The seventh in the Ping Pong Orchestra album series see’s multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee go global. This is the soundtrack to places Lee has been, and would like to visit, and was made using instruments he’s picked-up along the way. Miles of Styles is inspired by the multi-cultural mix of people in his hometown of London, the awe inspiring metropolis that is New York City, and by the mysterious uber-stylish vibe of Tokyo. Not to mention Jamaica, Finland, Greece, China, France and beyond…
While Lee likes to visit new places he admits that it’s not always possible or even enjoyable, “I like to be in other countries - it's just the getting there that's a drag!” he says. So as with his previous cinematic-style albums Miles of Styles is intended to take the listener on a journey, even if they’re just riding the bus home after work, iPod on. In addition to incorporating a multitude of styles, Lee also made Miles of Styles a family affair. His Indian wife, Kirin, sings on the opening “Punjabi Lullaby,” and is also responsible for Lee owning so many Indian instruments. In addition his daughter hummed the melody for the song that would become “Mela D”, and makes a cameo appearance on “My Daddy’s Funky.”
To put some “world” into his music Lee managed to play the Gu-zheng (a Chinese zither), a Steel Drum (from the Caribbean), a Balafone (from Africa), a Harmonium and Tablas (India), Hurdy Gurdy and Harpsichord (European), a Guitarron (Mexico), a Churango (Bolivia) and a Waterphone (from the USA.) “I've always collected traditional folk instruments from around the world. I love taking them out of their traditional element and putting them into a different context. Mixing and creating interesting doubles such as steel drum with Balafone or Sitar with Banjo,” explains Lee. “I love when sounds become mysterious and are hard to decipher. Sometimes people laugh at me when I buy certain instruments. Steel drum was one that a lot of musicians scoffed at. I ended up using it prominently in a various ways on the album,” he adds.
Following on the success of Voices and Choices (from which “Kiss The Sky” was picked as an iTunes “Song Of The Day”, and was used on the TV show Damages) and his previous albums (three tunes from which were recently used in each of the three trailers for the Oceans 13 movie) Lee also released two other albums in 2007 (the covers album Hits The Hits, and the Christmas Album A Very Ping Pong Christmas.) Lee’s music is used in the upcoming movie The Bank Job and he’s had tunes appear in ads for Jaguar cars.
Lee’s sound, which started as a take on old-school library albums and has grown into a sound of his own, is made possible by his inability to stop making music in an insanely overpopulated studio. A 1940's early proto-synth called a Clavioline, a 100 year old Marxophone zither, a 1950's Virginal Harpsichord, a 1950's Xylophone, a rare 1967 Vox guitar that has Fuzz, Tremelo and wah-wah built in, a 1930's Double Bass and an early 1900's keyboard called a Dulcetone all reside within the walls of Lee’s facilities. As a multi-instrumentalist and singer Shawn Lee has played and recorded with a diverse range of artists including Psapp, Coldcut, Leeann Rhimes, Martina Mcbride, UNKLE, Tony Joe White, Chateau Flight, The Dust Brothers, St. Etienne, Jeff Buckley, Bomb the Bass, The Spice Girls, and Natasha Atlas not to mention solo records for Talkin Loud, Wall of Sound imprint We Love You and BBE.