Jules Buckley

Jules Buckley


Conductor, arranger, curator and composer, Jules Buckley is a unique and rare breed of artist. Not yet forty, he has collaborated with some of music’s most important and credible names, trailblazing his way through a staggering discography of almost 70 albums - more than most artists achieve in a lifetime.   Through his mastery of non-classical orchestral music, he has pushed the boundaries of almost all musical genres by placing them in an orchestral context, earning himself a reputation as a pioneering genre alchemist and agitator of musical convention.

Jules Buckley leads two of the world’s most in-demand and high profile orchestras. He is the cofounder of the Heritage Orchestra, a chamber ensemble dedicated to performing new music with a daring approach to crossing and linking musical genres, and Chief Conductor of Holland’s Metropole Orkest with whom he joined in 2008.  At the helm of these two orchestras, Buckley’s career has seen a string of successive highlights and remarkable achievements that see no sign of abating.

In 2018 Jules Buckley presents his 14th BBC Prom.  For the past 8 years he has taken both orchestras to London’s Royal Albert Hall to present some of the BBC’s most highly acclaimed, ground-breaking events.  Buckley’s 2015 ‘Ibiza Prom’ in collaboration with BBC Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong, saw the Heritage Orchestra blow away a generation of dance music fans with a night of seminal dance music classics, a show that has gone on to tour festivals and arenas across the UK, Europe, Australia and even the Hollywood Bowl.  That same year, a partnership with BBC Radio 1Xtra saw Buckley and his Metropole Orkest celebrate the UK’s thriving urban music scene working alongside some of the hottest grime acts, Wretch 32, Stormzy and Krept & Konan.  The following year he led the orchestra in a stunning tribute to his idol, music giant, Quincy Jones, which saw the legend himself perform his hits to Buckley’s brand new arrangements.   Of that prom, Buckley said, “It meant a lot to me to work with Quincy, to be respected enough and knowing that he trusted me to put together the show. A huge honour.”   Other BBC Prom highlights include 2017’s ‘The Songs of Scott Walker’ featuring Jarvis Cocker, John Grant and Richard Hawley plus ‘Beneath the Underdog’ a tribute to Charles Mingus featuring some of the biggest names in jazz.  He has also conducted the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for a prom featuring hip Californian saxophonist Kamasi Washington.

Buckley’s latest BBC Proms, 2018’s New York: Sound Of A City’ and ‘Jacob Collier and Friends’ underscores just what a musical revolutionist he is.  Once again he has assembled a stellar line-up of artists that see a collision of genres from jazz, disco, soul and gospel to electronica, global, punk and the avant garde.  The former, with the Heritage Orchestra sees Buckley perform with selfdescribed pagan gospel maverick, serpentwithfeet, singer songwriter Sharon von Etten he inimitable Hercules And Love Affair while the latter, with the Metropole Orkest, sees him collaborate with the ‘one man musical phenomenon’ and Quincy Jones  protégé, Jacob Collier.

Aside from the BBC Proms, other live projects with the Heritage Orchestra include, to name a few, ‘Live_Transmission’, a Joy Division remix project at the Sydney‘s Opera House, ‘Moroder Reworked’, an epic electro-orchestral tribute to the 'godfather of EDM', and three Meltdown Festivals curated by Massive Attack, David Byrne and James Lavelle which saw him collaborate with drum and bass icon, Goldie.  With the Metropole Orkest, Buckley’s partnered with German deep house veteran Henrik Schwarz for the Amsterdam Dance Event.  As a guest conductor and arranger, Jules has worked closely with, amongst others, ensembles such as The Helsinki Philharmonic, The BBC Symphony Orchestra and The WDR Funkhausorchester.

Throughout his career, Jules Buckley has earned the respect of an incredibly diverse range of music makers that have led to a prodigious number of collaborations both in the studio as well as on the stage.  He has appeared on recordings as conductor, arranger or producer on a wealth of albums from Arctic Monkeys, Basement Jaxx, Massive Attack, Laura Mvula, Snarky Puppy, Jose James, Henrik Schwarz, Laura Marling, Anna Calvi, Patrick Watson, Tori Amos, Emeli Sandé, Caro Emerald, to  DJ Yoda with Gabriel Prokofiev , Tim Minchin, Markus Stockhausen, Michael Kiwanuka, Professor Green, Cinematic Orchestra and more, steering many of them to highlights in their own careers.  He orchestrated and conducted the score (composed by Patrick Watson) for the movie ‘The 9th Life Of Louis Drax’ and received a Grammy for his work with American jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy on their album ‘Sylva’ plus two Latin Grammy nominations, while his spin-off albums, ‘Classic House’ and ‘Ibiza Classics’ have received major label releases reaching No.1 in the UK album charts and UK Dance Music charts respectively.

Jules Buckley grew up in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire listening to his dad’s ‘kick ass‘ record collection, “The music was always on“ says Jules.  Having picked up the trumpet aged 9, Jules displayed rare talents for his age, not just in playing his instrument but in writing and composing. “I knew when I picked up the trumpet that I would do music, it was like a lightning bolt, a massive emotional connection“.

Throughout his teenage years, Jules explored writing and playing in large ensembles and eventually headed to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music. It was there that Jules took a new path specialising in composition, picked up the conductor’s baton professionally and find his true calling.

After graduating in 2004, Buckley, with his artistic producer friend Chris Wheeler, founded The Heritage Orchestra, a 45-60 piece non-classical orchestra, unique in its use of sound, visuals and electronics. It would go on to rock out arenas, mess with other people’s music and keeps orchestral tradition in the cellar!  “As a renegade ensemble, we wanted to smash the stupid formalities of the concert hall. We wanted to take beats and basslines by a non-classical orchestra into the club.”

The first Heritage Orchestra gig at Cargo, Shoreditch later in 2004 was a huge success, and the first of other orchestral club projects. It was there that they caught the eye and ear of Radio 1’s Gilles Peterson, as Jules fondly recalls “Without Gilles, we wouldn’t be where we are now”.  Peterson invited them to play a Radio 1 Maida Vale session in early 2005, and that same summer booked them to play the Montreux Jazz Festival. “At the time, we couldn’t afford the flights and hotel, so we took a vote and drove 20 hours there, and 20 hours back in a bus”. The following year, The Heritage Orchestra signed to Peterson’s Brownswood label and released their debut album.  In 2010, Jules and The Heritage Orchestra made their BBC Proms debut with Jamie Cullum, returning each year since to present a string of high profile performances with some of the world’s biggest names across many musical genres.

Buckley’s history with the Metropole Orkest began in 2008, when he became principal guest conductor, becoming its chief conductor in 2013 at the age of just 33. With Jules at the helm, they too would find critical acclaim with a series of BBC Prom performances and recording dates with international acts.  The collaboration with Snarky Puppy and his resulting Grammy win was a career highlight for Buckley, “We convinced ourselves we didn’t have a chance of winning, but going up there to collect the Grammy was unreal, I felt like a kid again”.

Quite simply, by working creatively with artists and DJs, skilfully crossing genres and adding orchestral context, Buckley is redefining the rulebook of orchestral music and the role of a conductor.   “It doesn’t matter if genres seemingly clash, if the concept is strong, you can make anything happen. A great remixer can take any track and make something fresh out of it, this is my approach to orchestral work. I think long and hard to make it really connect and resonate with audiences.”

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