Red Bull constantly pushes the envelope with everything the brand has its hands in. Music is no different in that regard, and this year Red Bull teamed up with legendary drum & bass duo Camo & Krooked to create an entirely new concert experience.
Pairing drum & bass with a live orchestra, Camo & Krooked enlisted world-renowned composer and conductor Christian Kolonovits and the Max Steiner Orchestra to rework their music into a live symphonic performance in the duo's hometown of Vienna, Austria. Needless to say, the performance was stunning.
Camo & Krooked took some time to chat with EDM.com about the experience and the work leading up to the instantly iconic performance.
EDM.com: First and foremost, what was the inspiration behind turning Camo & Krooked tunes into an entire symphony?
Camo & Krooked: The idea to turn our work into a symphony originally came from a friend of ours, Felix Günther, who used to work for Red Bull, about 6 years ago. Unfortunately, Felix passed away way too early—RIP Felix—and we weren’t considering this idea anymore since everything that comes with writing a symphony sounded quite megalomaniac! In late 2018 Red Bull called us and asked if we would still be up for doing an orchestra show, as they would have the perfect arranger and conductor for it – Christian Kolonovits.
We were quite unsure in the beginning because it is such a huge task, and so many things could go wrong. But the more we went into the thought process, the more motivation it gave us. So, we really committed ourselves to write a full 75-minute piece that is thought out like a classic symphony with all it’s energetic moments and adagios, and everything in between.
EDM.com: We see some of the creative process with Christian Kolonovits in the documentary. Can you give us a more in-depth description of your experience working with such an iconic composer and conductor?
Camo & Krooked: It was quite difficult for all three of us in the beginning to figure out the best possible workflow for everyone involved. Thankfully, we already had an idea of how the track list would look like before we tackled the conversion process, since our “Mosaik” live show that we toured with around our last album release relied heavily on the musical journey through the past until presence of Camo & Krooked. We spent a lot of time on reproducing some tracks from scratch and writing transitions and interludes, so the show would feel like a real symphonic piece.
After 2-3 tracks into the process we figured it would be best to first reduce the tracks on our side to their core and rewrite the essential sounds of each track with orchestra libraries, replacing synth sounds with orchestral sounds. Since a lot of synth sounds we use in our production are often emulations of classic instruments, it was not too difficult to figure out how we should translate these sounds.
After that process we sent the fundamental and orchestral parts we wrote to Christian, so he knew where we wanted to take the tracks and he could fine-tune and rewrite sections whilst respecting the essence of the originals. It was important for us to give him as much freedom as possible though. On some tracks we let him do whatever we wanted with it, for example “Watch it Burn” and “Kallisto." Since Christian was only writing down his ideas on a note sheet and we could not hear what he was doing! But we had full trust in him, he is a real virtuoso in his realm and understands all kinds of music. The further we got into the writing process, the closer we became as friends as well. Christian is one of the humblest people in the music industry.
EDM.com: What was the biggest challenge you faced with reinterpreting your music for a symphonic performance?
Camo & Krooked: The biggest challenge was to find a perfect symbiosis between electronic and orchestral sounds. Especially on D&B tempo, everything can sound quite overwhelming really quick. We spent a lot of time on reducing tracks to make space for the orchestra instruments, without losing the energy of the originals. Some tracks allowed to have no drums at all, some needed completely new drum kits and synth sounds. It was a lot of trial and error. But we really wanted the show to be a story-telling interaction between the synthetic and the organic realm. Not an orchestra mimicking electronic tracks.
EDM.com: Red Bull is well known for pushing the envelope in everything they're involved with. How big was Red Bull's impact on creating this documentary and the symphony?
Camo & Krooked: This project was initiated by Red Bull and we feel very lucky to be a part of it, as it definitely was the highlight of our career. The creative part was completely on our and Christian Kolonovits side, but Red Bull made sure that the look and feel of this event is high class and documented in every detail. We are very glad about that as we still have shivers reliving these moments.
EDM.com: The audience's reactions to the symphony are palpable in the film. It was quite entertaining to watch a drum & bass crowd dancing to orchestral music. How did the crowd's energy impact you while you were performing, and how was it different from a typical crowd response to a Camo & Krooked performance?
Camo & Krooked: Playing in front of a (at least in the beginning) seated crowd was something new for us, but as soon as the first tune dropped everyone was cheering and we knew we are onto a very special evening. In the pauses between the section of the symphony the cheering was so loud that we even broke the loudness record of the concert house with 115 db crowd noise!
Half an hour into the show people started to move a bit in their seats and even stand up and dance. By the last few tracks everyone was dancing and the Konzerthaus turned into a full-blown rave. It was beautiful to see the reactions of the musicians of the Max Steiner Orchestra too, it looked like this was a new experience for them as well, and they loved it!
EDM.com: Are there any plans to work with Maestro Kolonovits on new original music or more orchestral performances?
Camo & Krooked: We have plans to take this special show on tour, starting with Austria and then hopefully spreading to other capital cities in Europe. We would love to write some original tracks with Christian too, knowing his expertise in arranging and songwriting we think he could take our sound into a completely new and interesting direction. When the time is right, who knows!
EDM.com: What is your favorite orchestral rendition from the performance and the album?
Camo & Krooked: It is hard to pick one favorite moment because every single one has its place in our hearts. But "Witchdoctor" is probably up there because of its surprising moment of the whole [Max Steiner] Orchestra clapping in unison, which they have never done before and took the longest time to rehearse!
EDM.com: What's next for Camo & Krooked?
Camo & Krooked: We now continue to work on new music, have a few collaborations already lined up and looking forward to finally be able to hit the road again as soon as possible!
The world of electronic music, and now symphonic music, stands in unison, eager to hear those new Camo & Krooked sounds, and hopefully catch a Red Bull Symphonic performance soon.
Check out Camo & Krooked's Red Bull Symphonic performance and behind the scenes with Christian Kolonovits and The Max Steiner Orchestra here.