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The Hustle

Name: Jeremy Douglass (Florida Bjorkestra)

Posted By Joe Hamilton

You've heard of Florida Orchestra, but what about Florida Bjorkestra? The Bjorkestra is comprised of 20 musicians from the Tampa Bay Area, paying tribute to their favorite pop artists, including their namesake, Bjork. The ensemble was Jeremy Douglass' brainchild. It started with a desire to experiment with Bjork's groundbreaking sound - to play with acoustic versions of her electronic songs. "It's since evolved into something more resembling a theater company than a band," says Douglass, "I'm not complaining." The Bjorkestra's next show is April 15th at the Palladium in St. Pete. The completely new show will perform a unique rendition of the best of Madonna and George Michael.

Years in Tampa Bay

25 years

Hustle (job)

Bandleader, arranger, cat herder

What do you do?  

I gather the musicians and other various performers and contributors, coordinate schedules for rehearsals and show day, arrange and write the music, print the sheet music, run the rehearsals, take point on marketing and reaching out to print publications, concert blogs, music critics and local and regional event aggregators like I Love The Burg. Hunt for sponsorship and maintain those relationships. Hire production crew for set design, props, theming elements and lead all production meetings.

Why do you do it?

Because it’s FUN work. And at the end there’s a show, and it’s glorious.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

I’ve been a musician all my life. I started this particular project out of a desire to experiment with acoustic recreations of Björk’s pioneering electronic sound. It’s since evolved into something more resembling a theater company than a band. I’m not complaining.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

The music just happens. It really doesn’t. It takes a lot of work. Hours and hours of preparation go into just one show. From the weeks of 6-8 hour days of working on arrangements to putting the individual musicians’ parts on paper, to the rehearsals. It takes at least a month out of my life to put on one of these concerts.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

Coordinating the schedules of over 20 very busy professional musicians. Finding a day that we can all commit to doing the show is less than half the battle. With the amount of rehearsals needed and the sheer size of the group, it’s impossible to have the entire ensemble rehearse all together. We split the band up into sections. Rhythm section (drums, bass, guitars, percussion, piano), string section (4 string players), horn section (4 horn players) and vocal section (usually two lead vocalists and 3 or 4 background vocalists). Each section will rehearse their parts separately. Often times, the concert is the first time we all have heard the full ensemble play the material together. So from beginning to end, the whole process from schedule coordination to the final presentation of the show is like designing and then assembling a puzzle with moving parts. I’m exhausted just writing about it here.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

I was hoping you guys would be the first to give some valuable advice and insight. I’ve been kinda making this up as I go along.

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