“So powerful and so beautifully done.” - Mark Kermode, The Observer on Jason Singh – Drifters
Sound artist, nature beatboxer and composer Jason Singh performs his live soundtrack to John Grierson’s monumental silent documentary film Drifters.
Premiering alongside Battleship Potemkin in 1929, Drifters follows North Sea herring trawlermen through their dramatic daily routines as well as the industry’s struggles between tradition, modernity, and nature.
Originally commissioned by BFI, Jason’s critically acclaimed and totally unique solo score combines live vocal sound effects, beatboxing techniques and live sampling to create a thrilling cinematic experience.
“Amazing! ... Sensory and emotional... Fantastic combination of old and new. Taking the film to another level” –Audience comment
Opening each performance, landscape writer, Sarah Acton presents a newly commissioned piece.
Weaving ghostly fragments of the south west seine fishing heritage alongside atmospheric visuals by Common Ground, Sarah and local guest artists Emily Burridge (Dorset), Julie Macara (Cornwall) and Becki Driscoll (Devon) premiere new poetic and musical work Seiners.
Real conversations, records, walks and memory talks form inspiration for this series of sketches.
They remember fishing communities, seine boats and everyday life along the coast to link the story of these communities to the wild coastal seasons and cycles of mackerel, salmon and pilchards once fished in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall; where voices and music drift into the memory sea.
Director: John Grierson
Country / Year: UK / 1929
Classification: PG – Suitable for general viewing
Produced by Sound UK. Funded by Arts Council England. Sound track originally commissioned by BFI.
Jason Singh is a sound artist, nature beatboxer, producer, DJ, facilitator and performer.
His work is an ongoing exploration of the natural word, voice, spatial audio and music technology which includes live performance, installations, sound walks, radio broadcasts, music workshops and DJ sets.
He is referred to as the “human sampler” by Cerys Matthews (Radio 6) and his immersive soundscapes have been called “beautiful, strange, calming music” by nature writer Robert Macfarlane.
Singh’s collaborations and commissions include a diverse range of organisations and artists including BBC, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, V&A Museum, WOMAD, Kew Gardens, Chester Zoo, SONOS, BFI, Celtic Connections, RNLI, National Trust, Tate Britain, Sir David Attenborough, George Ezra, Big Narstie, Yazz Ahmed, Shabaka Hutchings, Natacha Atlas, Sarathy Korwar, Nitin Sawhney, Talvin Singh and Rokia Traore. https://jasonsinghthing.com/
Sarah Acton - Sarah’s work includes collaborative performances, community theatre, myth-making and socially engaged arts projects. She has received commissions from Dorset AONB and Stepping into Nature and long-standing partnerships with local museums, Dorset libraries, and Alzheimer’s memory cafes. Her recent book, Seining Along Chesil (Little Toller, 2022) captures memories, voices and stories of Dorset Seine fishing traditions. She is founder of the Heart of Stone oral history project about quarrying on Portland. She lives in Devon. https://sarahacton.co.uk/
Adrian Cooper is a film-maker, producing and directing work for Channel 4, BBC Films and the BFI. He is also and the executive director of the arts and environmental charity Common Ground, for which he conceived and co-produced ARCADIA BFI (2017). Alongside this, he is editorial director and co-founder of Little Toller Books, a library of classic books on landscape, place and natural history alongside an innovative list of new and debut nature writing. https://www.commonground.org.uk/
Emily Burridge is a virtuoso cellist, whose deft improvisational and composing skills create sublime music, fluidly crossing genres. A lot of her music reflects a love of our natural environment. She has produced five solo albums and her music is also used for film and documentaries. https://www.emilyburridge.com/
Julie Macara is a multi-media visual artist, composer and musician living in West Cornwall.
She writes both classical and electronic music, focusing on the contrast between urban and nature. Her most recent works include a composition for RE-Voice, performed at the Tate St Ives; and a musical score for We've Been Here, exhibited at the Hall for Cornwall. https://www.juliemacara.com/
Becki Driscoll is a musician, singer, composer and educator based in the heart of the West Country. She has a deep knowledge and love of local, and wider, folk traditions. Becki is well known for her celebrated musical partnership with Nick Wyke; two of the UK’s finest fiddle-players. She leads the prestigious English Fiddle Weekend at Halsway Manor (together with Nick Wyke), and runs RootNotes, a community music company. https://www.rootnotes.org.uk/
Top slider image credits:
The Fleet project image, IWant Design
DRIFTERS (1929) dir John Grierson, film still - Courtesy BFI
Bottom slider image credits:
Jason Singh, credit Julian Fraser
Sarah Acton, credit Justin P Brown