- Words Matilda Carnall
Following their debut single, “Levels” London jazz collective oreglo talk forever musical influences, defining their identity, and what’s next.
Linus, C-sé, Nico, and Teigan are the four members of London’s latest exciting jazz offering oreglo. Having met through the city’s youth organisations ‘Tomorrow’s Warriors’ and ‘Kinetika Bloco’, the outfit bonded over a shared love for the fusion of traditional genres. Jazz, rock, and reggae mix in the musical melting pot that is oreglo’s output. Melding influences, their backgrounds, and genre, the quartet are forming a sound different to anything you’ve heard before.
They’ve found a fanbase on TikTok, carving out their own space amongst the ever-popular bedroom pop, R&B and grime that consumes the app. Sharing new music as well as candid BTS videos, they’ve managed to rack up over 20k followers already.
Their arrival on the scene, having only formed last year, comes at a pivotal point for the rise of UK jazz. Its upsurge sees new jazz festivals popping up, more and more young people enrolling in courses (such as Tomorrow’s Warriors), and an increasingly diverse crowd showing at events and jazz bars. oreglo’s early ascent shares similarities with the upward trajectory of London quintet Ezra Collective, who are today catching both public and media attention worldwide.
In the infancy of their burgeoning career as a collective, we caught up with oreglo to talk forever musical influences, defining their identity, and what’s next.
Could we kick off with a little bit of backstory? How did oreglo come to be?
It was a bit of a mismatch of ways we met each other really. Linus and Nico met at school and have been playing together for years – they built their musical sound from playing together at school. Linus and Nico saw the raw talent of C-sé through the program Tomorrow’s Warriors. We asked him to come play with us and we clicked instantly. Nico knew Teigan through the London music scene and they met casually at a gig. Having a tuba in the band came from the fact the bassist we originally had couldn’t commit so it was a blessing in disguise that Teigan came along as he is truly the backbone of our sound, he brings something so fresh.
Why do you think it’s important that organisations like Tomorrow’s Warriors exist for young creatives?
It is so essential that these organisations exist because not only are they responsible for creating great bands and artists, but they are the people nurturing and championing young musical talent, giving people like us a platform to really reach our creative potential and get ourselves out there. Without communities like Tomorrow’s Warriors and Kinetica Bloco, oreglo would not exist.
And you’re based in London, how do you think living in the capital has influenced your music?
Being from London is key to our sound. The diverse cultures we’ve been exposed to have really expanded our musical approach, and as a band, we really love all sorts of music, which is reflected heavily in our sound. We don’t see ourselves as one genre, more a melting pot of different sounds that we love and have grown up around in London. This really ranges from UK rap to rock to jazz and much more.
Continuing down that same line of influence, who are some of the musical inspirations you’d credit? Whether that’s direct inspiration or artists that you grew up with and have had some effect on your sound.
We all have our own, honestly. Linus loves Tame Impala, C-sé loves Kendrick Lamar, Nico loves Yussef Dayes and Teigan loves Theon Cross. We all love so much diverse music respectively. As a band though we really love the sounds of Makaya Mccraven, Kokoroko and Ezra Collective, they definitely inspire us with what they’re doing musically but also their showmanship. We played at Cross The Tracks Festival this year and we watched Ezra and we were not only blown away by their music, but what great performers they all are, it was something to really admire.
Your music unites jazz, rock, and reggae. What is it that makes these genres fuse together so well, whether attitude, sound, or something more complex?
While we respect and understand the characteristics of different genres, we also don’t feel restrained to stick to ‘rules’ of any kind, it just limits our creativity. For example, if our song has a reggae feel to it because of a chopping reggae guitar and a reggae drum pattern, it’s not really because we intended to write a reggae tune per se, but more because that sound is what was resonating with us in that moment. We also think that these three genres have a lot more in common than people realise and we want to create something that sounds nostalgic yet modern.
When you’re creating new music, how does that process play out?
The way we write new music it’s very raw and organic. While C-sé has a lot of compositional ideas for the band, we definitely create and polish a lot of our sound together through jamming it out in person. That way we can react to each other and also all have a creative say in how the song is written and what’s best for our instruments.
Even as a collective, it’s important to retain a sense of identity within a group. Talk us through how your dynamic works, and what four minds brings to the table.
Our dynamic is really great as a band, there’s no leader, we all see ourselves as equals and respect everyone’s creative input. We all have our individual tastes, playing styles and we have so many ideas! But we’re definitely always aware to not dampen each of our personal identities which is heard through their playing style. We want all of our strengths to shine through!
And, looking at identity in a broader sense, what is oreglo’s identity? What’s the driving force behind the group?
Honestly, I think that is something that will continue to come together organically as we grow together as a band and we’re ok with that. As cheesy as it sounds, the driving force in oreglo is our passion for music, we all seriously just do it for our love for music. We hope that when people listen to us or come to our shows that they feel positive and uplifted after.
You recently performed with Ezra Collective, who also rose out of Tomorrow’s Warriors. Looking forwards, is there anyone else you’d love to perform alongside, or work with?
A lot of people! We definitely would love to experiment with some up and coming UK rap stuff with artists like Sainte, Ayrtn, Knucks, Louis Culture but also artists like Amie Blu, Dexter and Greentea Peng.
On performing live, what do you want audiences to take away from your sets? How do you want fans to feel, or react, when they hear your music live in person?
Our main aim is for them to understand our music, see the passion we put into it and hopefully understand our love for music through the sounds we create. We also really want them to have the best time possible, dance, sing and all of that, it really creates a connection like no other.
The past few years have seen jazz experience a revival of sorts, breaking out into a more diverse, younger crowd. How do you want to see the jazz scene, or the music scene on a more general level, change in the future?
I think, the appeal of jazz encouraging the breaking down of boundaries and its inclination to freedom and expression has seeped into all forms of popular music today. As the scene changes radically, I hope that the scene continues to progress, but I also hope that the culture is preserved and respected, especially as an emblem of Blackness.
And, following the release of “Levels” back in April, what can fans look forward to for the rest of 2023? Is there anything in the works for oreglo?
We’ve got lots of exciting new things in the works; we are currently getting ready for our upcoming summer shows plus writing and recording for our first EP which comes out this year. Keep an eye out for some exciting show announcements later on this year as well!