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q&a: the picture box orchestra

Featuring musicians from countries including Pakistan, Iran, Italy and Belgium, and a rotating live line-up that includes a beatboxer and tabla player alongside the more conventional instruments, the magic of The Picture Box Orchestra‘s sound is difficult to convey using mere words.

Alies Sluiter had a chat to Lip ahead of their appearance at WOMADelaide, taking place March 9-12 in Adelaide’s Botanic Park.

Describe your sound in five words or less.
Eclectic, melodic and genre defying.

How are you feeling about your upcoming appearance at Womadelaide?
Excited and humbled that I will be performing in the same line up as such an awe inspiring group of musicians.

You have a very impressive list of live performers who accompany you on stage! Who will be joining you at Womad?
Cellist Tim Blake, tabla player Jay Dabgar and a couple of special guests.

Was there a particular moment or artist that made you want to pursue music when you were growing up? Who were your early influences?
Funnily enough my Dad took me to the very first WOMADelaide in ‘92 where I saw Nusrat Ali Fateh Ali Khan. I also loved Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli and over the years I have listened a lot to Randy Newman, Nina Simone, Fritz Kreisler, Nick Drake and Dave Holland.

Can you tell us a little about how you came to play music with such an array of people?
After learning classical repertoire as a kid, I went on to study jazz and improvisation at Uni. One of the lecturers asked me to join his Shakti tribute band which was an Indian and classical fusion, I also got a gig playing with a Mariachi band, a celtic rock outfit. I guess it went from there…

What are your other interests/passions?
Films, books and travel.

Who do you most admire?
Aung San Suu Kyi

What do you love most about performing?
The energy of a group of musicians playing together.

Where has been your favourite place to tour?
Oooh, that’s too hard! Japan, Argentina, Mexico and Turkey were all great in very different ways.

A song I wish I wrote/played is…
‘Baltimore’ by Randy Newman (the Nina Simone version from the album of the same name).

I couldn’t live without
Seasons.

The best advice I ever received was…
If you don’t succeed the first time, try again.

The Picture Box Orchestra will be appearing on WOMADelaide’s Zoo Stage on Friday 9 March at 8.15pm.

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