Emiliana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra Announce “Racing The Storm”

Following their recent standalone single “Right Here”, today Emiliana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra announce the release of their new album Racing The Storm, out 17th March via Bella Union and available to preorder here. To accompany the announcement Emiliana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra have shared a beautifully-shot black and white video for “Mikos”, the album’s atmospheric opening track. Commenting on the song Emiliana says: “When I am triggered by nice music, I see a movie happening in my mind. When writing that song I saw a girl in a school uniform standing at the edge of  a harbour looking into a turquoise sea at the body of a girl. She hears the girl’s mother behind her looking for her at the market. She turns to look and then walks away not saying a word about it.” 

Picture this: a big storm is brewing overhead. You’re careening through the backroads of rural Iceland, trying desperately to catch your flight out of Reykjavik as the skies darken behind you. You’ve just had one of the best songwriting sessions of your life, in a farmhouse deep in the Icelandic countryside, but none of that matters now. You’ve found yourself in a race against time to get all your work to the next studio and continue working on your album—one that just might turn out to be one of the most important of your entire career.

This exact scenario is what befell Belgian duo The Colorist Orchestra and Icelandic-Italian singer-songwriter Emiliana Torrini during one of the many recording sessions for their new collaborative album—and the experience was so emblematic of the entire awe-inspiring, chaotic, life-affirming process, that they ended up naming the record Racing the Storm.

The Colorist Orchestra knows a thing or two about controlled chaos. Since their inception in 2013, close friends and multi-instrumentalists Aarich Jespers and Kobe Proesmans have taken on the task of reinterpreting other artists’ discographies with their unique blend of pop, electronic and world music. In 2015, they entered into a collaboration with Emiliana, who at that time was already well into her own illustrious career, having released six studio albums, as well as the international hit “Jungle Drum”.

“When Kobe and Aarich contacted me, I was really in this ‘anything goes’ mindset,” explains Emiliana, “I was very honored without knowing much about what the agreement entailed. I just told them to choose the songs. Months after, I met them in Belgium, totally unprepared, and they all blew me away.” What was supposed to only be five concerts together turned into an album, 2018’s The Colorist Orchestra & Emiliana Torrini, in which some of her most famous songs are given a completely new identity, reworked with TCO’s intricate and harmonious arrangements.

Even with one album under their collective belts, Kobe, Aarich and Emiliana still felt like there was unfinished business—that they still had another story to tell. “In the beginning there was the intention to work together for three weeks and do five gigs,” says Kobe, “and then we kept on finding the result really nice. We did a live recording and then we promoted that album, and then at a certain moment we just said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have another excuse to play together?’ We felt like, ‘Why not try to write a new album?’”

Thus, the first germinations of Racing the Storm took hold. Kobe and Aarich began to lay down demos for Emiliana to lay down vocals to, but like the darkening Icelandic horizon, things were not as breezy as they could have been. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic took its toll on the entire world, and all three members had other projects in the works during the writing process.

“The whole period of writing this album was a constant search of how to keep this adventure going, with all the limitations of distance and time and not being able to be together,” explains Kobe of the record’s early days. “I thought that was the biggest challenge, to maintain the musically vibrant connection between the three of us. Because when Aarich and I work we are living very close to each other and we are in the studio together, we can talk—most of the creation happens when you have food and when you talk and you listen to a song and we missed that a lot with Emiliana in the beginning.”

It wasn’t all strife and struggle though, as anyone who listens to Racing the Storm’s melodious intricacies can attest. There’s an undeniable camaraderie to the music, the sound of three people who really enjoy each other’s company and creativity joining forces to explore the sum of their parts. “I think we share a lot of the same interests, not only music, but also movies and art and culture,” says Aarich and he and Kobe’s relationship to Emiliana. “It felt easy to do things together because our tastes in this project are very close to one another.”

Both Kobe and Aarich are quick to point out that, while Racing the Storm is very much the work of a collective, Emiliana has taken on the role of frontperson, and both her lyrics and vocal performance are inherent to the album’s sound. The first single from the album, “Right Here”, is a perfect example of Emiliana’s singular songwriting style, and how it melts perfectly into TCO’s orchestral arrangements. It’s the poppiest song on the record—Emiliana describes it as being “sung from a daydream whilst being poked repeatedly in the shoulder by the outside world.” The song trots along warmly with strings and marimbas interlocking into a joyous melody. Emiliana’s voice, while somewhat soft, commands the listener to drink in every single moment of reverie.

At the end of the day, what comes across the most with Racing the Storm is the strong bond between them. While coming from somewhat different backgrounds—Emiliana found chart-topping success while being classically trained in opera; Kobe was raised in the Belgian countryside before taking his world and classical schooling to Cuba to perfect his percussion skills’; Aarich is a tried-and-true autodidact drummer—it’s as if the three of them (along with mixer and producer Jo Fracken, who expertly directs Racing the Storm into the exhilarating album it is) have found a special common space where the rules of the outside world simply don’t apply. “There are no rules,” says Kobe, smiling. “Emiliana always says that this is a story that started way before we met each other, and that the push and pull between our different backgrounds and personalities is what makes this collaboration so special.”

Emiliana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra live dates:

Thursday 9th March 2023 – Liege – Reflektor

Friday 10th March 2023 – Kortrijk – De Kreun

Saturday 11th March 2023 – Brussels – Ancienne Belgique

Thursday 16th March 2023 – Dortmund – Konzerthaus

Friday 17th March 2023  – Hamburg – Elbphilarmonhie

Sunday 19th March 2023  – Frankfurt – Zoom

Monday 20th March 2023  – Berlin – RBB Sendesaal

Wednesday 22nd March 2023 – Schorndorf – Club Manufaktur

Thursday 23rd March 2023 – Munich – Freiheitshalle

Friday 24th March 2023 – Fribourg – Fri-SoN

Saturday 25th March 2023 – Maastricht – Muziekgieterij

Monday 27th March 20223 – Paris – Le Trabendo

Tuesday 28th March 2023 – Amsterdam – Paradiso

Wednesday 29th March 2023 – Antwerp – De Roma

Thursday 30th March 2023 – Ghent – Handelsbeurs

Friday 31st March 2023 – London – Union Chapel

Emiliana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra Sign To Bella Union

Bella Union are thrilled to announce the signing of Emiliana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra whose new album Racing the Storm is due out next year via the label. As a first taste of the LP, Emiliana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra have shared an uplifting video for beatific lead single “Right Here”. Additionally, an extensive UK /EU tour has been announced for March 2023 including a performance at the Union Chapel in London (dates below).

There’s something almost magical about a great collaboration. When two artists are able to synchronize on an infinitesimal level, where each note and breath and strum aligns to create a perfect whole. The Colorist Orchestra know how to do this — in fact, they’ve made it their speciality. Since 2013, the Belgian duo, comprised of multi-instrumentalists and long-time friends Aarich Jespers and Kobe Proesmans, have made a career out of reimagining the discographies of a wide array of artists, using their background in pop, electronic, and world music to transform the songs. Recently, they have reconnected with acclaimed Icelandic singer-songwriter Emilina Torrini, with whom they first collaborated in 2018 on the album The Colorist Orchestra & Emiliana Torrini. This time, however, their project exceeded even their own expectations. 

Next year Emiliana and The Colorist Orchestra will release Racing the Storm, a collaborative record that takes both artists to towering new heights. An album of all original material, it melds TCO’s classical chamber pop roots with the power and fragility of Emiliana’s understated songwriting. 

The album’s first single, “Right Here”, is also one of its most immediately ear-grabbing tracks, an atmospheric and arresting pop song that gives a delightful taste of what’s to come. Commentating on the track Emiliana says: “Lyrically, the song comes from a daydream space, a safe haven from the everyday craziness of the world — and ends in the silence and serenity of the night. A love song, it speaks about what it’s like to endure and then finally thrive in a long-term relationship.”

Of the song’s inception Kobe adds: “It’s funny that this song, which was one of the first demos on the work table, became the song that moved last from the work table to the mixing table. So many versions of this song have been made, even a collaboration with the Japanese KODO in a search for the right angle. Time and again it remained an inspiring search but when this version, very close to the original, finally saw the light of day, a kind of enlightenment fell over us. Sometimes you have to travel far to know what’s in front of you.”

Emiliana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra live dates:

Saturday 11th March 2023 – Brussels – Ancienne Belgique

Thursday 16th March 2023 – Dortmund – Konzerthaus

Friday 17th March 2023  – Hamburg – Elbphilarmonhie

Sunday 19th March 2023  – Frankfurt – Zoom

Monday 20th March 2023  – Berlin – RBB Sendesaal

Wednesday 22nd March 2023 – Schorndorf – Club Manufaktur

Thursday 23rd March 2023 – Munich – Freiheitshalle

Friday 24th March 2023 – Fribourg – Fri-SoN

Saturday 25th March 2023 – Maastricht – Muziekgieterij

Tuesday 28th March 2023 – Amsterdam – Paradiso

Wednesday 29th March 2023 – Antwerp – De Roma

Thursday 30th March 2023 – Ghent – Handelsbeurs

Friday 31st March 2023 – London – Union Chapel