Interview: The Underscore Orkestra (USA)

The Underscore Orkestra
Image Courtesy of The Underscore Orkestra

The Underscore Orkestra (Portland, Oregon, USA) are on tour in Australia, bringing their eclectic brand of gypsy, Balkan and swing music to the far south. At their gig at The Phoenix Bar in Canberra on Saturday, Bill Quinn (Overheard Productions) caught up with multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jorge Kachmari – but only on the proviso that Jorge could keep preparing the merch for the night while he talked!

[Link to the audio of this interview appears at the end of this article]

Bill Quinn: Jorge, tell me about this merchandise which the listeners can’t see, but paint us a word picture!

Jorge Kachmari: It’s called “Uncle Jerry’s Magnificently Malicious Moustache Wax”. It’s our very own brand of moustache wax that we make. It’s made of only the finest natural ingredients: Castile soap, beeswax, essential oils, and just a little bit of magic in every single batch!

BQ: Is this an essential part of the gypsy musician’s make-up?

JK: I can’t speak for anybody but myself, but it is certainly a big part of our show. I use the moustache wax as well, and it’s good stuff. It’s a fun little addition to our merchandise.

We also have music boxes over here that have one of our songs on them. So thanks to our friends in China, we get a factory there to make these wonderful little music boxes.

BQ: Wonderful! You’ve been in the country for a while; how’s the tour been going?

JK: It’s been going really good. We started off on New Year’s Eve at Peat’s Ridge, and that was amazing. We’ve also ended up with large amounts of nude Australians, twice in a fortnight and…

BQ: “Nude” Australians?!

JK: Yes, just last night we ended up with about 50 or 60 Australians in a little tide pool, everybody with their clothes off right after our show. And the very first night that we showed up at Peat’s Ridge, there was a nude disco right after our show.

So we’ve had a pretty good experience with the Australian way of life!

BQ: I don’t know if The Phoenix in Canberra is ready for nude dancing – I could be wrong!

Talking about this style of music, Australia seems to be having an extended love affair [with gypsy and Balkan music]. Is it the same back in America?

JK: Yeah, I think so. We’ve been doing it for the last seven or eight years. We’re continuing to do it regardless of what’s happening, but I think there’s a lot of people that really enjoy this style of music.

I’ll be honest; we don’t do it just because people love it. We do it because we love it and it makes people happy, so I’m excited it’s getting lots of good press with lots of different people.

BQ: And it’s taken you around the world.

JK: Yeah, we’ve been touring all around. It’s our first time to Australia, but we’re also going to New Zealand on this tour. We go to Europe every year and we’ve been all over the United States, Central America, Canada. So we’re trying to make our rounds!

BQ: And heading towards the Illawarra Folk Festival as well?

JK: Yes, we are going to the Illawarra Folk Festival. We’ll be playing every day of the festival, so it should be super fun.

I’m excited!

BQ: Jorge, thanks for your time.

JK: Yeah, cheers mate. Thanks.

Full list of remaining tour dates for The Underscore Orkestra:

Tuesday 15th January – The Valve Bar, Sydney, NSW
17th to 20th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW
Tuesday 22nd January – Bendigo Hotel, Collingwood, Vic
Wednesday 23rd January – Toff in Town, Melbourne, Vic
25th to 26th January – Numeralla Folk Festival, NSW
Sunday 27th January – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW
1st to 6th February – Luminate Festival, NZ
Saturday 23rd February – The Wine Cellar, Auckland, NZ
1st to 4th March – Nannup Festival, WA
Friday 8th March – Clancy’s Fish Pub, Fremantle, WA
Friday 15th March – The Upfront Club, Maleny, Qld
Friday 22nd March – MoFo, The Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW


  1. January 18, 2013 at 15:32

    […] “We started off on New Year’s Eve at Peat’s Ridge, and that was amazing. We’ve also ended up with large amounts of nude Australians, twice in a fortnight” – Jorge Kachmari from The Underscore Orkestra chats to Bill Quinn. Interview here […]

  2. March 11, 2013 at 10:09

    […] And check out Bill Quinn’s interview with The Underscore Orkestra for Timber and Steel here. […]

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