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Orbital look to the future after headlining the Bluedot Festival

PUBLISHED: 10:09 13 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:21 13 July 2017

Orbital headline the Lovell Stage on Bluedot's Saturday night . Photo by James Barlow

Orbital headline the Lovell Stage on Bluedot's Saturday night . Photo by James Barlow


Paul and Phil Hartnoll, the brothers behind the pioneering UK rave act ‘Orbital’ talk to Cheshire Life about reforming for Bluedot festival, keeping things fresh and the impact of politics on their music.

Orbital brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll preparing for their headlining performance. Photo by James BarlowOrbital brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll preparing for their headlining performance. Photo by James Barlow

“I felt like Luke Skywalker and now it feels like I’m Yoda or Obi Wan Kenobi” sniggers Paul, one half of legendary UK rave act Orbital. “If you can’t after 30 years feel that you’ve become at least a blackbelt what can you say?”

With UK rave innovators Orbital headlining the main stage of the Bluedot festival’s Saturday night, they are one of the trailblazing acts, like this year’s other headliners Pixies, to make their mark on this still very young festival. After thirty years of hard-hitting rave bangers, these brothers are back again, reuniting this year for a string of massive live dates in the UK.

“This festival was instrumental in getting us back together.” Paul says: “I saw Bluedot advertised last year with Jean Michel-Jarre and Underworld and thought ‘that is my kind of festival’,” with Phil reiterating “it’s perfect for us”.

There is a really good mix in the audience as well. It’s like a cross-section of ravers, teenagers and families”.

David Connick and Samantha Mathewson basking in the Luminarium. Photo by James BarlowDavid Connick and Samantha Mathewson basking in the Luminarium. Photo by James Barlow

Paul adds: “I just like the mixture of stuff going on here. In one nice, warm tent they are showing Contact, in another there is this mad psychedelic band called Henge and then in another you have a great act like Soulwax”.

An appreciation of different music, media and culture is at the heart of what Orbital do, taking inspiration from punk and electro music as well as their raver contemporaries. Since their 1989 debut single ‘Chimes’, recorded on their father’s cassette deck, the brothers have flirted with techno, house and trance whilst maintaining a unique, improvisational approach to live dance music.

“We make sure there are plenty of real synthesizers to tweak and play with on stage to make sure it doesn’t sound exactly like the record”, says Paul. “We like to keep things fresh”.

This forward-thinking attitude has steered the brothers’ music into political landscapes, littering their tracks with extended speeches regarding climate change and man-made disasters.

“We tend to pose questions with samples of speech like “Do you see what you are doing this planet?”, says Phil. “But I am not sure whether the next record will have a reactionary attitude to it or whether it’s going to say ‘enough of this, let’s relax and not concentrate on all that,’” muses Paul.

Even after eight albums, Paul and Phil have their sights set on releasing new music with duo recently remixing their own remix of Golden Girls’ 1992 track ‘Kinetic’.

Phil explains… “we wanted to do Kinetic live but then it went so well we thought we would put it out. It ended up as a remix of a remix of a remix.”

“But an album is next”, Paul assures us. “I like that format so that’s what I’m thinking about for September”.

With a legacy that still puts them on the bill for huge festivals and on the tip of the tongue for ravers everywhere, Orbital have an exciting summer of massive live dates and preparation for writing a new album. Paul and Phil prove that their experience only makes them better at making people move and keeping Orbital’s music new and compelling…

“What’s great is that we can still go up there and it still feels as fresh and exciting as it did 30 years ago”.

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