For six days next week, Camden's Roundhouse will be transformed into The Island, a place more mysterious than Question 17 on the 2011 Census. There's no sign of Jack Shepherd or Ricardo Montalbán here; instead, the island residents are some unusual musicians called the London Snorkelling Team plus animators and comedians including Will Adamsdale (aka Perrier award-winning life coach Chris John Jackson) and Ed Gaughan.
The Team play wonky cartoon music with a collection of instruments that are traditional (drums, saxophone, trombone and Moog), exotic (cavaquinho and Farfisa) or plain bizarre (parabolic reflector, overhead projector and horse). We wanted to know more so we waited for them to surface before firing off some pertinent questions.
How did the London Snorkelling Team come about?
We began three years ago as a quartet of musicians who love the old "library" music often used in film and television – it has a kind of friendly madness, and is often quite cartoony. Actors and overhead-projectionists came on board since we loved the idea of making the LST more of a variety show. We now have one of the worst magicians in the world in our act.
How would you describe yourselves to someone who had never been to your show?
We've had various descriptions over the years that now make us blush: there's nothing more treacherous than saying, "Hey, we're just WACKY!" It's a silly show, yes, but it's done very seriously. Perhaps it's postmetahyperanachronism. Our first album comes with a beautiful map, detailing an imaginary island from which all the tunes come. In this parallel world we are employees of Valmont China Clay Ltd and our role is to assist with the radio broadcasts from the island, and we are pioneers of the use of classroom overhead projectors on the wireless. You are witnessing this radio broadcast when you come to the show.
What's behind the name? Do any of you snorkel?
On the island, before our eyesight deterioration we were all keen snorkelists; we still observe closely the development of the sport, and there may be some casual swimming in our spare time. (In fact, the name came after a desperate attempt to find something that resonated with what we do, and gave people a flavour of the music. As you can see, we couldn't find one.)
If you were busking, where would you perform?
Just outside the mobile surgery that Embarassing Bodies tours the country with, entertaining all the people who want their odd parts on television.
What would be your fantasy snorkelling pool in London?
The High Court, filled with helium.
The London Snorkelling Team will be on The Island next week (April 11-16) at the Roundhouse. Video, audio and tickets can be found here.
If you like the sound of The London Snorkelling Team, you may want to look out for The Spaghetti Western Orchestra.