Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs returns to SF for a legendary enhanced dj set! His productions are a collage of pop, electro, house and melodic, tuff rave. His debut album ‘Trouble’ is just more proof that TEED’s Orlando Higginbottom is one of the most fascinating, brilliant and musically kaleidoscopic artists in the world right now. And he’s about to stomp all over everywhere.
Growing up with classical music, Higginbottom eventuallyu discovered Jungle and the early days of dubstep. After winning a MySpace competition for music to accompany a painting in The Tate, judged by Huw Stephens and Felix from Basement Jaxx, he was led to Radio 1 play and the label, Greco-Roman. Up until this point, house and techno had barely registered – and he certainly wasn't listening to it. "I was making a style of music I knew nothing about and had no love for. I didn't know what the rules were and I guess that's why it was fun." That attitude saw him selected to join Oxfam and Damon Albarn in the Congo to make the Warp album 'Kinshasa One Two'. "The influence of the trip was massive. It made me worry less about what people think."
If the headpieces and the costumes have any antecedents it's the joyful, ultra-funky carnage of Earth Wind And Fire, although with just one member instead of a stage-full. He's got a neon white set that frames his performance in flowering dino spinal plates and a bugged out portable lighting rig that folds down into what he describes as a 'fucking huge flight case'. It is an improvement on the early days when he'd sweat on overpacked trains with a suitcase and a rucksack to play in Manchester to ten people. His shows, for the uninitiated, are a riot of light, energy and perfectly calibrated musical hedonism that scoops up house, electro, hip hop, UK funky and the compositional chops picked up as a classically-minded pre-teen playing piano and writing scores on manuscript paper.
These are all elements you'll hear singing loud and clear in his debut album, Trouble, and on standout moments Your Love and Household Goods. The former is a joyful, melodic, individual spin through the world of house music, taking the best elements (vibrant synth lines, a chorus as catchy as Starlight’s ‘Music Sounds Better’ and a elastic, 2-steppy bass line) and conjuring them into a modern pop classic of enormous dimensions. And the latter, well, Household Goods is arguably the track that trumpeted his arrival when it was released in November 2010. It was a signal charge: a notice that things had changed and music was sounding colourful again. It’s a point that is made repeatedly, brilliantly, through Trouble.
The debut album was recorded in his parent's Oxford garage, where he'd been playing records, rehearsing with bands and making tunes since he was a kid. It starts with an unexpected minute of ambience on the positivity-drenched opener Promises, which also offers another surprise: sunshine-tipped hi-life guitars. The title track was, he says, the first track that was shaped into a full song and thus provided a turning point, a kind of sonic ramp into the making of the album. If you're looking for the artist's personal favourite, start here. Garden is another friendly, colourful gem amongst gems that features more of Higginbottom’s warm and understated vocals, a duet with Luisa that was picked up for a global Nokia campaign and has helped take his sound around the world. “I write a lot about the Wednesday after, and that feeling that is everywhere in life, where you hope for great stuff, you hope for something meaningful and special, but at the same time you always know it's going to come to an end and there's something really sad and really glorious about that.”
Then there's a song like Panpipes which sees Orlando taking an interest in UK funky and adds something soft and gentle. Solo is his self-confessed 'dark' tune. "When I do it live people stand there for three minutes when it does its second drop everyone suddenly goes woooo". He made Closer with his friend Ed, although it actually started when they were 17 and recorded some humming. "It's a bit slightly 'scared in the dance' vibe. Feeling a bit sad in the club. I reckon loads of people feel a bit sad in the club sometimes." Closing track Stronger sums up the whole record, that emotion of feeling great but knowing that there's going to be a payback somewhere down the line. "It's half hands in the air, and half hankies in the air," says Orlando only half joking. "There are relationship tunes on there, there are tunes about having it out with the music industry. They're my lyrics. I did have to struggle with them, and some of them are cheap as fuck. I think I just about get away with it."
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: getting away with it, and some.