My name is Jaka Škapin and I'm a Slovenian transdisciplinary 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.
Let's take it back to the beginning
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 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.
In 2014, I moved to the UK in order to study songwriting, 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.
During my second month in London, I also 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, mostly alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra and under conductors such as Mark Elder, Vladimir Jurowski, Nathalie Stutzmann, Iván Fischer and Christoph Eschenbach.
In 2016, I was also part of the Tenso Europe Chamber Choir project which toured Europe under Paul Hillier and Karpars Putniņš.
During my degree, I moved away from my own musical and creative expression and became interested in artist development - at some point even founding an independent music label with fellow European migrants. There seemed to be a strong block between me and my creative self, so I rather focussed on the music of others, which I enjoyed and admired deeply. I supported releases such as The Improvisers’ Choir Land Mass and held numerous artist rebrands, including strategic planning, content/music production and website design. You can read more about my past creative consultancy work here.
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 most popular track which we released during our time together.
During this period, I also developed my skills as a music producer and facilitator. I was part of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Academy, a participating choir director for The Bridge, a choral piece performed in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, and part of Royal Opera House’s Arts 4 Dementia programme. In 2016, I met my longstanding collaborator Danielle Jones and joined Dancing with Parkinson’s as a musician, and later became the musical director of Luminelle and its Collective IDentity project, under whom we have since released an award winning documentary short a place we go, together. You can read more about my community experience here.
This started my return towards artistry, which exploded once I stumbled across vocal improvisation as 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. You can read more about my vocal improvisation journey here.
During the pandemic, I was able to develop my artistic approach with the support of Help Musicians Transmission fund, Arts Council England Sustaining Creativity grant, a Sound and Music Composer Award, and a British Music Collection Interpreting Isolation commission.
This lead to the launch of Bodies of Sound, an interdisciplinary experimental arts project that combines improvised voice, movement and camera and brings together professional movers and sound/music makers in intriguing locations.
In 2021, I have self-released Remembering, a fully collaboratively improvised a cappella album alongside some of my favourite singers and presented it through a series of online and in-person events. The album was described by Backseat Mafia as a delectable, original and evocative kaleidoscope of soul-baring stories.
Since then, my work has been featured by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (One Minutes), Fieldnotes Journal, European Poetry Festival and Mayfair Art Weekend.
I’m currently part of Sound and Music’s New Voices 2021 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.
Download Full CV
November 10 - E - man - A at Voila! Europe (premiere) - The Cockpit, London, UK
October 25 - Fieldnotes Sessions Episode 3 - Under (Bodies of Sound) - online
October 19-23 - UK Vocal Improv Festival Retreat - Bristol, UK
October 14 - Rhiannon in concert - Ha Lau Leo Nani, Hakalau, Hawaii
September 21 - Arts & Health Artist Peer Group - Southbank Centre, London, UK
September 7-11 - Unlimited Festival On Black Pain screening - Southbank Centre, London, UK
August 1-7 - Summer Studios Residency - Sage Gateshead Newcastle, UK
July 21-24 - Liberty Festival: Who We Are exhibition screening of Follow Me - Lewisham Arthouse, London, UK
July 10 - Lazio Sound Festival: Vokalfest 2022 - Castello di Santa Severa, Rome, ITA
July 2 - Ageless Festival screening of A Place We Go Together - Leeds, UK
June 18 - European Poetry Festival: An improvised duo collaboration with André Naffis-Sahely - Rich Mix London, UK
May 23-27 - Migrants in Theatre residency - New Diorama Theatre Broadgate, London, UK
May 22 - Anthropos: Songs of Humanity EP launch performance - Open House Hackney, London, UK
May 19th - Runt of the Litter: Our Eyes/Naše Oči Solo Performance - Oslo House, London, UK
May 8 - IFNL Festival Improvised duo a cappella performance with Guillermo Rozenthuler - Nijmegen, NL
April 28-29 - Cheltenham Jazz Festival Jerwood Jazz Encounters Creative Lab 2022
April 21 - Runt of the Litter: Film screening of Hetneya, Sandoneyo and A Sound that Triggered - Oslo House, London, UK
Dec 13 - Slovenian Rhapsody: Slovenian Embassy in London celebrating the 30th anniversary of Slovenian statehood -St. John’s Smith Square, London, UK
Dec 10 - Anthropos: Songs of Humanity performance - Bickerton House, London, UK
Nov 27 - European Poetry Festival: An improvised duo collaboration with Xelis de Toro - Iclectik Artlab, London, UK
November 15 - Theatre in the Pound at Voila Festival: Our Eyes/Naše Oči improvised solo voice performance - Cockpit Theatre, London, UK
October 1 - Friday Sessions improvised voice/poetry duo performance with The Repeat Beat Poet - Poplar Union, London, UK
July 2 - Remembering: Six voice improvised a cappella album watch party - online
June 27 - Mayfair Art Weekend The Inner Child screening - London, UK
May 18 - Connect: Resound Remote Music Learning Festival presentation - online
May 14 - Live in the Library: Jaka Škapin & Friends - Poplar Union, London, UK
May 1 - The Daily 10&6: Beltane, Slavic Mythology and vocal improvisation - online
April 23 - Vocal Leadership Spring Festival improvised quartet performance - online
March 21 - Norwich Fringe solo improvised performance - online
March 19 - Tramshed’s Generator: An improvised duo performance with Cherilyn Albert - online
December 21-27 The Humanoids Exhibition - The Inner Child (Bodies of Sound) - The Holy Art - online
December 11-16 The Metamorphosis Exhibition - Perspective (Bodies of Sound) - The Holy Art - online
August 20 - Outside in Arts Festival: Collaborative Vocal Improvisation in 2020 - online