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artist information

William Orbit

William Orbit (born on 15 December 1956 as William Mark Wainwright in Shoreditch, Hackney) is an English musician and record producer, perhaps best known to most for his work on Madonna's album Ray of Light, which received four Grammy Awards. He has also co-produced several unreleased Madonna songs originally recorded for other albums that were never used. In addition, he produced "13" by Blur, and remixed some of the songs on the album.

He is also a composer and multi-instrumentalist who has specialised in keyboard electronica and much of his work also features accomplished guitar playing. He has also recorded several largely instrumental solo albums under the name Strange Cargo which features vocals by Beth Orton, Laurie Mayer and Joe Frank,among others. "Water from a Vineleaf" was a chart success from the album Strange Cargo 3.

Prior to that he formed the group Torch Song, with Laurie Mayer, in the 1980s. At that time the band first developed Guerilla Studios in an abandoned school on the Harrow Road. They shared the premises with a group of Spanish anarchists and it became known as El Centro Iberico. They were later joined by a third member, Rico Conning.

Orbit was the musical force behind Bassomatic in the early 1990s. Their hit of the early 90's was "Fascinating Rhythm".

He has also produced and remixed songs by numerous other artists, such as French pop star Étienne Daho along with producer Rico Conning they produced the Pop Satori album , Scottish act One Dove, and Seal. He also remixed Prince's #1 hit song movie tie-in, Batdance, in 1989. Orbit's remixes carry his signature electronic sounds and techniques, making them sought after by fans of his solo work. Orbit also made a remix of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings (the original arrangement of which features as the main theme of the soundtrack to Platoon). Adagio was lifted from the successful album Pieces in a Modern Style which was a compilation of classical re-workings. Orbit's version of the track was itself remixed by Ferry Corsten and became a big club music hit.

He has worked with girl groups All Saints ("Pure Shores", "Black Coffee") and Sugababes and Pink (Feel Good Time from Charlie's Angels 2). Some of his remixes include the song "Electrical Storm" by U2 in the album The Best of 1990-2000. His remix is called "Electrical Storm (William Orbit Mix)".

Orbit has also created several radio shows. In the late 90's he had a series on Los Angeles based KCRW, called Stereo Odyssey. In 2005, his album Hello Waveforms was released on the Sanctuary label.

More recently he produced two tracks - Louise, and Summertime - for Robbie Williams 2006 album, Rudebox. At this time he also mixed several tracks on Laurie Mayer's latest album, Black Lining.

In the fall of 2006, Purdy, a track Orbit co-composed with Laurie Mayer and Rico Conning, was used as the soundtrack in a television ad campaign for H&M, which was directed by and starred Madonna.

William is currently composing his first orchestral suite for a full orchestra. The composition will be performed for the first time on July 8, 2007 by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in the Bridgwater Hall at the Manchester International Festival.


More complete discographies can be found when endeavouring external links.

Torch Song

  • Wish Thing
  • Ecstasy
  • Exhibit A
  • Toward the Unknown Region


  • Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass
  • Science & Melody


  • Orbit
  • Strange Cargo
  • Strange Cargo II
  • Superpinkymandy
    • Released in Japan only as a Beth Orton album, but the sound was characteristically Orbit, making this possibly his most sought after rarity.
  • Strange Cargo III
  • Strange Cargo Hinterland
  • Pieces in a Modern Style
    • Original release, withdrawn
  • Pieces in a Modern Style
    • Altered re-release, minus uncleared tracks from first release, although with additional tracks in their place
  • Hello Waveforms (released on Sanctuary records, 20th February in UK, and February 21st 2006 for USA).
  • Cellcloud
    • Working title to a Strange Cargo album due to be released on 2007 on the Theomorph label.

Equipment Used

Used on Madonna's Ray of Light:

  • Waldorf Wave
  • Roland Juno-106
  • Roland JD-800
  • Roland JP-8000
  • Yamaha DX7
  • Novation BassStation
  • Korg MS-20
  • Akai S3200 sampler
  • Sherman Filterbank
  • Atari ST Computer running Cubase II
  • Pro Tools TDM

Uses/Has Used:

  • Trident 80A Mixing Desk
  • Roland Dimension D Chorus
  • Yamaha SY-99 (on Torch Song's Into The Unknown Region)
  • Roland SH-101
  • Roland D-50 or Roland D-10 (has either used or used samples from; various jam loops are heard in Strange Cargo 2 and 3)

Used with Torch Song/Guerilla Studio in the 1980s:

  • AMS Digital Reverb
  • AMS Digital Delay
  • Linn LinnDrum
  • Minimoog
  • Movement II Drum Computer
  • Otari 24-track recorder
  • Roland CSQ600 Sequencer
  • Roland Jupiter-8
  • Roland SH-2
  • Roland TR-808
  • Roland TR-909
  • Roland RE-201 Space Echo
  • Sequential Circuits Prophet-5
  • Simmons SD5 Drum Brain
  • Yamaha DX7

Used in Torch Song's live performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1995:

  • Yamaha SY-99 (played by William Orbit)
  • Roland Juno-106(played by William Orbit)
  • Roland JD-800(played by William Orbit)
  • Akai S-3000 series samplers

various Roland drum-pads

  • Atari ST computer
  • Yamaha KX88 (controller played by Laurie Mayer)
  • Yamaha SY-77 (played by Rico Conning)

possibly *Roland MKB-300 (controller keyboard played by Rico Conning)

  • unknown other keyboard played by Rico Conning, possibly Yamaha DX-7, Roland JV-80, or Roland U-20