The title of this album is one of the major lessons we can all learn from street performance – strangers do not exist. We may walk by people and think scary thoughts, avoid eye contact and attempt to keep personal space. But put a great performer in front of them, and suddenly we smile at each other, dance together, and realise we’re not so strange.
What better way to celebrate this togetherness than with the music of some of the best musicians on the planet? That’s what we put together for our third album, Strangers Don’t Exist, with songs from Daniel Waples, Mike Dawes, Jack Shepherd, Mimi Gilbert and MORF.
Track 1: Bello Track 2: Sonsonet
Daniel Waples singlehandedly (for a while, anyway) popularised the hang drum worldwide, with viral videos (like the one above) that have racked up a combined 20 million views. In case you don’t know it, take a listen to the video above. It sounds like exactly the kind of thing you’d want in the chill-out room at a club, or after a hard day’s work; rhythmical, melodic, soothing, even mystical.
Daniel Waples is truly a pioneer of the newly invented handpan instrument and is arguably the most recognized player in his field. He travels globally to share his passion and introduce his music to new listeners. His skills on the handpan are self-taught, and many aspiring players often sight his technique and philosophy of composition as an inspiration.
Mike Dawes is hailed as one of the world’s finest and most creative modern fingerstyle guitar performers. His acclaimed solo music has gained over 15 million hits online, and since the release of his debut album in 2013 he has toured almost every continent on the planet with an average of 150 concerts per year.
Mike needs to be seen live to be believed. His ability to create the most unusual tones and textures simultaneously from a single acoustic guitar leaves fellow musicians stunned. Bass, melody, harmony and percussion all seamlessly produced using his signature technical yet intrinsically musical guitar technique.
His show is not just for guitar fans however, his entertaining and humorous rapport transcends the traditional guitar concert. Extraordinary virtuosity meets Monty Python via a one-man rock show. We’re sure his confidence to create these shows stems from his history busking on the streets of Guilford and Bath.
I feel embarrassed for writing this, but Jack Shepherd may be the most handsome man I’ve filmed. He’s also annoyingly casual and down-to-earth in the way you wish good looking people weren’t (it makes hating them easier if they’re aloof).
Oh, yeah, and he plays great songs. Looping beatbox, guitar and singing, Jack’s a “one man band” with a modern twist. In his own words, perhaps his mantra, Jack’s philosophy is “Live music, sounds that smooth, beats that move, tech that grooves.
Mimi Gilbert, raised in Ojai, California, is a singer-songwriter, whose music continues to grow a humble following around the world with songs that tell stories and with a voice that carries soul and understanding. Whether performing with a band or solo, Mimi creates layer upon layer of a raw, indie folk prevailing sound that simply burst with life, journey and experience.
We asked one of the founders of Feeling the Street (a global initiative to create bands from the highest rated street performers in the world) who her favourite musician was. Mimi Gilbert was the first busker she mentioned. And for good reason; Mim’s soft and stirring voice carries stories that connect hearts to music and people to people.
John O’Challis (a.k.a. MORF) is one of the most talented guitarists we’ve ever seen. He’s also one of our audience’s favourite performers – every time we’ve done a call-out for suggestions, his name has come up.
John quit his job back in November 2014, as a regional representative for a large IT firm in Sydney, and became a full time busker. Since then, he’s been all over the world, busking and performing for booked shows in countries he’d never dreamed of visiting.
Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games – he got his head kicked in while busking in London last year, something he talked to us about in this heartwarming interview. Thankfully, it didn’t put him off busking, and he’s still out there making a living with his phenomenal talent.