When Orchestras and Rock Collide
Folk-rocker Kris Orlowski and composer-violinist Andrew Joslyn celebrate the release of their new EP—with the help of a 17-piece orchestra.
Singer-songwriter Kris Orlowski and composer-violinist Andrew Joslyn have carved out a niche in the Northwest, but lately their names are gaining recognition around the country. The release of their 2011 debut album, Kris Orlowski and the Passenger String Quartet at the Fremont Abbey, even got Starbucks’ attention—the coffee giant added it to its playlist last year. Lucky for us, they’ve come together again (this time with a 17-piece orchestra) to debut their new orchestral rock EP, The Pieces We Are, on October 13 at the Triple Door.
The line between pop genres blurs as Orlowski and Joslyn combine classical symphonic arrangements with a mix of contemporary folk-rock vocals. “The project is a more ambitious vision for us than in the past,” Joslyn said. “We’re taking a full orchestra, the writing is much more mature, and, on this album, it’s more of a collaboration than anything we’ve done before.”
In truth, The Pieces We Are is a multidisciplinary project involving local artists, photographers, and filmmakers, handpicked to create companion pieces for each track on the album. Orlowski and Joslyn gave the artists freedom to derive their own inspiration from the music—the result is a decidedly Pacific Northwest aesthetic. Photographs highlight the juxtaposition of nature and lyrics. For "I Will Go," Tyler Kalberg submits a vivid Polaroid picture of the Tacoma Narrows near Point Defiance Park, where the "towering evergreens" and "rain-splattered water" complement "lush string arrangements," he notes. On "All My People Go," Lonnie Webb's shot overlooking a vast expanse of treetops in Eastern Washington represents "unknown adventure and infinite opportunity that the lyric illuminates."
Inspired by the music of Sufjan Stevens and Cinematic Orchestra, the EP encompasses this recurring theme of collaboration, building on the distinctiveness of each artist involved as if the album was a puzzle. Each song is unique in itself; without the diversity of the artists, the puzzle is incomplete.
“It’s a community push with the arts. We want to give a shoutout to people who are talented,” Orlowski said. “In the end, this is the pieces we are.”
Kris Orlowski and Andrew Joslyn
Oct 13 at 7 & 10, The Triple Door, $20–$25