By Nicholas Jason Lopez
These guys take reimagination to the next level.
Whether it be Bad Bunny, ROSALIA, The Weeknd, Sam Smith, Lauryn Hill or Kim Petras, chances are Nu Deco Ensemble have taken their own orchestral spin on modern hits and if they haven’t gotten to your favorite yet, they soon will.
This year, the NDE have been considered for a Grammy nomination for their renditions of “Unholy” (“Arrangement, Instrumental or A Capella”) and “Duende” (“Contemporary Instrumental Album”).
The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with NDE Co-Founder and Artistic Director Jacomo Bairos about the live experience post-COVID, what the art of collaborations means to him and much more, which you can check out below.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Jacomo Bairos – That we get to perform in all styles! We believe the orchestra is the ultimate vehicle from artistic expression and connection. There are no walls or ceiling on what the modern Orchestra can do, especially ours that incorporates all instruments of the 21st century, not just the traditional. Therefore, our musical palette is extremely wide and there is so much excitement, creativity and diversity of music and programming we get to do. This is what sets us apart and allows us to be authentic to ourselves.
Music Bugle – What has COVID-19 taught you about the idea of live music, that it can be taken away without any warning?
Jacomo Bairos – COVID hasn’t changed our idea or how we feel about live music per se. However, it has created new values, opportunities and expanded how we utilize the orchestra to connect with diverse audiences around the world. We love the concert hall. It is truly where the magic happens. However, as we have pivoted like so many, we have discovered new intimate, engaging and powerful ways to connect with audiences, as well as kids for that matter through our imagination series, that has helped us grow in and mature in ways we perhaps may have never achieved. 2020 was a shock, like, “What now?” 2021 to now was, “Let’s continue to execute and evolve.” We can’t promote ourselves as a 21st century orchestra, then not use the tools and platforms of the 21st century to continue to bring music to our audiences and fans. While 2020 was very hard for everyone in our industry – and outside it for that matter – afterwards has been a time where people discovered themselves again and rethought what it meant to be engaged and relevant and for us, that meant reaching people in all the available ways we can, and continuing to educate and inspire through our education initiatives.
Music Bugle – How would you describe what the art of collaboration means to you?
Jacomo Bairos – We love all our collaborators. Each concert is a chance for us to meet and work with new and exciting artists. Every concert presents an opportunity for us to learn more about music and ourselves. Some artists are very engaged in the content creation process, which has its own unique vibe and is very recur-rival, some artists trust the process Sam goes through in writing to show up and rehearse and others are excited to have this be their first Orchestral experience. We love the diversity and uniqueness of each artist and how we connect with them is always a special moment.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Jacomo Bairos – I used to be a “go away to a cabin and hide away from the world” kind of person and I still am. However, recently, I have gone back to my roots more to Portugal, where I am from and bought a place in Lisbon that allows me to unwind, relax and re-energize.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Jacomo Bairos – Ha! This is hard! When I’m not preparing for concerts or collaborations, I do love Portuguese music, especially new music from Portugal, classical music in general and a bit of the oldies.
Music Bugle – What’s something that you wish happened less in today’s music industry?
Jacomo Bairos – Homogenizing of styles. I think when a new sound breaks out, such as reggaeton did, it gets over-done in a way that disturbs the original style from which it came. I love reggaeton, but so many artists use this beat, or adopt a version of it, that makes it more watered down and further away from its original DNA. However, I do like me a good Bad Bunny track!
Music Bugle – What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Jacomo Bairos – Wow.. so many beautiful moments. I think there are two big moments for me. One, that we were able to provide work, connection and music right after COVID by keeping the music going through live streams, new albums and EP’s and unique commissions of diverse and talented artists. Second, the development of our newest initiative, our youth ensemble, Nu Deco NXT, which is based off our ensemble, but also instructs and teaches kids wellness and mindfulness initiatives, along with leadership and communication skills.
Music Bugle – What’s something that people might be surprised to know about you?
Jacomo Bairos – That Sam Hyken – Co-founder and CEO, as well as my best friend – and I met in Singapore playing in the orchestra together. He was a trumpet player and myself a tuba player and both of us went to Juilliard, lived overseas for a time, then left to start NDE!