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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

GUY RAZ, host:

And I'm Guy Raz.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: Orchestral, lush, elegant - those are the words often used to describe the ambient soundscapes by the British DJ and composer Simon Green. He's better known by his stage name, Bonobo.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: In the electronic music world, Bonobo is a star. But unlike many DJs and producers who compose and perform off their Apple laptops, Simon Green performs his music with a full band, as many as nine musicians.

Mr. SIMON GREEN (Composer): I want to try and be as representative to the process as I can. So rather than just playing back samples and sounds from a laptop, I try and break it down to the original parts that went into the process.

(Soundbite of "Eyesdown")

Ms. ANDREYA TRIANA (Singer): (Singing) Hands up. I got my eyes facing down. I'll show you where my tears come down, slowly down. Hands up. I got my eyes facing down.

RAZ: The voice you're hearing right now is someone who works with Simon Green. Her name is Andreya Triana. And Simon Green and Andreya Triana join me now from the studios of KEXP in Seattle as they wrap up their North American tour. Welcome.

Ms. TRIANA: Hi.

Mr. GREEN: Hey.

RAZ: Simon, first to you. Tell me about how you would describe your sound.

Mr. GREEN: Well, it's kind of difficult to put it into one genre because it is informed by many different kind of aspects of the musical spectrum. I mean, I grew up listening to a lot of folk music. And then I came through getting interested in hip-hop in the '90s and then into the electronic scene that was starting to blow up in the U.K., specifically and - yeah. I mean, it comes from all of those places, but I guess the most common description would be kind of downtempo or electronica.

RAZ: Let's listen to a song that you recently released. This is a - from a - an anniversary album from your label. And there are so many layers in this track. There's horns and vocals. Let's take a listen.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. TRIANA: I know. Yes, I know. I know how the time here has gone. Now I know. Yes, I know. I know how the time here has gone. Oh how the time has gone, and now I know...

RAZ: It's so amazing to hear this because it sounds at one point like a klezmer song or like a Balkan band, and then it goes into this electronic sound and soul sound. And that, of course, is you, Andreya Triana, on vocals, your beautiful voice.

Ms. TRIANA: Thank you.

RAZ: What about Simon's music? I mean, I read that you didn't really know him very well or his music very well before you met him.

Ms. TRIANA: Mm-hmm.

RAZ: I have to assume that you now like his music a lot.

Ms. TRIANA: It's all right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: What is it about his music that you think brings your voice out?

Ms. TRIANA: I think it's the way that Si can create incredible soundscapes, really. I'm like - you know, when we're in the studio, I'm constantly amazed at kind of what you can hear, you know? I can kind of - as I said, I'm kind of quite simplistic and quite raw in the way that I make music, so I could happily do an acoustic track. And then that's it, you know? But there was a track that we did, you know? And so I kind of got - we went into his kitchen and got all of these trinkets and made all of these intricate sounds. And even if you listen to "Black Sands," it just keeps growing the more that you hear it, you know? Especially if you're in a really quiet space or in a train or something, you can really listen.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. TRIANA: All of these sounds just keep growing, kind of, every time that you hear it. And I just think there are very few, you know, musicians or producers that do that nowadays. So that's why I really think, you know - and how he keeps moving forward, really, it's very inspiring.

(Soundbite of song, "Stay the Same")

RAZ: I want to play a song where we hear all these different sort of layers in Andreya's voice. It's called "Stay the Same."

(Soundbite of song, "Stay the Same")

Ms. TRIANA: (Singing) A night train. Midnight. Bags gathered round my feet. Possessions, some lessened, to carry with me. Heavy, soothing, like a gentle symphony. I rest my head right...

RAZ: Simon, can you sort of walk us through the song? What are we hearing?

Mr. GREEN: There is - there's two guitars. There's a nylon guitar plus a ukulele. There's also some effected harp and effected piano. There's also the drums sequence, the kicks and the snares. And there's a soprano saxophone, which we kind of looped and manipulated and layered.

(Soundbite of song, "Stay the Same")

Ms. TRIANA: (Singing) Seasons change. They will never be the same. I'm hoping I will stay the same. Reasons strange, why we always play these games.

Mr. GREEN: And various other sort of ambient sounds and sort of, you know, more atmospheric kind of abstract samples that sort of fill the gaps or harmonize certain parts, and of course strings.

(Soundbite of song, "Stay the Same")

Ms. TRIANA: (Singing) I left it with you, a note that was discreet. I made sure I put it...

RAZ: This song - and I don't mean this in a bad way - it seems almost emotionally manipulative because it's - it really takes you someplace. It takes you - your, sort of, mind somewhere. Did you want to do that?

Mr. GREEN: Well, yeah. I guess I always want to make someone engage emotionally in music - I mean, personally. I think, you know, people get different things from music. Some people are purely concerned with kind of groove and rhythm, which, obviously, I am as well, but I like a sense of emotional engagement with music and if it can sort of transport to somewhere else. I mean - so, obviously, I make music that I consider to be very personal because, you know, I think that the main aspect is just to keep it as human as possible.

(Soundbite of song, "Stay the Same")

Ms. TRIANA: (Singing) Seasons change. They will never be the same. I'm hoping I will...

RAZ: Andreya, do you - I mean, when you're on stage, do you want to sort of create that emotional experience as well?

Ms. TRIANA: Absolutely. Absolutely. I don't think it really - it comes from singing soul music, really. I've always maintained that I don't see a soul singer as just Aretha Franklin belting out, you know, or Stevie Wonder. I see soul music as, you know, someone like Kurt Cobain, who really had that raw voice and that raw energy and put every single morsel of himself into what he was saying. And every time I sing and I'm on stage, even if I've gone to bed, you know, incredibly late, and had to get up really early and I'm really haggard, you know, I still get that energy out there somehow. And I always hope that people kind of go home more moved than they came into the gig being.

(Soundbite of song, "Stay the Same")

Ms. TRIANA: (Singing) ...why we always play this game. Stay the same. Stay the same.

RAZ: My guests were singer Andreya Triana and the British composer and DJ Simon Green. He's also known as Bonobo. His latest album is called "Black Sands." And her debut album, just out this fall, is called "Lost Where I Belong." You can see a live performance by the group at nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Stay the Same")

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