OMG Orchestral Manoeuvres in Garage

With the orchestral phenomenon sweeping the UK and bringing sold-out arenas for collaborations with the Hacienda, Lush, Miss Moneypenny’s, Colours and Pete Tong, next up for the classical treatment – and taking advantage of the recent resurgence in interest with tracks from the likes of Jorja Smith and Preditah – is the UK garage scene.

The tour, calling in at Birmingham’s Institute 2 on the 23rd November, will see the special House and Garage Orchestra perform with a string of guest vocalists including iconic old school artists behind the songs. We caught up with MC Neat, Kele Le Roc and Leanne Brown to find out more…

Leanne is thrilled to be part of the tour and to see the music she loves
reaching a new audience. She said: “I am so privileged to be alive and
still active in the music scene for the arrival of the House and Garage crossover to orchestral, from being electronic based.

“This new phenomenon will keep the scene alive for people who still love those tunes from back in the day. It’s amazing how many people are so excited about it; It has brought back a strong community of ravers and artists to enjoy the scene again. This time however, we are joined by a team of superb musicians. I’m looking forward to making new memories.

“I love underground music, my personal preference for tunes when I’m listening in the club or in the car is underground and raw, however my musical career began with me playing classical music as part of a Steel Orchestra for years, so merging the two together in order to create something credible is like a dream come true for me. I feel so utterly excited about performing backed by the orchestra, as my mind is always whirring with song arrangements, so it will itch a big scratch for me.

Shy Cookie and Ish have worked insanely hard to get this thing on the road; that level of graft has to pay off. This is a great concept with and great team. I think that the guys here have helped to set in motion a new and exciting era of live club music.”

MC Neat is also confident the Orchestra will be a huge success so was happy to take time out from writing, recording and performing in his own right to be part of it.

“The clash between the styles is exactly what music is about: experimenting. It was simply a matter of time. We were a part of a scene that went huge, at the time you kinda don’t even notice, it’s when you look back years later you realise. “It’s an honour performing Little Bit Of Luck with the orchestra, the audience are always up for a good old sing along!”

Kele Le Roc is sure to go down a storm at the shows with that powerhouse voice and, like MC Neat, feels the garage and orchestral crossover was always going to happen because there’s a hidden affinity.

“To be honest it was only a matter of time as a lot of garage does lend itself musically to classical riffs. Not to mention its’ taking it back to the old school. Before we had technology we played music live and organically.

Kele started out as a teenager and is still performing, writing and so much more. “I think when you are so focused on what you want to achieve and I knew from a young age that I wanted to sing and perform. I just had tunnel vision. As my success grew, for me it was all destiny. Like ‘yes this is how my life is meant to be, this is what I envisaged’. So I really just took it all in my stride.

“I’m working most weekends sometimes three or four gigs a weekend. With any scene that comes to the forefront it resides back to the underground but we’re still all here bubbling. I’m just wrapping up a new album, so that’s been time consuming, it’s a full live album ironically but more soul.

One of the biggest moments of the show comes when Leanne blows the roof off with her band’s megahit Flowers.

While many artists come to resent their biggest hits, she will forever be thankful for what the song did for her – but she does admit she wishes people would be more open to her new songs too.

“I will forever have a huge amount of love for the song Flowers and everyone involved in making it – it has brought about opportunities that would not have occurred otherwise.

I have loads of other material that has legs however but Flowers seems to be very dominant still whenever I pitch new material, as it reminds people of that wicked holiday they had in Napa or Ibiza.

“That said, I feel nothing but gratitude for the track and everyone who made it. It feels like family. I’ve heard it A LOT though lol.”

Leanne is still working hard within the industry and in fact within the
scene, so it’s clear it hasn’t gone away as many thought – it’s simply returned to its underground roots waiting for its next moment in the spotlight. Which is now, thanks to the Orchestra.

Leanne revealed: “I can honestly say I have never been so busy doing shows and performances as I am now – and have been for the past four years.

“I can imagine the same is the case for a lot of the other Old Skool artists. This is predominantly at UKG based events – the scene has had a resurgence amongst the young generation especially – they seem to love it just as much as we all did 20 plus years ago.

I like to keep my shows as fresh possible so my hubby Andy and I work together to create re-works and merge them with original material whenever possible. I’ve also been making some Trap music with some producers from that scene. I have become cool to my kids now lol.”

With a new generation of DJs, promoters and producers building on the sound their parents raved to, this isn’t all about nostalgia, it’s about celebrating a genre that’s gone from guilty pleasure to feel good funk and bassline behomoth with a fast growing following that’s about to blow it mainstream.


The House & Garage Orchestra
23rd November at  Birmingham o2 Institute 2
Tickets are available via SeeTickets

Main image by Veronika Marx

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