Young Colossus is a stunning new art and music collaboration project masterminded by Orlando Weeks of The Maccabees. The project is a 6 song soundtrack accompanied by a 24 page illustrated book detailing a story between a gentle appearing giant and a girl, through different adventures in a dreamy organic appearing environment. The soundtrack, written by Orlando Weeks, produced by Nic Nell and illustrated by Rob Hunter, also features additional vocals from Alessi Laurent-Marke of ‘Alessi’s Ark’.
We were lucky enough to get our hands on 1 of only 1500 copies of Young Colussus, and wanted to find out more about the origins and ideas behind the project.
Where did Young Colossus begin, What was the idea behind the project?
Nic Nell: Young Colossus started as a bunch of rough Garageband demos that Orlando recorded whilst on tour in Europe. We went away a couple of Christmases ago and pretty much got snowed in whilst trying to wrestle them into a record. The idea was to try and make something very atmospheric and fantastical and at the same time something rooted in the natural world. I think Orlando was watching a lot of natural history films on that tour. The plan was always to have a visual element. The story itself went through so many different iterations that I just stayed out of it and let Orlando get on with it before we ended up with the six tracks and the final version.
The individual tracks of Young Colusus match so well alongside the illustrated chapters of the story in the book. From the unassuming innocence of ‘Franky’, which sits beside images of a gentle giant in a dreamy looking world, to the more intense tracks such as ‘Monsters Dance’ where the illustrations have changed into a much more intense pace. Was the collaboration between Orlando and Rob something that flowed naturally?
Orlando came across Rob’s book The New Ghost and from that was confident that Rob would be able to translate the right kind of feel into the YC illustrations. Orlando’s storyboarding was the starting point and Rob fleshed it out from there. I think all three of us have found the collaboration easy and enjoyable. For Rob I think it was nice to have such an open and unique brief and for Orlando and me it was just a joy to see every image that Rob would send through. There were of course odd changes here and there but on the whole, as collaborations go, it was pretty much pain free. I think Rob would agree.
Can you tell us a little about the story itself?
Young Colossus is the story of a child character who gets left alone in the woods for a night as a kind of right of passage. It’s an adventure story with monsters, beautiful landscapes, bush craft, hunting, dancing and masks.
Some tracks feature the mesmerising vocals of Alessi Laurent-Marke of ‘Alessi’s Ark’. Her distinctive vocals add a great depth to the already dreamy tracks, much like the illustration. Where did this involvement come from?
We had the record pretty much finished without Alessi on it for a while and we were unsure of what we were going to do with it – whether it was going to end up being a book or a soundtrack to a film. It sort of felt like it was missing something and we were unsure how Orlando’s pitched up vocals were going to go down. At one point we were thinking of having an actual kid sing on the record but then Orlando’s old tour manager mentioned Alessi and we had a listen and just fell in love with her voice. We sent her the record as it was and she was up for giving it a try. She came down without having met either of us before (or having seen a copy of the lyrics) and tracked it all in a couple of afternoons. As with the illustrations it was wonderful chance that the two fitted so happily.
Is Young Colossus something that you plan on performing live?