William Orbit

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William Orbit
Birth name William Mark Wainwright
Also known as William Orbit
Born (1956-12-15) 15 December 1956 (age 59)
Origin Shoreditch, Hackney, London, England
Genres Electronica, trip hop, ambient, trance, house, downtempo, IDM, pop, orchestral
Occupation(s) Composer, record producer, artist
Instruments Keyboards, guitar, percussion
Years active 1982–present
Labels IRS, EMI, Virgin, N-GRAM, Maverick, Sanctuary, Kobalt, Decca, Warner Bros., Guerilla Records.
Associated acts Torch Song, Bassomatic, Madonna, Strange Cargo
Website www.williamorbit.com

William Orbit (born William Mark Wainwright, 15 December 1956) is an English musician, composer and record producer who has sold 200 million recordings worldwide of his own work and his production and songwriting work, and is the recipient of multiple Grammys, Ivor Novello awards and other music industry awards.

Productions and remixes[edit]

Later collaborations and productions included U2, Britney Spears, Pink, Katie Melua’s album ‘'The House'’, Madonna, No Doubt, Ricky Martin, Beth Orton, Sarah McLachlan, Queen, The Joy Formidable, Robbie Williams, All Saints and Sugababes. When working with Beck, the two of them wrote a song for Pink, "Feel Good Time," which Orbit then produced for the soundtrack for the film Charlie's Angels.

He produced the album 13 by Britpop group Blur, in London and Reykjavic, Iceland.


William had created remixes for Madonna previously such as "Justify My Love" and "Erotica" but he didn't meet her personally until 1997. That summer and fall they wrote together and produced her multi-Grammy/award-winning seventh album Ray of Light. The album took four months to record and it was the longest she ever spent recording an album. It was released on February 22, 1998.

In 2000, Orbit continued his songwriting for Madonna's 2000 album Music recorded at The Hit Factory in New York and also co-wrote and performed the song "Beautiful Stranger". The two joined up again for her 2012 album MDNA, co-writing and producing six of the tracks on the album. "Masterpiece" won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song in the Miramax movie "W.E.", at the 69th Golden Globe Awards.

Classical work[edit]

Inspired and encouraged by head of Warners, Rob Dickins, his first commercial release in this genre was Pieces in a Modern Style. It was originally released in May 1995 on Orbit’s N-Gram Recordings label, and then again in 2000 by Warner Music in the UK and Europe, and on Maverick in the U.S. The album reached No 2 in the UK album charts. The first single release from the album was ‘Barber’s Adagio for Strings’, and a dance remix of the track by Dutch deejay Ferry Corsten was hugely successful. The single reached number 4[1][2] in the national singles chart. A follow up album, ′Pieces in a Modern Style 2′ came out in 2010, and was released as a two-disc set on the Decca label. He worked with German countertenor Andreas Scholl[3] on an interpretation of Henry Purcell’s Dido’s Lament which was featured on the album.

In 2007 he took part in Alex Poots’ Manchester International Festival, and composed a symphonic work in nine movements ‘Orchestral Suite’ which was performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, augmented by additional harps, pianos and percussion, and with The Manchester Chorale, conducted by Alexander Shelley at Bridgewater Hall.[4]

Live performance/media/DJ work[edit]

During the N'Gram period, he directed a showcase of the label at Queen Elizabeth Hall[5] on London's Southbank. The acts included Caroline Lavelle, The Electric Chamber (which performed the Pieces album) Strange Cargo, and Torch Song. Orbit included a range of power tools and axle grinders as part of the musical ensemble.

In 2001 he took part in the Stockhausen Electronic Festival[6] at the The Barbican Theatre.

In 2013 he took part in the London Electronic Arts Festival[7] in Shoreditch, curated by Rob Da Bank and Ben Turner, in a lecture and multimedia music performance. The event was highlighted by the presentation of the 'Gogobot' a collaboration between himself and friend Rico Conning. The device is an cybernetic drum robot constructed from low tech components such as car lock actuators and signal relays, controlled by their own software. This is a venture that the two continue to develop in California.

He participated in the Liberatum International Cultural Festival[8] in Russia, during which he performed in Moscow and Novosibirsk, Siberia, and gave lectures. He subsequently joined the Liberatum International Cultural Festival in Hong Kong where he conducted a joint talk on stage with Pharrell Williams. He spent time with the writer V S Naipaul, whom he has interviewed in the past for the BBC, and his wife Nadira, on a tour of Hong Kong night spots, a challenge for them due to Sir Videa’s wheelchair and the stairs and elevators of the high-rise venues, but of significant cultural interest to all three. William also introduced Nadira Naipaul to Pharrell Williams as he was aware of Pharrell’s deep interest in the writings of Jiddu Krishnamurti and that Nadira Naipaul had known him personally.

More recently Orbit has deejayed at various clubs in London and Ibiza and at Buckingham Palace[9] for Her Majesty The Queen’s annual staff and family Christmas party.

Recent activity[edit]

In 2013 William worked with Britney Spears and Will.i.am on her album ‘Britney Jean’, with fellow songwriters Ana Diaz and Dan Traynor with whom he wrote and produced the track ‘Alien’. He was a writer and producer on the Chris Brown song "Don't Wake Me Up" which was recorded at Record Plant in LA and for which he received an ASCAP[10] award in 2013. The song has had 165 Million views on YouTube.[11] This was followed by a production of the Queen track, 'There Must Be More to Life Than This', which featured archive vocals by Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson. Orbit went on to produce another Queen song, 'Let Me In Your Heart Again'. In 2015 his composition ‘The Name of the Wave' was used in the Oscar winning documentary 'Amy', directed by Asif Kapadia. [12]

He has recently performed in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and at a gala at Banqueting House in London’s Whitehall for the charity ‘Together For Short Lives’, a group that sponsors and supports children with terminal illness and their families.[13]


William Orbit discography
Studio albums 15
Compilation albums 3
Singles 9

More details and information about his discography can be found when exploring external links


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions
1987 Orbit
Strange Cargo
  • Labels: I.R.S.
1990 Strange Cargo II
  • Labels: I.R.S.
1993 Strange Cargo III
1995 Strange Cargo Hinterland - - -
1999 Pieces in a Modern Style [A]
  • Labels: N-GRAM Recordings (1995 release), WEA (2000 release)
2 33 198
2006 Hello Waveforms 136
2009 My Oracle Lives Uptown [B]
  • Labels: Kobalt
2010 Pieces in a Modern Style 2 [C] 185
2014 Orbit Symphonic [D]
  • Labels: –
Strange Cargo 5 [D]
  • Labels: –
  • A^ The original 1995 release was credited to the Orbit alias 'The Electric Chamber', but was withdrawn from sale almost immediately. Re-released in 2000 with additional tracks taking the place of un-cleared tracks from the first release.
  • B^ CD release has 4 additional tracks which are not available as a digital download
  • C^ Released on single CD and double CD including notable remixes, and a digital version with a bonus track
  • D^ Available for free download from SoundCloud [17][18]


  • The Best of Strange Cargos (1996, I.R.S.) – A compilation from Orbit's first three Strange Cargo albums, highlighted by two versions of "Water From A Vine Leaf", another collaboration with Beth Orton
  • Strange Cargo Vol.1–3 (2000, EMI Records) – 3-CD Box Set
  • William / Orbit (2002, Universal) – U.S. two-disc publishing CD set to support William Orbit's publishing catalogue[19]


Year Single Chart positions Album
1987 "Feel Like Jumping" Orbit
"Love My Way"
1993 "Water From A Vine Leaf" (William Orbit featuring Beth Orton) 59 Strange Cargo III
1999 "Barber's Adagio For Strings" 4 23 13 Pieces in a Modern Style
2000 "Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte" 31
2003 "Feel Good Time" (Pink featuring William Orbit) 3 7 8 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (OST)
"Dice" (Finley Quaye & William Orbit) Much More Than Much Love (Finley Quaye album)
2009 "Optical Illusions" My Oracle Lives Uptown
2010 "Nimrod" Pieces in a Modern Style 2


Year Album
1990 Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass
1991 Science & Melody
  • Labels: Virgin

Strange Cargo[edit]

Year Album
1995 Hinterland[21][22][23]
  • Labels: N-GRAM Recordings

Torch Song[edit]

Year Album
1984 Wish Thing
1986 Ecstasy
  • Labels: Y II Records
1987 Exhibit A
  • Labels: I.R.S.
1995 Toward the Unknown Region
  • Labels: N-GRAM Recordings

DNV 2012

Production and songwriting[edit]

Title Year Artist(s) Album Credit(s)
"24 Hours" 1990 Betty Boo Boomania
"Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil" 1993 Beth Orton Superpinkymandy
"Faith Will Carry"
"Yesterday's Gone"
"She Cries Your Name"
"When You Wake"
"Roll the Dice"
"City Blue"
"The Prisoner"
"Where Do You Go"
"Release Me"
"Turning Ground" 1995 Caroline Lavelle Spirit
"Moorlough Shore"
"Dream of Picasso"
"Forget the Few"
"Lagan Love"
"A Case of You"
"Waiting For Rain"
"The Island"
"Drowned World/Substitute for Love" 1998 Madonna Ray of Light
"Ray of Light"
"Candy Perfume Girl"
"Nothing Really Matters"
"Sky Fits Heaven"
"The Power of Good-Bye"
"To Have and Not to Hold"
"Mer Girl"
"Has to Be"
"Tender" 1999 Blur 13
"Coffee & TV"
"Swamp Song"
"Mellow Song"
"Trimm Trabb"
"No Distance Left to Run"
"Optigan 1"
"Be Careful (Cuidado Con Mi Corazón)" Ricky Martin and Madonna Ricky Martin
"Beautiful Stranger" Madonna Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
"Go!" Melanie C Northern Star
"American Pie" 2000 Madonna The Next Best Thing
"Time Stood Still"
"Runaway Lover" Music
"Pure Shores" All Saints Saints & Sinners
"Black Coffee"
"Making Out" 2001 No Doubt Rock Steady
"Thinking About Tomorrow" 2002 Beth Orton Daybreaker
"Electrical Storm" U2 The Best of 1990–2000
"The Hands That Built America" (Theme from 'Gangs of New York')
"Sweet Song" 2003 Blur Think Tank
"Feel Good Time" Pink Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
"Dice" 2004 Finley Quaye Much More Than Much Love
"Louise" 2006 Robbie Williams Rudebox
"I'd Love to Kill You" 2010 Katie Melua The House
"The Flood"
"A Happy Place"
"A Moment of Madness"
"Red Balloons"
"Tiny Alien"
"No Fear of Heights"
"The One I Love Is Gone"
"Plague of Love"
"God on the Drums, Devil on the Bass"
"The House"
"Unbroken" Nadine Coyle Insatiable
"Gang Bang" 2012 Madonna MDNA
"Some Girls"
"I'm a Sinner"
"Love Spent"
"Falling Free"
"Don't Wake Me Up" Chris Brown Fortune
"Alien" 2013 Britney Spears Britney Jean
"There Must Be More to Life Than This" 2014 Queen and Michael Jackson Queen Forever


  • Stereo Odyssey – 4-CDR set of KCRW radio show William produced circa 1996
  • Rare Orbit Vol.1 – A 3-CDR collection of rare & unreleased material & productions. 2008, source unknown. Contained unreleased sessions with Madonna, and some new material.
  • Essential Mix – 2-CDR set of UK BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix, 6 February 2000
  • XFM 2003 – 30-minute CDR of UK XFM Radio 'Superchunk', a mix/mashup collection of special rare and unreleased material, 17 August 2003
  • XFM 2006 – 30-minute CDR of UK XFM Radio 'Superchunk', another mix/mashup collection, 12 March 2006
  • World Odyssey Mix – 25-minute CDR of UK BBC Asia Network Radio 'Pathaans Musical Rickshaw', a diversified mix/mashup collection, 17 May 2009
  • KCRW 2009 – 40-minute CDR of Los Angeles KCRW Radio Station show 'Morning Becomes Eclectic', a two piece live session with Laurie Mayer and interviews with Jason Bentley – 2 July 2009
  • In 2010, some of the rare tracks were made public on www.orbitstreamcast.com.[24]
  • William Orbit Odyssey[25] by Ministry of Sound

‘Odyssey' is a compilation of 42 tracks, including some of William Orbit's own exclusives. The album was released in January 2010 and is divided into 3 discs; Discs 1 and 2 are unmixed, with many tracks reinterpreted to a greater or lesser extent, while Disc 3 is a continuous DJ mix by William Orbit.


  1. ^ a b c "Chart Stats: William Orbit". ChartStats.com. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  2. ^ UK Official Singles Charts "Official Singles Chart Top 100, 12th Dec 1999", [1]
  3. ^ Andreas Scholl Discography. "Andreas Scholl Discography", [2]
  4. ^ Financial Times. "Alluring echoes of Hoxton", ft.com/life & arts, June 22, 2007.
  5. ^ Performance: WILLIAM ORBIT Royal Festival Hall, London. "Performance: WILLIAM ORBIT Royal Festival Hall, London", 'Independent', Monday 24 July 1995.
  6. ^ The sound of discord. "William Orbit, who appears alongside Stockhausen in next month's Elektronic Festival ", 'The Guardian', 29th Sept 2001.
  7. ^ William Orbit confirmed for first London Electronic Arts Festival. "Georgio Moroder and William Orbit confirmed for first London Electronic Arts Festival", 'Indie London', Nov 2013.
  8. ^ Carrera Presents Liberatum Hong Kong International Festival of Culture. "Carrera Presents Liberatum Hong Kong International Festival of Culture", 'Lisa Baker Associates Limited', 22nd March 2012.
  9. ^ William Orbit at Buckingham Palace. "William Orbit played the national anthem at Buckingham Palace party", 'irishexaminer', Thursday, June 04, 2015.
  10. ^ ASCAP Awards. "ASCAP Awards 2013", 'ASCAP', 2013.
  11. ^ YouTube. "ASCAP Awards 2013", 'Chris Brown - Don't Wake Me Up', June 2012.
  12. ^ Amy (soundtrack). "Amy", 'Amy (soundtrack)', Oct 2015.
  13. ^ The midsummer ball. "Together for Short Lives’ Midsummer Ball", 'The Midsummer Ball', 3 June 2015.
  14. ^ Tobias Zywietz. "The Official Zobbel Homepage". Zobbel.de. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  15. ^ a b "Discography William Orbit". Australian-Charts.com. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  16. ^ "William Orbit > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  17. ^ "Orbit Symphonic". SoundCloud. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "Strange Cargo 5". SoundCloud. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  19. ^ Discogs.com
  20. ^ "William Orbit > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  21. ^ "Hinterland – William Orbit, Strange Cargo : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  22. ^ "Hinterland: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Strange Cargo Discography at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  24. ^ "Orbitstreamcast.com link". SoundCloud. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  25. ^ "Ministry of Sound "Odyssey"". williamorbit.com. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 

External links[edit]