Sam and Jaron are two incredible artists that I had the pleasure to spend a week with during the recording of their Masterclass. I’m very excited to share their interview today to help you learn more about this talented and bubbly couple.
Could you please introduce yourself ?
We are Samantha Archer and Jaron Tripp - Archer & Tripp. We met at Hangout UK ‘14 and formed a very easy and natural bond both musically and personally shortly after!
How did you end up playing handpan? What’s your story? When and how did you discover it?
Sam: I discovered it through making contact with my biological father, Michael Colley, for the first time back in 2010 when I was 20. He responded by sending a video of himself playing and talking about the Hang and I was just so mesmerised. Already a musician my entire childhood, this was something new, exciting and inviting.
Jaron: I first saw a hang at a campground in Corsica, summer 2005. I was playing Djembe and an old French man came and asked me to come with him to his friend to play music with them. This friend, the swiss percussionist Beat Föllmi (what a great name for a drummer), had a 1st Gen Hang and let me play it for a while. I fell in love then and there.
What do you like the most about handpans?
The lack of tradition. The chance to develop your own style and techniques on a blank canvas. The rich yet gentle sounds. The community that has developed!
What’s your best souvenir, the best thing the handpan brought in your life? (Encounter, travel story, friendship, gig, event etc)
If you were lost on a desert island with only one scale, which one would it be?
Sam: At the moment I think I would say my Ayasa C major 17 - I’ve never been a fan of major scales, but this layout and the sound is just amazing and pulls me in to play more and more and more.
Jaron: Probably my Integral Hang. Or… an Ayasa Ember Steel D Kurd 18.
How would you describe your handpan style?
We both have such different styles, and whilst we may share some techniques, our approach and way of playing is still so different, which we love.
Sam: Mine is much more melodic and harmony driven and I love exploring with textures and little embellishments and flourishes. I love to play in long and loose phrases but have developed the ability to also be very rhythmical and groovey at the same time - the influence of Jaron has rubbed off on me.
Jaron: I mostly play very gently. I like pulling sounds out of the instrument rather than forcing it to sing a certain way. Since I started playing at the age of 20, while I was still in the early stages of my development as a percussionist, I have definitely grown with the handpan and my way of playing it has greatly influenced my way of playing music in general. I am much more of a rhythmical player.
On which handpan are you currently playing?
It changes every day.
Nitrided or stainless?
Depends on the mood - but Ember Steel is another world!
Could you describe to us your album 'Perspectives'?
This is a big question, and we feel it is best answered through our promotional text about our latest Album, ‘Perspectives’
‘In early 2019, the world music duo, Archer & Tripp, set out on a minimalist 3 month adventure carrying only one pentatonic handpan, a 15’’ frame drum, some simple woodwind and a few little things. Their goal was to come home with a music memoir.
From the mountains in northern Thailand to the stunning sunsets along the Mekong river in Laos, from the chaos of Cambodia to the vastness of the California Deserts. From pacific ocean to the land of hummus and tahini in Israel, the duo worked and composed on the road to create their new album ‘perspectives’.
"Finding sanctuary among the chaos, and colourful diverse life growing out of cracked and barren land was a great inspiration in the making of ‘perspectives’."
The 11 track album is a beautiful balance between intentional compositions and improvised spontaneous play, recorded by sound engineer, instrument maker and musician, Thomas Ben Tov at Nagariya Studios in Israel. Multi-instrumentalists Samantha Archer and Jaron Tripp share and change roles with such ease, offering a diverse listening experience with the evolving and blending of instrumentation.
The depth of emotion and chemistry between the musicians who are playing, living and traveling together for more than 5 years is distinctly felt in this masterful piece.
Taking you around the world through mesmerising melodies, this organic acoustic album has a rawness to it, packed full of authenticity and emotion, intricately weaved through the landscapes of complex yet entrancing rhythms and groove.
A true storytelling album.’
How do you compose? Where does come from your inspiration, creativity?
We compose in a variety of ways. Sometimes we start from a rhythm, a pattern or a hook line and develop from there. Often our pieces are born from improvisation and refined through creating structure and breaks.
Travels, human interaction, nature and self reflection are our greatest source of inspiration.
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Which of your tracks is your favorite one ? and why ?
Sam: I think mine actually might be Fayre Enough… It’s one of the first pieces we wrote and I still love it. Although I mostly love all of the pieces we created on our latest Album, ‘Perpectives’.
Jaron: I don’t think I have ‘a’ favourite track. I love our variety in instrumentation and the moods/atmospheres that we create together. I couldn’t pick just one.
Any fun stories, anecdotes during the recording or during the making of this album ?
Jaron: Near Thomas Ben Tov’s ‘Nagariya Studios’ in Binyamina, Israel, is my second favourite ;) bakery that I ever encountered. Mentioning that I am a huge fan of well crafted breads of all kinds and that I am blessed to have a windmill close by my home town that grounds regional flour and has an organic bakery (‘Kriemhilds Mühle’ in Xanten) in it. Wherever I go I search for good bread. ‘Borkins Bread’ in Binyamina was a revelation - therefore during our recordings for ‘perspectives’ I was often very full of bread. :)
We are also all interested (as it’s a handpan blog here) about your handpan recording equipment. Would you mind sharing it with us?
We always record with professional sound engineers in professional studios.
What’s your recording setup at home?
Haha. We have all the equipment we need, but a severe lack of know-how, or rather lack of will power to figure it all out.
What’s your best handpan microphone ever?
Sam & Jaron: I don’t know, you tell us?
David : haha. It depends on so many things, I wrote this article about the best equipment for recording handpan that I know.
Where can we buy your music?
We would always recommend to buy our music via our website first as we receive 100% of what is paid, however we also recommend to get our music via Bandcamp. It’s possible to get both physical and digital form both from either our website or Bandcamp.
Otherwise, our music is also available to download on all major platforms (we just get a considerably smaller cut).
Where can we find your previous albums?
Sam & Jaron: On all major platforms, Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp and directly on our website.
David : Check out their profile in the Handpan Players Directory.
What book is on your bedside table right now?
Sam: Frédérick Leboyer, ‘The Art of Giving Birth: With Chanting, Breathing, and Movement’ - That’s a hint!!
Jaron: There are always several books I am reading. Currently, ‘The amazing liver and gallbladder flush’ by Andreas Moritz, a book of Short Stories by Rose Tremain as well as a collection of short novels by Werner Bergengruen.
What’s in your music playlist right now? What is the last album you’ve been listening to?
The album we are listening to at the moment the most (we go through phases of listening to it over and over again) is ‘Gently Disturbed’ by Avisahai Cohen Trio! This album is just incredible!!
We love breakfast although it’s almost always brunch or lunch for us as we don’t usually eat early in the morning. We love anything from an amazing warm and nutritious porridge to avocado toast, cacao smoothies to vegan pancakes or… oh wow, too many delicious breakfasts to list. A new discovery is spiced cacao buckwheat porridge. Nom nom nom :)