I have been composing music for Arcadia since 2015. Firstly, for their TPI award-winning show ‘Metamorphosis‘, then musically directing and performing in the 30-piece ‘Mechanical Orchestra‘. Following that came this collaboration, which was reported by the collective as having been ‘the most powerful experience in Arcadia’s history’.

Click tabs below for a full breakdown of the project:

The Key Aspects I Worked On

  • Produce music around a solo vocal performance of a song and dance by the Whudjuk Noongar tribe from Perth, Australia, titled ‘Yallor Keeninyara’.
  • Tap into the meaning of the song and amplify its expression with modern technology, but pay utmost respect to the sensitive, timeless piece, and maintain its original distinction.
  • Usage: Worldwide. Live performances at Arcadia Spectacular festival in Perth, Australia. Future Glastonbury and worldwide festival appearances, plus online promotional videos.
  • Deadline to complete: 3 Days. Vocal sent to me on Monday afternoon, final master required that Thursday morning.

The Arcadia collective were on the Australia leg of their world tour, and had discovered that an Aborigine tribe from the Perth area that worshiped a spider spirit, with an ancient song dedicated to it. Usually shunning the west because of its desire for technology and globalisation, the tribe respected the fact that Arcadia recycle military equipment to create their interactive stages that in turn unite people from all backgrounds during their performances. They aligned with the concept of turning weapons of destruction into tools for creation and unification, and only because of this, they agreed to record their timeless song and have us develop modern music around it.

I was given three days from being sent the recording of the solo vocal performance, recorded in Australia, to complete the track in time for a live performance. The deadline was tight, and the material had to be treated with the utmost respect and sensitivity, so there was no time to waste!

I began by looking at the key and general tempo of the song. Luckily the tempo matched nicely to the Drum & Bass genre, which is also a favoured style to end the Arcadia shows with its fast pace and high energy. I picked out the main melody of the vocal, which is singing usual scales, and wrote a bassline that interacted with it. I wanted to build on the tribal element, so I added some tribal percussion and natural flutes, then set about developing the electronic section that it would move into.

I had previously composed music for the last two Arcadia Spectacular shows, and been in the crowd and experienced them as a member of the audience, so felt I understood the type of energy and sound that work best underneath a 50ft high, fire breathing robotic spider. With this in mind, I began the process of combining the two opposing worlds of nature and technology, trying to find a happy balance between the two.

After completing and sending off the final master, the team had the uneasy task of playing the piece to the tribe. They were all very anxious as no-one could gauge how they would react. The tribe leaders came and sat in their truck as the Arcadia directors played the track on the soundsystem. They listened in silence as the soundtrack came to life through the speakers. The track finished, and after what seemed like a stunned silence, they embraced each other and cried, asking for repeated plays, again, and again.

The actual live performance of the Yallor Keeninyara song was a landmark event for the Arcadia crew, and they told me that it was a moment where everything they had been working towards over the past 10 years fell into place. The audience reaction was unbelievable, and the most powerful in the history of Arcadia. The collective reported that on that night it broke down barriers between the Aborigine tribe and the people of Australia, in an experience unlike anything they had seen before.

The tribe now perform this piece all over the world, most recently in Panama, and the track is set to be released as a charity single to help raise money to aid the Aboriginal struggle, many of whom are living below the poverty line.

  • Remix – Worked with solo vocal performance and added subtle tempo shifts, edits and effects.
  • Sound Design – Built sound effects and unique synth sounds.
  • Music Production – Added full music production around vocal performance, including bass, drums, synth melodies, tribal percussion, sampled melodies, flutes, and synth strings.
  • Mixing – Provided final mixes in 24bit WAV format.
  • Completed within 12 hours over 3 Days.