Bioni Samp is a pseudonym of a British beekeeper and musician. He combined his two greatest passions in a unique way and records the frequencies of his bees and uses them to create original electronic music. The man from London does not make music just for the sake of making music, he has a higher goal in mind.
Samp does this to raise awareness about colony collapse disorder (CDC). This is a plague that has wiped out millions of hives worldwide since 2006. Billions of bees are killed by CDC every year and this is not taking into account the effect of climate change and pesticide poisoning. He chose this unique way to raise awareness so people actually pay attention to it.
“If I went around with a Greenpeace badge on and started shouting about deforestation, people quickly tire of that, it doesn’t really connect with people,” Samp told Motherboard. “So I worked around the idea of presenting something that’s got an underlying ecological message, but it’s put over in a way which interest geeks and people interested in electronic music and computing.”
Samp has been an apiarian enthusiast ever since he was a boy but it was only some years ago that he could use bees not just for pollinating plants and producing honey but making his own brand of music. He began recording his songs by analyzing the frequencies of the hive when the queen communicates with the hive and made his electronic compositions using those frequencies.
Samp spent ten years from 2006-2016 inventing the Hive Synthesizer “an ever-expanding, modular synthesiser made from recycled electrical components, that emulates ‘bee sounds’ and uses honey as an organic electrical resistor”.
Samp’s music has been featured at environmentally-conscious festivals and art galleries throughout Europe and even in Canada. His performance suit is the classic beekeeper suit. He uses symbolic setups during his performances. He relies on numerology when creating his music sometimes.
“You can put a tray in a beehive with a kind of graph pattern on and then look at how many Varroa mites have fallen through the mesh floor onto this sheet of paper,” Samp explains. “You can use the kind of numerology to make sounds…I put in numbers like how long it’s been since the queen laid some eggs and some drones appeared in the hive. I started typing all these numbers in, and I have music being created.”
The beekeeper was featured in the BBC mini-documentary, The Resistance of Honey. This was nominated for best VR Sound Design Experience by the Raindance Film Festival. You can see it in the video below:
The same documentary was rejected by another film festival which Samp said had to do with the pesticide companies sponsoring the event. A few months later, it was rejected by yet another festival and it was later discovered that it was being sponsored by the same pesticide company.
“They didn’t want people learning about me and my anti-pesticide stance, my anti-GM crop stance…it’s a form of censorship,” Samp told Motherboard. “When I started beekeeping many, many years ago, I didn’t realize it’d be so political by now.”
Samp does not focus on the negative and continues to do what he loves. He is almost done with a new album and continues to inspire. You can hear him performing live here: