In Conversation: Vanbur

Having met six years ago working in adjacent studios, London based composers and multi-instrumentalists Jessica Jones and Tim Morrish have recently started recording together as Vanbur. Known for their scoring work in TV and film, the duo’s venture down a different musical avenue has seen them produce cinematic and dreamy synth pop tracks featuring beautiful and ethereal vocals courtesy of Jones. We caught up with the pair last week to see how things have been going since the release of their debut EP ‘Human’ on January 17th.

As scoring composers, you have an amazing list of film and TV credits between you which includes the BAFTA nominated film Pili, BBC2’s upcoming series Scandal and Netflix’s The Alienist, as well as scoring campaigns for the likes of Levi’s and Bose. What made you decide to branch out and develop Vanbur?

It was actually through our film and TV work that we first started exploring using Jess’ vocals, and as time went on there were a few occasions where we were asked to write songs together for specific projects. Writing this music was an exciting avenue for us, and a path we hadn’t explored fully, so Vanbur was created as an opportunity for us to start discovering our voices outside of our scoring work.

You’re both multi-instrumentalists, what do you play?

We’re both classically trained. Jess plays violin and piano and Tim plays percussion and trumpet.

‘Human’ was sparked by experimenting around a vocal riff, is this how you’d usually go about developing a track?

Each track on the EP seems to have grown in a different way. Sometimes this has started with lyrics, or with a particular sound or chord progression that has grabbed us. Jess will often experiment with vocal sounds and a song grows out of that, like in ‘Human’. 

What other themes are explored in the EP?

The themes of conflict and resolution are really present throughout every song. ‘Last Look’ is about the moments of regret after conflict and ‘Through the Dark’ focuses on overcoming adversity. These themes seemed to arrive quite naturally when we were writing.

Where was the EP written and recorded? Do you have any favourite places to visit when you write?

We wrote and recorded the whole EP at our studio in Greenwich, London. This is where we also do our scoring work and we’re lucky enough to have really talented musicians who live locally that come in to record strings for us (like on ‘Through the Dark’ and ‘In Cold Light’). We loved finishing the EP off working with Adam Miller (The Mix Shop) on the mixes for a few days and Matt Colton (Metropolis Studios) on the mastering.

You’ve spoken before about the influence the London climate protests have had on your work, why do you think there seems to be such a lack of material in the music industry on climate change and/or climate related issues?

The climate emergency is such a huge issue for our future. It can almost feel overwhelming to try to express the different emotions that come with it. It’s great to see in the last few years that as our collective awareness has grown, the subject has been reflected more in art and music. There are loads of examples out there like Aurora’s song ‘Seed’ and Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Glacier Melt Series’.

Does living in amongst the hustle and bustle of a busy city like London help to provide you with a constant source of inspiration?

Yes! We love living in London, there’s so much incredible music, film, TV and art being made here. As freelancers especially it’s really great because there’s so many other artists and creatives around.

What’s the plan for the rest of the year?

More music, with the hope of an album by next year!

If you’d like to find out more about Vanbur, you can follow them via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Their EP ‘Human’ is now available on Spotify.

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Image courtesy of Higher Plain Music.