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© Rafal Bojar
© Rafal Bojar
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If John Williams Wrote a Radiohead Song, It Would Be Move Orchestra's 'Ocalenie'

Picture of Ryan Kristobak
Music Editor
Updated: 8 June 2017
At a time when streaming platforms are dominating and vinyl sales resurging, it’s difficult to tell whether we, the listeners, are being conditioned to digest music in short, absentminded doses or in extended sessions that promote conceptual investigation.

Whatever the industry’s target may be, Move Orchestra isn’t playing by their rules anyways.

Hailing from Fayetteville, AR, and comprised of brothers Connor, Ryan, and Cuinn Brogan, Move Orchestra caught critics’ eyes with the release of their debut release, Ep1. An audacious composition, three of the EP’s four tracks were over seven minutes in length, mixing electronic and orchestral elements to create enrapturing slow-builders.

Now, after two years of writing, Move Orchestra is ready to roll out its next installment, and it begins with the mystical and gorgeous “Ocalenie.”

After about 15 delightful seconds of birds chirping, the trio storms out of the gates on “Ocalenie” with some hummingbird string strokes. Shrewdly building up further layers of instrumentation, vocals, and booming percussion, the track hits its first climax between the two-and-a-half and three minute marks as Connor Brogan ascends into the upper reaches of his register.

Settling down for approximately a minute, Move Orchestra starts the climb towards the song’s second crest. While the first half is, in small measures, reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Burn The Witch,” the second half of the song is all John Williams. Like, the-moment-during-your-search-for-the-Holy-Grail-when-you-come-over-a-hill-and-a-field-full-of-dinosaurs-grazing-in-front-of-a-wizarding-school-castle-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away-first-comes-into-view, kind of John Williams. Sure, that’s a tall order, and maybe a slightly bloated one at that, but it’s undeniable that, in the near-eight minutes that the track occupies, Move Orchestra have created something sincerely remarkable on “Ocalenie.”

Culture Trip is pleased to premiere “Ocalenie,” so give it a listen or five and make sure to read our interview with the three Brogan brothers below to learn more about what it’s like to write music with your siblings, how “Ocalenie” came together, and the visual plans for the upcoming record.

Culture Trip: Moving forward from Ep1, what did you want to do differently on this next record? What kind of progressions can fans expect to hear?

Connor: Ep1 was sort of our first attempt at creating a cohesive piece of work that was intended be listened to, all the way through. There were a lot of mistakes and certain elements that we felt were not executed in the way we envisioned. There are a lot of mistakes on this new record too, but hopefully less and, at the very least, mistakes we can be okay with. I don’t speak for everyone, but I think my only real goal with this record was to create a more in-depth experience for the listener and for myself. I love being immersed in worlds, and it doesn’t matter if that world comes from a book, a film, video game, or a theme park, that feeling of immersion is still the same. You feel like you’re someplace else, someplace unexplored and worth discovering. It’s mysterious and exciting. It changes the way you see and the way you think; you process information differently. I love that feeling so much and I just want to be able to create it somehow. Not sure if we accomplished that or not, but I think it’s something we’ll continue to improve upon as we progress.

Ryan: I think for this song in particular, we were trying out some arrangement techniques and instrumentation that were completely new to us. It was very exciting at the beginning, but also scary because we had no idea what we were doing. Still don’t. It’s impossible for us to ask our fans to not have expectations for this music especially since they have previous material to compare it to, but if they can try to clear their minds and just be open to whatever they hear, that would be the best approach.

CT: You three brothers have been writing music together for a very long time. Describe what it has been like to develop as musicians together through all these years. Are there certain challenges and benefits that come with being siblings in a band?

Ryan: For us, personally, it has been pretty rewarding, writing music with each other. We all have a similar mindset on how we’d like to compose each piece of music, but equally different. Cuinn’s ideas can be vastly different from Connor’s, and my ideas can be vastly different from both. I think it’s a good thing. The one downfall I think we have is making decisions. I think that’s why it takes us so long to finish a piece of music.

CT: Looking at all those years of working together, how exactly does the writing process work now?

Ryan: Currently we all have our separate “writing” rooms in our apartment. In the middle, there is the main “studio.” Usually someone will show the other an idea they wrote on the computer. Then we’ll take that bare idea and try to add to it with zero concept. If it’s not working out, then the person behind that idea will give us their thoughts, feelings and ideas behind the piece of music to help guide the others. It’s usually a pretty separated writing process that is then collectively put together toward the end.

CT: Your website states that you “write and perform music based on film.” What exactly does this mean. Are you taking already existing film and writing music to it, or do you create original film and then write music to it?

Connor: Yeah, we should take that off our website. It just means that we base a lot of our song structures on what’s happening in a particular visual. We usually write to pre-recorded material. YouTube videos mostly because it’s easy to search for specific scenes or imagery that we find inspiring. Then we mute the audio and come up with something of our own. Sometimes we’ll choose a scene because it already conveys a mood similar to what we’re going for and that helps guide the music along. But we’ve written music to accompany other forms of art as well; it’s all an experiment. We don’t really know if any of this stuff works, we just use it as a means to get away from following the same structure over and over.

Ryan: Ha ha does our website still say that? I think we used that because we’ve always wanted to score a film. Still do.

Cuinn: We’ve written some music inspired by films or some videos we’ve seen before. And when I say inspired, it could be anywhere from the story, to the visuals, to the music. But we write music like most [people]: based on our own experiences. We use visuals or films sometimes as a way of guidance or simply just something that fits the visual in our head—to look at as a template for the experience we want to convey with a piece of music. There are rare times where we’ll see something and want to write specifically for the visual or film.

CT: Ep1 had its spectacular visual companions. How are you looking to amplify the visual experience for your music with this next record?

Connor: Thank you, it definitely didn’t feel spectacular at the time. We were just making things work with what we had. We shot everything on an iPhone and it was very DIY (as is everything we do). But I appreciate that you noticed the visuals. We did put forth an effort to tell a story and try to make them interesting. For this record, I will say that the visuals still play a substantial role and hopefully feel more cohesive. As I mentioned before, I like the idea of world-building and creating something that is immersive. I want the listener to feel like all of these “songs” come from the same place and when they recall the music in later years, they’ll remember the world they were in at that time. We are trying different things again so we don’t know if it will work until the project is complete.

Cuinn: Well, we’ve upgraded to the latest iPhone…

CT: Do you think it is vital for artists to reach further when it comes to visuals?

Cuinn: No, it’s not vital, but it does help with immersing the listener into the piece of music, giving the listener more of an experience if done right. Using multiple art forms to convey the same feeling or story can be really challenging, which makes it all the more gratifying when it’s accomplished. It’s interesting to see the interfacing between the music and another art form (film/painting/dance/sculpture). On the other hand, music alone is like a concealed experience, almost more open to anything.

CT: Can you explain what “Ocalenie” is trying to convey in terms of lyrics and sound?

Connor: I feel like the lyrics and sound of “Ocalenie” can easily be interpreted in more than one way. The beginning may feel adventurous to some and stagnant to others. The minor tonality at the end may come across as dark and hopeless, but for people who don’t view a minor key as sad, they may see mystery and wonder. I’m one of those people that feels like a definite answer to something can sometimes be kind of boring. It leaves no room for imagination or creativity. I feel like it’s more important for the listener to hear the music and explore it’s meaning, rather than be told what it should mean. I don’t want to take away the purpose of the music by telling people what to feel. They can read the lyrics and decipher it themselves.

CT: What is the track’s title referring to—is it the Polish film?

Connor: The track title isn’t referring to anything except that it’s the Polish word for “salvation/rescue/escape.” The original title was actually “Escape,” but having had so much influence from my friend from Poland, Rafal Bojar (an amazing artist, photographer and storyteller, who created the artwork and visuals for this track), I wanted to rename the song to suggest more of a collaborative effort to bring this song to life. He has taught us so much and we owe him a great deal.

CT: You definitely displayed orchestral moments on Ep1, but the second half of “Ocalenie” really shifts you into soundtrack territory. How did this composition come about and is this a common theme that listeners can expect on the EP? Will there still be a lot of electronic elements to the music?

Ryan: We wrote the foundation of this piece of music almost directly after Ep1. I think at the time, we were a little tired of hearing electronic instrumentation, so, naturally, we wrote for acoustic instruments. I can’t really remember how it came about. I know that Connor brought the idea to me late one night. We had put the song away for about a year, and when we brought it back out, we had completely different influences. So we just finished it by being present with what we heard.

Connor: There are still electronic elements behind the music. Really, everything is electronic because it’s written on the computer, so yes, those components are still there, but the “electronics” have taken on a bit of a different character. It may or may not be obvious when you hear it. It’s hard to remember exactly how the composition came together, but it began someplace else entirely and was heavily influenced by John Williams. After we revisited the track a year later and had lyrics, the meaning behind the music had changed and so we had to readjust where the story would end. The music might have a soundtrack quality as you mentioned, simply because it’s written to a particular sequence from a movie. That’s the best I can explain it. The “orchestral” sounds are much more common on this record, yes.

CT: At the beginning of “Ocalenie” you hear footsteps and birds chirping. Do you try to incorporate a lot of natural sound into your music?

Connor: We want our music to sound organic so, yes, we do try to incorporate those sounds in all of our tracks unless it’s irrelevant in some way. We don’t want the music to feel like it lives in a dead place.

Ryan: I like hearing everyday sounds in our music, and most music in general. Not sure why, but it’s comforting. Although in retrospect, I wish we didn’t live next to so many birds.