William Orbit (born William Mark Wainwright; 15 December 1956) is an English musician, composer and record producer who has sold 200 million recordings worldwide of his own work, his production and songwriting work. He is a recipient of multiple Grammy Awards, Ivor Novello Awards and other music industry awards.
|Birth name||William Mark Wainwright|
|Also known as||William Orbit|
|Born||15 December 1956|
|Origin||Shoreditch, Hackney, London, England|
Orbit (Wainwright) was raised in Shoreditch, in East London. His parents were both schoolteachers; he was the older of two sons. Despite his parents' objections, he left school at the age of 16, and subsisted for a number of years in various low-paying jobs, while seeking an outlet for his creativity. Around this time, while rooming with a friend who was trying to start a recording studio, Orbit found his musical calling.
In 1980 Orbit teamed up with Laurie Mayer and Grant Gilbert to form the electronic/synth group Torch Song. They initially self-released recordings in an audio cassette series, generated from their home-built studio in a disused school in Notting Hill Gate, in London, alongside the Grand Union Canal. Neville Brody, the graphic designer, joined the band for a period. Orbit and Mayer were also visual artists and created a series of art magazines called The Ralph Hoover Guide in which he drew surrealist cartoons. The issues were sold at various London galleries and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in The Mall. Richard Law, who was the A&R for IRS Records, was a follower of their music and aesthetic, and took it to industry mogul Miles Copeland, who had discovered and managed the Police and the Bangles in 1981. When Copeland signed them to the label the deal enabled them to build their ideal studio. There they recorded two albums and four singles, the most successful being the dance chart hit "Prepare to Energize", which was featured in the film ‘Bachelor Party’. They also composed the soundtrack to the ice hockey movie ‘Youngblood’, starring Rob Lowe and Keanu Reeves, and recorded another song, written by colleague Rico Conning, "White Night" which was used in ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’.
This first incarnation of Guerilla Studios had a Trident 80B mixing desk and Otari MTR90 MKII 24 track (2 inch tape) multitrack housed in a back garden on the canals of Little Venice in Paddington, and they also ran it as a commercial enterprise.
Productions and remixes
Collaborations and productions included Prince, Madonna, Britney Spears, Pink, U2, Katie Melua, Ricky Martin, Beth Orton, Sarah McLachlan, Queen, The Joy Formidable, Robbie Williams, All Saints, Kraftwerk, and Sugababes. When working with Beck, the two of them wrote a song for Pink, "Feel Good Time," which Orbit then produced for the soundtrack for the 2000 film Charlie's Angels.
Orbit had created remixes for Madonna previously such as "Justify My Love" and "Erotica" but he didn't meet her personally until 1997. That summer and autumn they wrote together and produced her multi-Grammy/award-winning seventh album Ray of Light. The album took four months to record and it was the longest she ever spent recording an album. It was released on 22 February 1998.
In 2000, Orbit continued his songwriting for Madonna's 2000 album Music recorded at The Hit Factory in New York and also co-wrote and performed the song "Beautiful Stranger". The two joined up again for her 2012 album MDNA, co-writing and producing six of the tracks on the album. "Masterpiece" won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song in the Miramax movie "W.E.", at the 69th Golden Globe Awards.
Inspired and encouraged by Rob Dickins, his first commercial release in this genre was Pieces in a Modern Style. It was originally released in May 1995 on Orbit’s N-Gram Recordings label, and then again in 2000 by Warner Music in the UK and Europe, and on Maverick in the U.S. The album reached No 2 in the UK album charts. The first single release from the album was ‘Barber’s Adagio for Strings’, and a dance remix of the track by Dutch DJ Ferry Corsten was hugely successful. The single reached number 4 in the national singles chart. A follow up album, ′Pieces in a Modern Style 2′ came out in 2010, and was released as a two-disc set on the Decca label. He worked with German countertenor Andreas Scholl on an interpretation of Henry Purcell’s Dido’s Lament which was featured on the album.
In 2007 he took part in Alex Poots’ Manchester International Festival, and composed a symphonic work in nine movements ‘Orchestral Suite’ which was performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, augmented by additional harps, pianos and percussion, and with The Manchester Chorale, conducted by Alexander Shelley at Bridgewater Hall.
Live performance/media/DJ work
During the N'Gram period, he directed a showcase of the label at Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's Southbank. The acts included Caroline Lavelle, The Electric Chamber (which performed the Pieces album) Strange Cargo, and Torch Song. Orbit included a range of power tools and angle grinders as part of the musical ensemble.
In 2013 William worked with Britney Spears and Will.i.am on her album Britney Jean, with fellow songwriters Ana Diaz and Dan Traynor with whom he wrote and produced the track "Alien". He was a writer and producer on the Chris Brown song "Don't Wake Me Up" which was recorded at Record Plant in LA and for which he received an ASCAP award in 2013. The song has had 180 Million views on YouTube. This was followed by a production of the Queen track "There Must Be More to Life Than This", which featured archive vocals by Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson. Orbit went on to produce another Queen song, "Let Me in Your Heart Again". In 2015 his composition "The Name of the Wave" was used in the Oscar winning documentary Amy directed by Asif Kapadia.
He performed in 2015 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and at a gala at Banqueting House in London's Whitehall for the charity Together For Short Lives, a group that sponsors and supports children with terminal illness and their families.
|1990||Strange Cargo II
|1993||Strange Cargo III
|1995||Strange Cargo Hinterland
|1999||Pieces in a Modern Style [A]
|2009||My Oracle Lives Uptown [B]
|2010||Pieces in a Modern Style 2 [C]
|2014||Orbit Symphonic [D]
|Strange Cargo 5 [D]
- A^ The original 1995 release was credited to the Orbit alias 'The Electric Chamber', but was withdrawn from sale almost immediately. Re-released in 2000 with additional tracks taking the place of un-cleared tracks from the first release.
- B^ CD release has 4 additional tracks which are not available as a digital download
- C^ Released on single CD and double CD including notable remixes, and a digital version with a bonus track
- D^ Available for free download from SoundCloud
- The Best of Strange Cargos (1996, I.R.S.) – A compilation from Orbit's first three Strange Cargo albums, highlighted by two versions of "Water From A Vine Leaf", another collaboration with Beth Orton
- Strange Cargo Vol.1–3 (2000, EMI Records) – 3-CD Box Set
- William / Orbit (2002, Universal) – U.S. two-disc publishing CD set to support William Orbit's publishing catalogue
||US DC/P |
|1987||"Feel Like Jumping"||–||–||–||Orbit|
|"Love My Way"||–||–||–|
|1993||"Water From A Vine Leaf" (William Orbit featuring Beth Orton)||59||–||–||Strange Cargo III|
|1999||"Barber's Adagio For Strings"||4||23||13||Pieces in a Modern Style|
|2000||"Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte"||31||–||–|
|2003||"Feel Good Time" (Pink featuring William Orbit)||3||7||8||Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (OST)|
|"Dice" (Finley Quaye & William Orbit)||–||–||–||Much More Than Much Love (Finley Quaye album)|
|2009||"Optical Illusions"||–||–||–||My Oracle Lives Uptown|
|2010||"Nimrod"||–||–||–||Pieces in a Modern Style 2|
|1990||Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass
|1991||Science & Melody
With Strange Cargo
Production and songwriting credits
|"24 Hours"||1990||Betty Boo||Boomania|
|"Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil"||1993||Beth Orton||Superpinkymandy|
|"Faith Will Carry"|
|"She Cries Your Name"|
|"When You Wake"|
|"Roll the Dice"|
|"Where Do You Go"|
|"Turning Ground"||1995||Caroline Lavelle||Spirit|
|"Dream of Picasso"|
|"Forget the Few"|
|"A Case of You"|
|"Waiting For Rain"|
|"Drowned World/Substitute for Love"||1998||Madonna||Ray of Light|
|"Ray of Light"|
|"Candy Perfume Girl"|
|"Nothing Really Matters"|
|"Sky Fits Heaven"|
|"The Power of Good-Bye"|
|"To Have and Not to Hold"|
|"Has to Be"|
|"Coffee & TV"|
|"No Distance Left to Run"|
|"Be Careful (Cuidado Con Mi Corazón)"||Ricky Martin and Madonna||Ricky Martin|
|"Beautiful Stranger"||Madonna||Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me|
|"Go!"||Melanie C||Northern Star|
|"American Pie"||2000||Madonna||The Next Best Thing|
|"Time Stood Still"|
|"Pure Shores"||All Saints||Saints & Sinners|
|"Making Out"||2001||No Doubt||Rock Steady|
|"Thinking About Tomorrow"||2002||Beth Orton||Daybreaker|
|"Electrical Storm"||U2||The Best of 1990–2000|
|"The Hands That Built America" (Theme from 'Gangs of New York')|
|"Sweet Song"||2003||Blur||Think Tank|
|"Feel Good Time"||Pink||Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle|
|"Dice"||2004||Finley Quaye||Much More Than Much Love|
|"I'd Love to Kill You"||2010||Katie Melua||The House|
|"A Happy Place"|
|"A Moment of Madness"|
|"No Fear of Heights"|
|"The One I Love Is Gone"|
|"Plague of Love"|
|"God on the Drums, Devil on the Bass"|
|"I'm a Sinner"|
|"Don't Wake Me Up"||Chris Brown||Fortune|
|"Alien"||2013||Britney Spears||Britney Jean|
|"There Must Be More to Life Than This"||2014||Queen and Michael Jackson||Queen Forever|
|"After All"||2018||All Saints||Testament|
|"Testament in Motion"|
Awards and nominations
- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song — "Beautiful Stranger"
- Grammy Award for Album of the Year — Ray of Light
- Grammy Award for Record of the Year — "Ray of Light"
- Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album — Pieces in a Modern Style
- Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals — "Feel Good Time"
- "William Orbit." Contemporary Musicians. Vol. 30. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2000. Retrieved via Biography in Context database, 2017-05-07. Available online via Encyclopedia.com.
- "Torch Song". Discogs. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
- "Torch Song - Prepare To Energize". Discogs. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
- "Bachelor Party (1984) Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
- YouTube clip: "William Orbit - Opening Score(from Youngblood Soundtrack)", YouTube, Sept 12, 2012.
- YouTube clip: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Soundtrack White Night By Torch Song", YouTube, Sept 12, 2012.
- "Guerilla Studios". Discogs. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
- "The Official Charts Company: William Orbit". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- UK Official Singles Charts "Official Singles Chart Top 100, 12th Dec 1999",
- Andreas Scholl Discography. "Andreas Scholl Discography",
- Aspden, Peter (June June 22, 2007). "Alluring echoes of Hoxton". Financial Times: FT Weekend, Life & Arts. www.ft.com. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
- Performance: WILLIAM ORBIT Royal Festival Hall, London. "Performance: WILLIAM ORBIT Royal Festival Hall, London", 'Independent', Monday 24 July 1995.
- The sound of discord. "William Orbit, who appears alongside Stockhausen in next month's Elektronic Festival ", 'The Guardian', 29th Sept 2001.
- William Orbit confirmed for first London Electronic Arts Festival. "Georgio Moroder and William Orbit confirmed for first London Electronic Arts Festival", 'Indie London', Nov 2013.
- Carrera Presents Liberatum Hong Kong International Festival of Culture. "Carrera Presents Liberatum Hong Kong International Festival of Culture", 'Lisa Baker Associates Limited', 22 March 2012.
- William Orbit at Buckingham Palace. "William Orbit played the national anthem at Buckingham Palace party", 'irishexaminer', Thursday, 4 June 2015.
- ASCAP Awards. "ASCAP Awards 2013", 'ASCAP', 2013.
- YouTube. "ASCAP Awards 2013", 'Chris Brown - Don't Wake Me Up', June 2012.
- Amy (soundtrack). "Amy", 'Amy (soundtrack)', Oct 2015.
- The midsummer ball. "Together for Short Lives’ Midsummer Ball", 'The Midsummer Ball', 3 June 2015.
- Tobias Zywietz. "The Official Zobbel Homepage". Zobbel.de. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- "Discography William Orbit". Australian-Charts.com. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- "William Orbit > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- "Orbit Symphonic". SoundCloud. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- "Strange Cargo 5". SoundCloud. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- "William Orbit - William / Orbit". Discogs.com. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
- "William Orbit > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- "Hinterland – William Orbit, Strange Cargo : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
- "Hinterland: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
- "Strange Cargo Discography at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
- "William Orbit - The Recording Academy". GRAMMY.com. The Recording Academy. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
- "William Orbit - Awards - IMDb". IMDb.com. Retrieved 11 August 2019.