Folkatron is a new Upcycled Sounds project which brings young folk and electronic musicians together for a week to create experimental productions of traditional folk music from scratch.

The 2017 Folkatron EP,  ‘Mais c’est quoi maman?’

The 2018 Folkatron EP,  ‘Silo’

Folkatron 2017

Recorded in Paris in 2017. 10 musicians from different countries, who’d never played together before, spent 6 days choosing, arranging, performing and recording 4 folkatronica tracks. Each day would start with a musical warm up game and end with a late night jam, with many hours of intense arranging and production sessions in between. Folkatron is all about experimental production, so there was lots of time spent trying new production techniques and going on sample collecting expeditions in the outskirts of Paris. Samples on the lead single alone include shop tills, a coffee plunger, car doors, squeaky trolleys, cars going under a bridge, a chorus of Bodhrán beaters on a Parisian wall and a child asking her mother ‘mais c’est quoi maman? [but what is it mama?]’, which became the EP title.


Eleno Kerko

Arranged by:

Dan Abrahams – guitar and double bass player from Sheffield now living in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Lauren Spiceley – fiddle, piano and accordion player based in Oxford, England.

Nils Peschanski – pianist and electronic musician, based in Paris, France.

An instrumental arrangement of a traditional Macedonian love song from parent to daughter. Dan learned the song while accompanying Croatian singer, Erik Balija, for a concert in beautiful Istria, on the coast of Croatia.

Dansen Ungdom

Arranged by:

Rémi Allain. Double bassist and guitarist from Normandie, France.

Martha Wiltshire. Cellist and pianist based in Oxford, England.

Nils Peschanski – pianist and electronic musician, based in Paris, France.

Traditional polska song from Småland, Sweden about having a dance and making the most of your youth before it’s over. Learnt by Remi from Peter Rousu, a Swedish guitarist, during Ethno England 2017.

Hares on a Mountain / Squealer

Arranged by:

Joe Woods. Guitarist from Suffolk, UK.

Hannah Jacobs. Piano and accordion player from Suffolk, UK.

Hares on the Mountain is a traditional English folk song imagining how people would flirt if they were turned into various plants and creatures. Joe’s version is a combination of half-remembered performances by Shirley Collins and Lucy Farrell. Squealer is a Irish jig, composed by Jack Ó hAonghusa. It was originally called ‘Scaoileadh’, but the non-Irish Gaelic speakers misheard it. Jack decided it was much easier to spell and related to the inescapable urge to scream during a good tune and so it stuck. The arrangement features Maloya rhythms from La Réunion.

Martin Wynne’s No. 2 / Teampall An Ghleanntáin

Arranged by:

Philippe Boudot, drummer and percussionist from Normandie, France.

Nicholas O’Brien, Italian-Irish sound engineer and guitarist, based in Oxford.

Jack Ó hAonghusa – whistle, flute and Bodhrán player from Ballymore, Ireland.

Arrangement of an Irish reel written by Martin Wynne, a celebrated County Sligo fiddler, and a traditional Irish tune, popular in the south of Ireland and named after a village in West County Limerick. The arrangement features Nigerian afrobeat rhythms.

Recorded and mixed by Nicholas O’Brien, of Upcycled Sounds. Produced by Nicholas O’Brien and Hannah Jacobs, of Upcycled Sounds.

Folkatron 2018

“Creative, instructive, fun, experimental, and open”. Participant

The 2018 edition took place from June 15th – 24th at Shaken Oak Studios and Tandem Festival, near Witney, Oxfordshire. It ran alongside the Ethno England music camp, under expert guidance from sound engineer and electronic production leaders. Participants recorded folk musicians from around the world, and then combined the recordings with sound collecting, sampling, electronic and studio techniques. The result – an album of awesome genre-bending folktronica tracks! We had a great time experimenting with new production techniques, recording locations and gear. We showcased our work at Tandem Festival with a DJ set and a live electronics collaboration with Ethno England. Some of the tracks are now out on Soundcloud and Bandcamp!

All sounds on the album were recorded and collected by our Folkatron participants, examples of which include: a reverberating silo, trampolines, chains, a broken piano, water, kitchen sounds, the inside of a village church, bicycles and a stick in the wind. Many instrumental and vocal samples were taken from performances by folk musicians participating in the Ethno England camp.

Folkatron participant Frederikke described part of her creative process when creating her track, “Song from Ammar”:
“I tried to think about the sequence in the track – how I could make it an organic process. I used the singing from Ammar, and furthermore I used sounds from beer bottle capsules, water drops, a choir in a silo, hits on a gas tank, and a few other things, and then I tried to manipulate them in relation to their function in the track.” (Listen to “Song from Ammar” here).