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Introducing our new guest blogger – Tom of Origamibiro


In a slight break from the norm, week 2 of the Origamibiro guest blogging slot will be written by Tom Hill, taking over from Jim – The Joy of Box. We asked Tom 10 questions to get to know him a bit better.

Who are you ?

I’m Tom Hill. I’m a Nottingham based sonic artist, musician and soundtrack composer. I work under the moniker Origamibiro and have designed interactive installations and written and produced music in a variety of genres including electronica, classical, ambient, post-rock and experimental, among others.

However pretentious it sounds, I prefer the term sonic artist to musician as my work is really about exploring how to use sound as a means of engaging people on a creative and emotional level. I sculpt and arrange sounds until they make me feel something. Sometimes that’s music, sometimes it’s noise. If I was stood next to someone like my friend Ben Martin (brilliant Nottingham saxophone player and talented musician in the true sense of the word) I’d feel odd about putting myself in the same category. So that’s why I make the distinction

What brought you to Nottingham?

Back in 2000, I was part of an electronica duo called Wauvenfold with Noel Murphy. Wichita Records wanted to sign us up but Noel was living in Nottingham after finishing his degree and I was still living in Kent.  At the age of 22, the thought of passing up the opportunity of being signed to a record label was not an option to me, so my partner and I (who luckily also fancied a change) moved to Nottingham to make a go of it. Wauvenfold has long since disbanded but we made some great friends and Noel and I still work together, although on very different projects. More on this later…

What keeps you in Nottingham?

Friends, creativity and convenience. I made some incredible friends up here; inspirational creative people who I couldn’t live without; people who are encouraging, challenging and constructive. I need strong creative minds to bounce ideas off and I’ve got it on tap here in Nottingham. I also like how easy it is to get about. Back home, to see some of my friends, I’d often have to travel an hour and a half just to share a beer. Here, it’s usually a fifteen minute walk. I like things being simple like that. My partner, Rachel, and I are still together, though now with a mortgage and 5 month old little girl. That kind of keeps us put too!

What makes you different to other creative people in Nottingham?

I think that’s a pretty loaded question to answer briefly but I think, in terms of what successes I can lay claim to, they can generally be attributed to sticking to my guns and honing my specific interest in sound and music. I’ve been making and performing slightly odd, unconventional brands of music and audiovisual installations for around 15 years now. By unconventional, I simply mean, not popular (as in pop music). It may seem that making an unpopular brand of something makes it harder to get noticed, whereas, actually, when you think of how many people want to be pop stars and how many people want to be obscure instrumental, post-classical audiovisual experimentalists, there’s clearly less to contend with. Fundamentally, my job is to create atmosphere and emotion and to facilitate or encourage ideas. That’s what I’ve been doing for 15 years. I’d hope that there’ll always be a need for that in the world. When there isn’t, I’ll be out of a job. But then, I’m not sure I’d want to inhabit a world like that.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Doing more of what I do. So far 2011 has been the most productive year of my life. If the ball keeps rolling like this, I’m hopefully on my way to having the career I’ve spent 15 years working at. I’d like to be soundtracking feature films and touring properly with the other guys in the band, Jim Boxall (The Joy of Box) and Andy Tytherleigh. With so many other commitments, we’ve not really had the chance to push our live set to its full potential. If you’ve seen our Quad Time promo video, you might see why. There’s so much equipment and aspects of our show to consider, just keeping on top of that and work and parenthood… It’s a lot to juggle. I hope the album, “Shakkei” (out in July) will help move things along a bit. More on that later too!

What do you wish you had more time for?

Doing nothing. Or more specifically, having no plans and just dropping everything to go for, say, a walk in the peak district with my Partner and daughter. I love having no agenda and spending time with people I love.

What keeps you awake at night?

Ideas. When I get an idea in my head, it runs amok. I have to get up and make lists and notes just to stop them gallivanting round my cranium.

What do you think is Nottingham’s best kept secret?

Well, Origamibiro, of course. Although, I’d say, look out for Visual Display Unit (aka Noel Murphy). That man has ideas people wouldn’t be able to conceive, let alone think possible. The difference between him and other people working in his field are that he can build these things himself and actually make them a reality.

What would you like to see more of in Nottingham?

Greenery. Trees and grass. I’m a ‘less is more’ kinda guy, so I can tell you what I’d like to see less of. Less shops, less concrete, less focus on financial viability and more on emotional and mental well being. When trinity square car park was pulled down, the best thing they could have done was to put a small park there, or at least some trees and benches. There’s a lot of data out there to suggest a city functions better and is more well off if the people are contented and calm. Purely focusing on money really is short-sighted.

What Big thing are you currently working on?

Quite a few:

Installations-wise… there are two fairly big projects. The first coming up is called “Pipeline: They Came Running”. I’m working with Trish Evans on an installation taking place for Light Night, Friday 18th February. Long exposure photography of Parkour runners with lights attached to them will be projected and exhibited under the NCP car park next to the Broadmarsh centre (Collin street/Maid Marian Way).  I’ve captured recordings of the free runners from a unique perspective that will be played at the event through headphones and speakers. You’ll have to attend to see and hear for yourselves!

The second project is a big commission Noel Murphy and I have designed and are currently building called Blockwerk Orchestra. It’s an installation designed for the partially sighted group ‘Artfully Sighted’ to go in Nottingham Castle’s Long Gallery. It’s an interactive installation that invites users to explore art through sound, music and movement. As people move around the gallery, they directly influence the music and sounds. It’s a mammoth project that will be unveiled in March this year. Watch this space.

Soundtracks wise… I’m currently writing a series of musical themes for the World Economic Forum. They’re having a huge rebranding and have also just finished a pivotal conference in Davos, the footage highlights of which I’m also providing music for.

And, of course, there’s the Origamibiro album scheduled for release in July. I’ve cut a deal with two labels for a co-release to distributed it in America, Europe and Japan. There should be a few live dates coming up around then too…

So, as you can see it’s all go in 2011!