26 Feb 24

Artist interview: The Fleet - Jason Singh


Sound News

Jason Singh

This March, sound artist, nature beatboxer and composer Jason Singh performs his live soundtrack to John Grierson’s monumental silent documentary film Drifters.

What initially drew you to agreeing to soundtrack Drifters (1929)? What do you love about this film? / what is special about this film?

It was actually an out of the blue (no pun intended) request from the BFI. They asked if I would be interested in creating a soundtrack to a silent film. It felt like a challenge and I said yes. The BFI sent me a copy of the film and after watching it through once, I fell in love with it. I loved the pace of the film and the graphic struggles of the fishing communities. There was also so much joy and togetherness. Yep, it felt epic! It’s a film that still speaks today in terms of the movement of people, climate change, technology, economics and the effects of capitalism.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process and the vocal techniques and effects that you use for this soundtrack?

I wanted to create something which was generated entirely by the human voice. Drifters is a silent film and I wanted to somehow give voices to the people, place, fish, technology. So I sample my voice by recording it into machines and then processing it. I also layer my voice to create rhythms, melodies, textures and sound effects. Everything is created vocally and enhanced using music technology.

What makes you excited about performing this soundtrack live?

That it’s mostly live and improvised. I am not only responding to the images but also the venue and the vibe of the audience. We are all in it together. Pretty much like the film.

How would you sum up the live show experience and the sounds the audience will hear? What’s your kit set up?

It’s subtle and also intense. Audiences can expect to hear the sounds of machines, the sea, birds and whole manner of music genres and vocal sound effects.

My kit set up is pretty simple. It comprises of a reverb unit, loop station and sampler for live processing.

What are you most looking forward to about touring this project to village halls and smaller venues in the South West?

Meeting new people and sharing an important piece of art that documents the life and struggles of communities that moved around the country and the sea.

As part of this project, you’re running beatboxing and electronic workshops for Year 7s and 8s across the South West. What would you like the students to take away from the workshop and live show?

That they don’t need expensive equipment to be creative. They have incredible potential within themselves and they are able to access it when shown a few techniques.

Tour dates

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.

Image credits:
Jason Singh, credit Julian Fraser
DRIFTERS (1929) dir John Grierson, film stills - Courtesy BFI
The Fleet project image, IWant Design

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