Category Archives: The Shadow Orchestra

Last ever Shadow Orchestra gig – Barfly, Camden

After filming and recording on the Warboat, I headed up to Camden to play the last ever Shadow Orchestra gig, before we are truly reborn as Talk In Colour.

We were on the bill with French electronica artist Yult, and jazz trumpeter Matthew Halsall at the Barfly in Camden as part of the London Jazz Festival – a lineup that was supposed to be showcasing the “future of jazz”. I’m not entirely sure we fell into that category, but I did play some major 7th chords…

On the bill at the Barfly

Mary and Nick await the soundcheck:

Mary and Nick

Yult soundchecking with Tanya Auclair – I enjoyed his crunchy, squelchy beats:

Yult soundchecking

Overall, we played a blinder, though Chris’ laptop had a bit of a meltdown and we had to restart a couple of tracks (and ultimately completely bin our planned closer Radiophonic Freakout and just played Sweet as a Nut instead):

Shadow Orchestra at the Barfly

As with our last gig at the Queen of Hoxton, I played standing up and really enjoyed the freedom:

Kat - Shadow Orchestra

Although I couldn’t stay for his whole set as I was on the verge of collapsing from tiredness, I enjoyed what I heard of Matthew Halsall’s Remixed project. Live trumpet and drums with synths and samples made for a great mix, with more than a few nods to the likes of DJ Shadow:

Matthew Halsall

A great night, and a fitting end to an era. The Shadow Orchestra is dead – long live Talk In Colour!

Junkhearts Premier – London Film Festival

Junkhearts posterLast Friday, the members of Talk In Colour (formerly the Shadow Orchestra) donned our smartest clothes and headed to Leicester Square for the premier of Junkhearts – directed by Chris’ wife Tinge Krishnan – as part of the London Film Festival.

Chris did the soundtrack for the film, and two of the most significant scenes heavily feature the Shadow Orchestra track Nick’s Lament (the instrumental version of new Talk In Colour single, Nightshifts – get it for free here!) as well as other bits and bobs played by members of the band. Regular readers may remember this post from more than a year ago, when I did my recording session for the soundtrack during the worst bout of RSI I’ve had so far.

Junkhearts explores the story of Frank (played brilliantly by Eddie Marsan), an alcoholic ex-soldier whose current battle is against Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A chance encounter with young homeless girl Lynette – the frankly phenomenal Candese Reid in her first film role –  leads to a seemingly unstoppable spiral of events that can only head one way.

Scripted by Simon Frank, the film deals with a lot of difficult themes – PTSD, homelessness, addiction, loneliness – and isn’t afraid to confront them head on. Lest this sound unrelentingly bleak, the film is packed with uplifting moments, with plenty of humour, gorgeous cinematography and – of course – Chris’ score. And from a purely personal perspective it was frankly spine-tingling to sit in a massive cinema and hear my harp twinkling around the room.

The performances from all the cast make it a riveting watch, thanks to some great casting. As well as Marsan and Reid, Romola Garai is luminous as frantically unravelling middle-class mum Christine, and Tom Sturridge is a convincingly nasty piece of work as Lynette’s boyfriend Danny. Together, they’ve created believable characters that I really warmed to, and tell an engaging story.

The soundtrack also features tracks from my other band Sunday Driver, along with other upcoming independent musicians, including Laura Kidd (She Makes War) and Robyn Sherwell. Sadly all of these are rather blink-and-you’ll-miss it appearances, but we’re all in the credits 🙂

Junkhearts will be out nationally from early November in arthouse cinemas across the country.  I highly recommend it. Yes, I’m biased, but I also genuinely think it’s fantastic.

Here are a few frankly terrible photos from the premier. I was clearly too busy hoovering up free champagne to hold the camera straight.

London Film Festival

Free bar!

Mary and Tinge

Mary with director Tinge Krishnan

Romola Garai, Eddie Marsan, Candese Reid - Junkhearts cast

The cast - Romola Garai, Eddie Marsan and Candese Reid

Talk In Colour/Shadow Orchestra - junkhearts

Talk In Colour (though we're the Shadow Orchestra in the film credits)

Dave Talk In Colour

Drummer Dave hobnobs with the stars

Free Music on Mondays: Talk in Colour – Nightshifts, and Sweet as a Duck remix

Sorry to sound like a stuck record, but this is yet another post pimping my newly-launched band Talk In Colour (ex-Shadow Orchestra), with two tracks for you to download absolutely free.

Right now we’re giving away our first single, Nightshifts – download it now from Soundcloud:

And as a special treat, here’s the free download of Duckyboy’s Sweet as a Duck remix of the old Shadow Orchestra track Sweet as a Nut:

From The Shadow Orchestra to Talk In Colour – new name, new album, new (free) single!

Talk In Colour logo

The Shadow Orchestra is dead. Long live Talk In Colour!

As I’ve previously mentioned, deciding to rename a band is no small thing, but The Shadow Orchestra have bitten the bullet and changed our name. From now on, we are Talk In Colour.

We’re currently feeling very lonely and friendless on Facebook and Twitter, so go and hit us up.

And as an extra special treat, here’s a free download of our brand new single, Nightshifts. Feel free to pimp it far and wide:

Nightshifts – Talk In Colour

Excitingly, the track features in the new film Junkhearts, premiering at the London Film Festival on Friday and going nationwide in November. Check out the exclusive trailer on the Guardian website.

Finally, as a bit of light relief in what’s been a pretty stressful week for me and the band, here are some of the names that didn’t make it on to the shortlist. If you ever need a band name, just drop us a line – we’ve got literally hundreds.

  • Dick Dancer and the Discocunts
  • Fox Penis
  • Nights of Light
  • Knights of Light
  • Future Unit
  • The Chris Bangs Quintet
  • Bangs!
  • The Bangs Gang
  • Pigwings
  • Where’s the child?
  • Philip and his Dog
  • The Meat Sweats

Get up offa that thing! Adventures in harp playing

Pedal harp players like me play sitting down, right? Always have done. It’s how we’re taught, and it’s how everyone does it. I don’t know why I’ve never questioned it until now, but I recently saw a blog post from Deborah Henson-Conant (described as the “Jimi Hendrix of the harp”) which showed several pedal harpists plaing standing up. It looked fucking cool.

For technical reasons it’s tricky to play complicated music standing up – pedal harps use pedals on both sides of the instrument to create sharps and flats, so if you need to make a lot of changes, you’d probably fall over. Then I realised that the Shadow Orchestra’s songs didn’t have much pedalling in at all, so after a quick practice at a rehearsal, I thought I’d try and play a whole gig standing up.

Kat standing up playing harp

First gig standing up - I can dance! (Pic by Ginny)

I found it incredibly liberating – I could dance and throw myself about, I got a lot more oopmh into the bass notes, and it felt like a real energy lift on stage.  Frankly, I felt like a rock guitarist! It also helps that I’m quite short, so I don’t have to bend over too much – the less said about the state of my back, the better…

I can’t wait for our next gig (14th November at the BarFly in Camden with Matthew Halsall and Yult), to have another go.

Shadow Orchestra back at the Queen of Hoxton – Soundcrash with Anchorsong and Elan Tamara

Soundcrash billingFor the second time in as many months, the Shadow Orchestra found ourselves back at the Queen of Hoxton – this time as guests of Soundcrash, playing with Anchorsong and Elan Tamara.

I’m really growing to love the place as a great venue for a gig (although the sound system was a bit badly-behaved compared to last time…) – it’s easy to get to, the stage isn’t teeny tiny, it’s a good size but feels intimate, and there’s a great green room to chill out and get changed in, unlike many venues in this fair city.

Despite a tricky soundcheck, we played a great gig to a fantastic crowd. It was my first gig standing up (more of that on the blog later this week), and I had a great time. Not so impressed about spending 30 minutes painstakingly putting my stage makeup on, only to sweat it off in about 30 seconds. It was as hot as Hades up on stage, and not much cooler in the audience.

Huge thanks to Rob and the Soundcrash team for pulling together a great night, and booking us, of course 🙂   I only heard Elan Tamara’s set distantly from backstage as I was getting ready, but it was great to meet such a nice and friendly band (and help them lug their equipment upstairs – any time, ladies!). They seem to be playing a lot around London, so I’m sure I’ll get the chance to hear them properly soon.

I was totally blown away by Anchorsong’s amazing set – meaty beats and dreamy harmonies, played by a guy hammering away on a keyboard and mpc, and backed up by live strings. Awesome. Can’t wait to see him at KOKO in November at the Soundcrash/Tru Thoughts night with Belleruche and a whole bunch of other great acts.

There are some fantastic pics of the night taken by Vent Photosgo and check out their Flickr set. This one is my favourite (luckily you can’t see how much I’m sweating…):

Shadow Orchestra @ Queen of Hoxton, London, 5th October 2011

Pic courtesy of - thanks Jon!

And here are a few rather less professional snaps from me:

Shadow Orchestra

New fairy lights! Flowers on the harp, pink lights for Mary's mic stand


Anchorsong in action

Backstage Queen of Hoxton

Dave and Mary chill out backstage

Music on Mondays: Sweet as a Duck remix

Big up to my housemate Duck for this awesome new remix of Sweet as a Nut by the Shadow Orchestra. I give you Duckyboy’s Sweet as a Duck remix:

Shadow Orchestra play Queen of Hoxton for WahWah45s

My life over the past week has been a horrific explosion of gigs, admin, sorting out stuff, driving, Travelodging, baking and working, topped off with a dose of a rather nasty cold. Sadly, it has left little time for blogging, sleeping, eating and dressing myself properly.

Here are a few pics from the Shadow Orchestra’s gig last Friday night at the Queen of Hoxton for WahWah45s, supporting the fantastic Hackney Colliery Band. Thanks to my unfortunate schedule I was gutted not to actually manage to see their gig, as I had to be up at 8am the next day to drive to Lincoln. More of that later…


Shadow Orchestra billing

On the bill at the Queen of Hoxton


Dave Shadow orchestra

Dave feed his massive coke habit in the Green Room (as an aside, it was nice to have a proper backstage area to get changed and hang out before our gig. Made a change from the toilets...)


Shadow Orchestra Soundcheck

The ubiquitous soundcheck shot



The lovely WahWah45s boys - Dom and Chris


Vivien of Holloway dress

New dress! News dress! I got this in the Vivien of Holloway sale


Shadow Orchestra plays Off The Tracks

Another weekend, another gig bloody miles away. After last week’s epic trip to Galtres festival, the 120-mile drive to Castle Donington near Derby for a Shadow Orchestra gig at the small-but-perfectly-formed Off The Tracks festival seemed like a mere hop up the motorway.

The festival seemed quieter than when we’ve been in previous years, and the second stage (which we were headlining) had been moved to a much smaller barn than last time, with the world’s teeniest stage.

But we had a great little crowd, despite being programmed at the same time as Dhol Foundation, the mainstage headliners.  They sounded brilliant from the little I heard, and I was gutted to be missing them

I’m bloody knackered though – I think I may have festival fatigue. Still, only gigs on 8th, 9th, 10th, 16th and 23rd September to go, then I can relax a bit…

Here are some pics:

Here’s Manchester reggae band Extra Love giving it some, err, extra love:


Shadow Orchestra billing Off The Tracks

We *really* need to get some new blurb...

King Capische

Sheffield's King Capisce - Thanks to guitarist Tim for booking us for the stage!

King Capisce

Shadow Orchestra

Soundchecking on the smallest stage EVER

Shadow Orchestra

Oooh arty pic!

GigFAIL and GigWIN: Shadow Orchestra at Bimble Bandada and Soundcrash

Oh the irony – on Friday I was happily larking about on Twitter, retweeting the Guardian’s excellent Worst Gigs Ever piece, and linking to my post of Best, Worst and Weirdest gigs. Little did I know that in the space of 2 days, I would experience both ends of the “awful to awesome” gig spectrum.

It started as I got in the car with Nick from the Shadow Orchestra, and headed down to a field just outside Lewes for the Bimble Bandada festival. The traffic was a bit sticky leaving London through the Blackwall Tunnel, as it usually is.

Then it got really slow just before we reached the junction we needed off the M25, but we made it with plenty of time to chill out at the festival before our set at 7.30pm.


Dave turned up uncharacteristically late but still in good time, so we grabbed some tasty food while we waited for Chris and Mary. And waited, and waited, and waited. Our stage time crept closer, then passed, and the sun went down.


Unfortunately Chris and Mary never made it. They’d got stuck in the worst traffic jam on the M25 for years, and ended up motionless for four or five hours. Despite our desperate negotiations for a later timeslot, they were still over an hour away by 9pm and it simply wasn’t going to work.

Dave, Nick and I headed home utterly dejected. It’s one thing to play a bad gig but at least know you gave it your best shot – it’s another entirely to not be able to play at all due to circumstances completely out of your control. I’ve been gigging for more than 15 years and I don’t think that’s ever happened to me.

So we were understandably a bit nervous about Saturday’s gig for Soundcrash up on the Dalston Roof Park. But luckily (despite a couple of dicey moments, especially when it started tipping with rain 10 minutes before our set and screwed the electrics) our experience was completely brilliant.

We played a total blinder to a fantastic up-for-it crowd, and ended the night on a total high. I was so overexcited I nearly crashed the car on the way home. Ooops…

Here are some pics:

Shadow Orchestra soundcrash soundcheck

Soundchecking an' that

Soundcrash soundman

Sound engineer MJ does his best with the world's smallest PA

Soundcrash roof party 2 running order

The cunningly waterproofed running order


Dave and Nick Shadow Orchestra

Dave and Nick hang out in the sunshine

View from Dalston roof park

Worth it for the incredible view alone


There were strawberries growing in tubs on the roof - I ate one, it was delicious (sorry)

Collectif Sindy dress Kat Shadow Orchestra

Rocking my new dress - and terrible damp hair

Double rainbows all the way

Double rainbows all the way

Dalston roof park

The end of a great night