Collective Consciousness: An Interview with Assemble


as·​sem·​ble | \ ə-ˈsem-bəl : to bring together (as in a particular place or for a particular purpose)

With singers from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds, there is room for everyone to bring their individual talents to contemporary, mixed voiced choir, Assemble. The UK-based group takes acapella to a futurist level, complete with clean beatboxing, brassy bass humming, euphoric vocal melodies and charming breakdowns.

“There’s definitely an area where we all converge which meets at the crossroads of pop, soul, dance music and electronica,” vocal producer, MD and Assemble founder Juliet Russell said. “Beyond that there are so many individual influences and cultural compasses including gospel, jazz, afrobeat, country music, musical theatre, nu-soul, classical, acoustic, choral, garage, alternative. We all come from slightly different musical places, but meet in this shared creative space.”

Singing together is usually an uplifting and connected experience, but that experience soon changed due to the inability to physically get together and perform. This made recording music challenging, as each part was recorded separately yet still had to capture the vibe that they have when they’re all together.

It was a good challenge, however, to learn how to innovate and collaborate differently. It brought them their first single, “Blue Monday”, a cover of the 1983 New Order track. Despite being nearly 40 years old, “Blue Monday” still sounds futuristic and timeless. Russell was easily able to picture how it would work vocally with voices as synths, beats and electronic textures. Lead vocalist Barbara Pursey could reimagine the ambiguous lyrics by providing a female vocal instead of the original male vocal.

“The original was inspired by a Donna Summer B-side and the disco elements just seemed to emerge in our version in a very natural, subconscious way,” Russell said. “We hope that when listening people really connect with the way that Barbara sings it, maybe in a different way to how they have experienced the song previously. We also hope they feel the celebration of the human voice - the instrument we carry around with us is incredible!”

The most rewarding aspect of creating “Blue Monday” was finally being able to come together to film the music video. After not being in the same physical space for over a year, they want viewers to recall that same sense of disconnection and separation they felt while also continuing to build something better together - something more connected, inclusive and celebratory rather than fueling fear, division and suspicion.

Assemble recognizes the importance of individuality and that each soul has a unique lived experience that should be respected, honored and appreciated. While celebrating each other as individuals and as a collective through their music, they plan to raise the collective consciousness in any way they can.