Heloise Tunstall-Behrens & Auclair share first single "Dance Off", and announce album "The Swarm"

Heloise Tunstall-Behrens & Auclair share first single "Dance Off", and announce album "The Swarm"


We are pleased to announce our first release, “The Swarm” - a choral and sound-piece that intimately follows a colony of bees, as they take flight in search fo a new home. Composed by Heloise Tunstall-Behrens and Auclair, “The Swarm” is due for release on the 18th September.

First single, "Dance Off". is out today!

“‘Dance Off’ is the pivotal moment within the narrative of “The Swarm”, when the bees have to decide as a group where they will build their new home together,” the artists explain. “Scout bees seek out potential new locations, like metal cylinders, ventilation shafts, hollow trees, and other cavities found in an urban environment. They then return to the waiting cluster of bees and communicate their findings using a sequence of movements, called a ‘waggle dance’. Each bee uses the dance to share information on the location and quality of each site with one another. Bees who have watched the dance then go to investigate, return and share their findings. The competing dances continue until they reach a consensus on the best site, at which point, the bees move en mass to the winning site.

"Dance off" is accompanied by video, shot on 16mm film.

Heloise Tunstall Behrens & Auclair
Dance Off

“With the ‘Dance Off’ film we wanted to imagine the world from a bees-eye view. We collaborated with Rosalind Fowler who shot all the 16mm footage, Tilly Mint who created the psychedelic macro footage and editor Simon Ryninks.”

The Swarm The Swarm Packshot

A queen usurped; a home deserted; a colony of individuals who act as one. “The Swarm” is a drama of epic proportions.

Taking inspiration from the vibrations with which bees communicate, and the patterns created by their social organisation, “The Swarm” is a choral-sound piece that takes us on an intimate journey as a colony of bees takes flight in search of a new home.

The Swarm” was born out of a collaboration between composers and bee-keepers Heloise Tunstall-Behrens and Auclair, with Tunstall-Behrens on vocal composition, and Auclair on sound design.

“From years of working with bees, we became more and more curious about their sound world. The physical sensation of being surrounded by their collective hum is really special, switching between modes of listening to the group and then to individuals. This got us thinking about different forms of polyphony where individual melodies are layered or intersect to create a sound that is bigger than the sum of its parts.

The Swarm” began life as an audio-visual performance debuted at the Brunel Museum in London in 2016, and then performed at VAULT Festival in 2017. The piece has been developed into a recording due for release through Amorphous Sounds, the label collective run by members of the Deep Throat Choir.

Fans of Roomful of Teeth, Meredith Monk, and Steve Reich take note. These choral movements take us on a journey of intricate polyphonic explosions and tightly woven all-embracing harmonies, amidst a bed of deep electronics and field-recordings.

“We recorded hours of activity inside the hive. Hearing actual piping and quacking - the calls made by newly emerged virgin queens - for the first time was amazing. Off the back of the hive recordings we made, we did lots of research into the ways bees use sound and patterns - from identifying the key frequencies of their buzzing, to the mathematics inherent in honeycomb structures. We took our findings and figured out ways of translating it into the ‘human’ realm, working out all kinds of interesting musical parallels with polyphonic singing, hocketing and euclidean rhythms.”

The piece is performed by an all-female choir, representing the core of a honeybee colony, and is a metaphor for the journey towards collective identity. The swarm is a ritual of social cohesion - the colony must unify in order to survive.