Originally William Mark Wainwright, born on the 15th of December 1956.
He is an English musician, composer and record producer who has sold 200 million recordings worldwide of his own work and his production and songwriting work, and is the recipient of multiple Grammys, Ivor Novello awards and other music industry awards.
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. He married at the age of 19, and he and his wife had a daughter, then separated shortly later. 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 the very young Rob Lowe and Keanu Reeves, and another song “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 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
Later collaborations and productions included U2, Britney Spears, Pink, Katie Melua’s album ‘'The House'’, Madonna, No Doubt, Ricky Martin, Beth Orton, Sarah McLachlan, Queen, The Joy Formidable, Robbie Williams, All Saints 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 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 fall 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 February 22, 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 deejay 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 axle grinders as part of the musical ensemble.
In 2001 he took part in the Stockhausen Electronic Festival at the Barbican Theatre.
In 2013 he took part in the London Electronic Arts Festival in Shoreditch, curated by Rob Da Bank and Ben Turner, in a lecture and multimedia music performance. The event was highlighted by the presentation of the 'Gogobot' a collaboration between himself and friend Rico Conning. The device is an cybernetic drum robot constructed from low tech components such as car lock actuators and signal relays, controlled by their own software. This is a venture that the two continue to develop in California.
He participated in the Liberatum International Cultural Festival in Russia, during which he performed in Moscow and Novosibirsk, Siberia, and gave lectures.
More recently Orbit has deejayed at various clubs in London and Ibiza and at Buckingham Palace for Her Majesty The Queen’s annual staff and family Christmas party.
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 165 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 has recently performed 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.
Solo Albums List
1) 1987 Orbit
2) 1987 Strange Cargo
3) 1990 Strange Cargo II
4) 1993 Strange Cargo III
5) 1995 Strange Cargo Hinterland
6) 1999 Pieces in a Modern Style
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
7) 2006 Hello Waveforms
8) 2009 My Oracle Lives Uptown
CD release has 4 additional tracks which are not available as a digital download
9) 2010 Pieces in a Modern Style 2
Released on single CD and double CD including notable remixes, and a digital version with a bonus track
10) 2014 Orbit Symphonic
11) Strange Cargo 5
10 and 11 both available for free download from SoundCloud
1) 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
2) Strange Cargo Vol.1–3 (2000, EMI Records) – 3-CD Box Set
3) William / Orbit (2002, Universal) – U.S. two-disc publishing CD set to support William Orbit's publishing catalogue
- 1987 "Feel Like Jumping" (Form Orbit)
- 1987 "Love My Way" (From Orbit)
- 1993 "Water From A Vine Leaf" (William Orbit featuring Beth Orton, From Strange Cargo III)
- 1999 "Barber's Adagio For Strings" (From Pieces in a Modern Style)
- 2000 "Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte"
- 2003 "Feel Good Time" (Pink featuring William Orbit, From Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle OST)
- 2003 "Dice" (Finley Quaye & William Orbit, From Much More Than Much Love, Finley Quaye album)
- 2009 "Optical Illusions" (From My Oracle Lives Uptown)
- 2009 "Purdy" (From My Oracle Lives Uptown)
- 2010 "Nimrod" (From Pieces in a Modern Style 2)
1) 1990 Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass
2) 1991 Science & Melody
With Strange Cargo
1) 1995 Hinterland
With Torch Song
1) 1984 Wish Thing
2) 1986 Ecstasy
3) 1987 Exhibit A
4) 1995 Toward the Unknown Region