Playlist: Across Continents with Total Bike Forever

Total Bike ForeverIn late 2017, like many of us, Adam Faulkner and Tim Stephens became frustrated with constantly having to juggle creative endeavours with office work. Unlike many of us, they decided to do something drastic and life-changing about it.

Fast forward to now and the duo is coming to the final leg of a bike journey which has so far taken them across four continents, through countless countries, and up and down their fair share of dusty tracks. While the end goal of Japan creeps up on them - with an ETA of March 2019 - Faulkner and Stephens are unlikely to forget about what's passed. That's not just because of the fantastic memories they must have accrued. They're also dedicated musicians, forming half of the London-based band Bear Muda back on home turf; and committed to their travelling music project, Total Bike Forever, while on the road.

Collaborating with other creatives along the way, Total Bike Forever has gained a wealth of musical recommendations over the past 9 months. Below, they take us through some highlights.

Total Bike Forever - Afghan Hound (live at Boxout FM, Delhi)

We played a radio show in Delhi that gave us the chance to premiere some of our music as live performances as well as talking listeners through the sounds and samples we’d collected and added to the songs. This song was inspired by a chance meeting with a warden in the Pamir Mountains who shared his music with us. It’s a live performance of the track so elements are improvised in the moment. It’s a style of performing that we’d not explored before this adventure but because of the number of gigs we’ve been asked to play coupled with the limitations of cycling everywhere and carrying your own equipment we’ve found it’s delivered some of the best versions of the tracks we’ve written.

Büyük Ev Ablukada - FIRTINAYT

We were lucky enough to record with an amazing drummer called Berkay in Turkey about two months into our trip. We ditched the bikes for a couple of days to drive into the remote hills of northeastern Turkey to record in two amazing locations. Berkay has some very talented friends that filmed the whole experience and are currently editing together a video of the days we spend together. We spend a happy few hours en route to the locations sharing music with Efe, one of Berkay’s friends.

Efe played this track to us and we instantly loved it. It’s by a Turkish indie disco outfit called Büyük Ev Ablukada. It reminded us of the music we’d listen to at home but with a Turkish twist that grabs your attention.

Kavya - Underscore

We played a gig in Delhi for Sofar Sounds. The night we played we were lucky enough to be on the same bill as Kavya Trehan and her musical partner on the night, Chaz. We loved their electronic pop set and this song is Kavya’s latest solo single. The distorted vocal sounds give it a very unique sound as well the almost over-the-top the bass at the end of the song. We had an impromptu collaboration on the night of our gig in Dehli with Kavya. We’re hoping to capture some of that collaboration for our final album which we’re very excited about.

Chamma Chamma - Alka Yagnik (from the movie China Gate)

The powerful musical culture of India is overwhelming. You can hear it everywhere you go from tannoys on the street to the hundreds of Bollywood channels on the TV. This track sticks out specifically as it has all the classic sounds and manoeuvres of many Bollywood tunes but interestingly has an electronic backing sound. The bassline is from a 303 synthesiser which is more commonly used in acid music and a lot of the drum sounds come from a 909 drum machine. This instantly drew us to this record as it’s in tune with what we’re trying to accomplish with our project.

The Yak Strut - Abhyu (feat. Yuvash)

We were in Kathmandu for almost two weeks and played 6 shows while we were there. Our final gig in the city was at a venue called Basecamp (not to be confused with the famous Everest Basecamp… A mistake we made for an instant when the gig was confirmed) in a part of town called Patan. We were supported by a collaboration of international artists including Yuvash, an amazing multi-instrumentalist from Nepal who features on this track. Well worth watching this video for the outstanding mountain locations it’s filmed in as well as the low key acoustic electronic sounds.

Fuzzscape - Hyolmo

Fuzzscape is a team of creative professionals who travel to explore the artistic culture and the society of different locations around Nepal. They collaborate with artists from within the communities they visit to develop a body of work inspired by their interaction with the people, space, and its culture.  We were lucky enough to be introduced to these guys in Kathmandu and spend an amazing afternoon in their studio chatting about our respective projects to an extremely nerdy level which we don’t often have the chance to do! It was inspiring to meet a group of people doing something similar to us and interesting to hear how our projects differed and overlapped. This track is from their second episode of five that are available and we’d definitely recommend watching all of them as well as listening to all their musical creations. Inspiring and original stuff.

Gar Zulfe Paraishanat - Ahmad Zahir

Tajikistan is a country in Central Asia that borders Afghanistan and is home to a cycling mekkah: The Pamir Highway. This road is high in the Pamir Mountains and traverses passes of up to 4600 metres above sea level, making it the second highest highway in the world. It’s as treacherous as it sounds and to ensure the safety of travellers there are wardens along the route checking passports and monitoring the location of intrepid cyclists like us. As we approached one of these wardens offices particularly close to the Afghan border we heard some music wafting from a car that was parked next to the small hut containing the warden. He was using his car as a hi-fi system and the music he was playing was Afghan pop music from the 70s which we instantly fell in love with. Luckily the music was playing from a USB stick jammed into his car radio (so 21st century!) and he was kind enough to allow us to copy the tracks to our laptop. We used a chopped up sample on one of these tracks in the song in this article, "Afghan Hound".

Throughout their journey, Total Bike Forever are also fundraising to support the Alzheimer's Society. Chip in here.

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