My name is Jaka Škapin and I'm a Slovenian transdisciplinary performance artist, composer and vocal improviser based in London.
My sound is marked by meditative and expansive vocal tapestries that emerge spontaneously from both my movement and voice, bearing the mark of my choral background, jazz training and Slavic heritage.
Whilst my influences range from the theatrical energy of Meredith Monk to performance innovation of Bobby McFerrin, I work between the mediums of performance, moving image and composition, all based on the practice of collaborative improvisation.
Image by Sara Hibbert
In 2014, I moved to the UK in order to study jazz voice, composition and musical direction at graduate level (Bmus) and creative entrepreneurship at postgraduate level (MA), both at the London College of Creative Media (then London Centre of Contemporary Music).
Soon after, I joined Danielle Jones’ Dancing with Parkinson’s as a musician, and later became the musical director of Luminelle and its Collective IDentity project, which features collaboration with dancers with Parkinson’s. We have since released an award winning documentary short film (best sound/music at the Toronto Experimental Film Festival, best dance film at LA Shorts Film Festival), as well as completed a national Arts Council England funded project which featured home visits and resulted in a touring gallery exhibition of new visual artwork as well as an improvised film portrait series.
I am also the co-creator of Bodies of Sound, an interdisciplinary arts project which combines improvised camera, movement and music in captivating locations. Our moving image pieces have recently been featured by the British Music Collection, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (One Minutes), Fieldnotes Journal and the Mayfair Art Weekend.
As a vocal improviser and composer, I am a part of Anthropos ensemble led by Guillermo Rozenthuler, a founding member of Yolk composers’ collective, as well as a producer and facilitator at the yearly UK Vocal Improv Festival Retreat.
As a performance artist, I have collaborated and performed across the UK and Europe, notably at Rome’s VokalFest, Nijmegen’s IFNL Vocal Improvisation Festival, as part of Codarts’ Rotterdam Vocal Leadership Festival, London’s European Poetry Festival and Voila! Europe Theatre Festival.
In March 2023 I completed the Sound and Music’s New Voices composer development programme, as part of which I’ve premiered a PRS Foundation funded solo theatre performance E - man - A, which combines live vocal looping, video projection and autobiographical narrative in a ritual of understanding and challenging patriarchal masculinity from within.
If you would like to find out more about my journey within the music industry, choral training and facilitation background, please scroll towards the bottom of this page.
Gallery of images by Sara Hibbert
I grew up in Kozina, Slovenia, and later in Širje above Zidani Most. As a child, I frequently put up shows and performances, playing mostly pots and my beloved harmonica, which later on led to first experiences in theatre, children’s opera, musical and choral singing.
I started my professional music career in 2012 as the musical director and producer of Chillax Youth Choir, which brought together a group of friends that went on to collaborate with rapper Zlatko, perform at stadium concerts, and provide the music for national celebrations at the Slovenian parliament.
Right after my move to London, I joined the tenor section of the London Philharmonic Choir, with whom I have since performed regularly at the Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall, as well as internationally at venues such as Brussels’ Bozar and Paris’ Theatre des Champs Elysees. As an ensemble we mostly appear alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra and perform under conductors such as Mark Elder, Vladimir Jurowski, Nathalie Stutzmann, Iván Fischer and Christoph Eschenbach.
Around the same time, I was also a member of the BBC Proms Choir, Evoke Chamber Choir under Victoria Ely (which competed at the Arezzo International Polyphonic Competition), Tenso Europe Chamber Choir (which toured Europe under Paul Hillier and Karpars Putniņš), received choral conductor training as part of Oxford based Voces Academy under Peter Hanke and written original music for the Slovenian feminist female choir Kombinat.
While studying at LCCM, I moved away from my personal musical and creative expression and became interested in artist development - at some point even founding a independent music label with fellow European migrants and being part of The Rattle London community. I supported releases such as The Improvisers’ Choir Landmass, produced Briony Greenhill’s live and improvised performance at an XR protest, and managed numerous artist rebrands, including strategic planning, content/music production and website design.
From 2017 till 2021 I was the general manager of Sans Soucis, who is now signed to Decca (Universal), is a Spotify RADAR artist and has over a million and a half streams on their currently most popular track Visible which was released during our time together. As part of our collaboration, we also supported the music programme at the Mthunzi Centre in Lusaka Zambia during yearly visits which focussed on developing songwriting and performance skills, as well as fostering cross-cultural collaboration and exchange.
Over the last decade, I also honed my skills as a group music facilitator as part of projects ranging from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Academy, being a participating choir director for Peter Liversidge’s The Bridge, a choral piece performed in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, being part of Royal Opera House’s Arts 4 Dementia programme and Jewish Care’s Dance For Life programme, which features voice and movement improvisation.
This started my return towards artistry, which exploded once I stumbled across vocal improvisation as practiced and championed by Bobby McFerrin and Rhiannon through Briony Greenhill in 2019. I dived straight in and never looked back, making collaborative improvisation the basis of my work and artistic inquiry.