Music and Lyrics by Slowstepper
© Slowstepper 2021
Terra is the debut album from Slowstepper, a new experimental multimedia music outfit from the UK and the Netherlands. The band is headed up by theatre and music makers Max Barton and Jethro Cooke, who founded the award-winning theatre/music company Second Body - their theatre concert STYX has toured to Australia, London and Edinburgh, received eight ★★★★★ reviews, and was set to tour again pre-pandemic. Between them they have made music and theatre work for several-thousand capacity venues from Austria to South Africa.
Terra is a multi-pronged project. The concept album sits at the centre, but there is also a podcast series in development, an epic live show and plans for a series of films. All of the material is united in dealing with the living being we call Earth; by fusing together cutting edge climate science, Gaia theory and searing original music, Terra gives voice to an array of the creatures who make up our planetary super-organism. In the process it explores how we might learn from the natural world in order to collectively build a sustainable future, take responsibility for our part in the climate crisis, and find hope in the face of encroaching disaster.
Throughout lockdown Slowstepper have worked ceaselessly to produce a highly-polished album featuring an array of phenomenal musicians. The creatures at the heart of Terra also play various different active roles within the compositions - for instance the album features songs constructed from migratory birdsong, the mating call of the arctic fox, and one generated using the genetic code of COVID-19 itself. Further tracks entitled Terra I through VI are collages constructed from lyrical and musical material drawn from the other tracks in combination, metaphorically giving voice to the planet as a whole.
Slowstepper are teaming up with Culture Declares Emergency (CDE), Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Animal Rebellion (AxR) to tap into activist circles, and are planning to work with Harriet Simms from Glass Ceiling PR in the run up to the album’s release.
Slowstepper have met with Tom Lewis at Decca Records regarding another album in development, as part of a relationship with producers Hamish Greer and Tom de Keyser - they are now in early discussions about Terra.
In a format that fuses Song Exploder, Radiolab and the Adam Buxton Podcast, Jethro and Max explore the science behind the album, climate activism, break apart the songs and talk to an illustrious array of guests. So far these guests include Mercury-award nominated musician Sam Lee, science historian Dr Daisy Hildyard, giant of film composition George Fenton, theatre legends Melly Still and April de Angelis, and Kay Michael of Culture Declares Emergency.
Through CDE, XR and AxR, Slowstepper are putting together a list of other high profile climate activists and artists to interview for the programme, and are in discussion with George Monbiot.
THE LIVE SHOW and FILMS
Slowstepper have relationships with a myriad of theatre producers, and plan to work with Hamish Greer, Tom de Keyser, the Citizens’ Theatre Glasgow, Shrinking Space and Kay Michael to develop a large-scale concert experience that incorporates projection and narrative to take gig-goers on a journey like no other. Shrinking Space are planning to financially support development of this work later this year.
Slowstepper are teaming up with the XR and AxR film departments to develop a series of videos over the coming months, which will be released as singles in the run up to album release. Alongside Hamish Greer and Tom de Keyser, there are early plans to develop a series of short films that combine the TED talk format with something more in the style of Thom Yorke’s ‘Anima’ - The producers have a working relationship with Netflix.
So far Slowstepper have raised £8500 to put these plans in motion. Shrinking Space offer a potential further £10,000. TEXEL foundation, who have previously supported the artists, are discussing a further donation. Slowstepper plan to put in an Arts Council bid for further funding - they have been successful multiple times in the past.