William Orbit: ‘I found my groove again working on Queen Forever’

Hit producer William Orbit reveals how he rediscovered his passion for music with Queen.

Having spent the bulk of his 27-year career as a producer working on the pop circuit with the likes of Madonna, Robbie Williams and All Saints, William Orbit lending his production talents to a new Queen album hardly seems like a natural fit.

“I know it’s not the sort of project people would normally associate me with as I’ve been on the pop circuit for many years now,” he told OfficialCharts.com, speaking from his studio in Los Angeles. “But if you knew me as a teenager, it would make sense. Jimi Hendrix and Queen were all I cared about back then. I was brought up on classical music, but after I discovered rock music through my friend’s older brother’s collection, I was hooked.”

The record, Queen Forever, is a compilation album that’s been highly anticipated by fans of the band. Amongst the 20-song tracklisting are what Brian May describes as “things that we have collected together that are representative of our growth rather than the big hits.” This includes their collaboration with Michael Jackson on There Must Be More To Life Than This and remix of Let Me In Your Heart Again, both of which were helmed by British producer.

“Without wanting to overuse the word ‘amazing’… it really was!” he said of working on the tracks. “Being a part of the album was a dream. The whole process was a joy, both musically and working with the guys. It coincided with a bit of a personal meltdown from so many years on the pop circuit, but they were very forgiving and gave me a lot of freedom on this project. I came into it full of enthusiasm and the whole process was a joy. I felt like I had found my groove again.”

With a highly dedicated global fanbase, William admits that he expected a divided response to his work on the tracks. “I know there’s been a polarizing reaction to it and of course that’s to be expected, but I’m really pleased with what we’ve done. The entire process was very organic. I’ve known Roger [Taylor] for about ten years as a friend, and he just said, ‘be William Orbit and do your thing!’ It was me Roger and Brian in the studio just getting into and enjoying the music.”

What’s more, he’s already been asked to work on Queen’s next project, which will include more previously unheard material. “They’ve asked me to work on more songs with me, so it can’t be all bad!” he reveals. “Queen are where my passion is at the moment and I have to say, I’m just in love with the music. I’m listening to proper bands again and I’m really into it. I didn’t even know what classic rock truly meant until it was explained to me recently.”

And his personal ultimate Queen song? “For me it’s We Are The Champions. It’s so simple that anyone can belt it out, but it's actually really complex underneath that. It’s subtle. It’s got this harmonic complexity to it that is neatly tucked away but never fully announces itself.

“You discover the complexity in Queen’s music when you’re ready,” he concludes. “You can start off loving it as a thing to belt out, but when you’re ready there’s so much richness to be explored. My other favourite is Let Me In Your Heart Again. The last chorus - that last minute and a half fade out when Freddie and the band are there – it’s just brilliant. Queen’s songwriting, Freddie Mercury’s production and the weight of their music is all just so effortless. The whole sound gives me a real thrill and I can't wait to get stuck in again.”

Queen Forever is out now.