herbert’s All Russian Big Band on Sunday 22 July are now fully booked, but there are still some Europe tickets available for Saturday at Trafalgar Square, where you can catch the likes of Amira, Phantom Limb + Eliza Carthy and Fyfe Dangerfield to name but a few.

Reserve a ticket (free subject to a £3 per ticket booking fee) on the BT River of Music website.

A version of this post was originally published by our partners at Serious.