Between festivals, theaters and concerts all over the world, the unconventional Everyone Orchestra has one goal — make both the audience and the musicians live in the moment.
This rotating orchestra is always keen to up the ante, since they double as an improvisational group. Creator and conductor Matt Butler said he sees the audience as “an extended chorus” and tries to feed off of their energy as much as possible during these improv shows.
As the conductor, Butler can lead the musicians in any way he wants to, which most of the time is however the audience wants it to go that very second. Not only is he conducting the band, but he is also conducting the audience. Sometimes he will ask for volunteers to pick a word or a song title and the band will perform a piece based on that. For many performances Butler can be seen with a whiteboard or using hand gestures to change the pace of the song.
“There’s moments of people looking around,” Butler said on what it’s like watching the musicians improvise. “They’re human, they’re looking at what they’re going to play next.”
By creating a safe and comfortable environment for their musicians, Everyone Orchestra also opens up that space to vulnerability. Butler describes the sound as more organic than EDM, creating an aura similar to gospel music.
But worrying about genre is besides the point for Butler. He wants people to avoid wondering cliché things about songs, such as the meaning or who wrote what, and instead just have fun listening.
Aside from being an orchestra that doubles as an improv group, the Everyone Orchestra also has the unique facet of rotating musicians — meaning unlike most traveling bands, it is rare for the same group of musicians to perform together twice.
The members, instead, vary based on the city Butler is in and who asks to collaborate with them. Past members have also even consisted of famous bands including members from The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band and Phish. By having such a dynamically changing set-up, it helps the group challenge their musical abilities and keep their music fresh — which is what they aim to do in the first place.
This is not to say the Everyone Orchestra is simply haphazard; Butler is seeking to build a community. In the future, Butler is aiming to organize workshops and retreats to encourage creativity and community amongst musicians. Also in the works is a video experience project to tell the band’s story.
“What we purvey is not the end result,” Butler said. “It’s the process.”
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When they perform at the Majestic March 6, the band’s current iteration will have already played three shows on their tour — bringing them into “the honeymoon of a band” as Butler calls it.
Despite their relatively short time together, Butler anticipates the band will be a fine-tuned machine by that time and will blossom during the show. It is bound to be a one-of-a-kind performance and an experience of spontaneity at its finest.