Ten years is a long time for any artist to go between album releases. For Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED), it might as well have been a lifetime. In the reflective songwriting that characterizes his 2022 effort When The Lights Go, you can feel the peaks and valleys of a long personal journal that unfolded since his debut 2012 offering, Trouble.
Make no mistake: Orlando Tobias Edward Higginbottom owes much of his early success as TEED to a sound signature that set him apart from the herd. His recent output doubles down on that which differentiates him even more. Shedding what cliches may still have remained, songs like “The Sleeper” and “Blood in the Snow” prove him capable of fusing introspective songwriting with sound design that still makes a strong impact on the dancefloor.
Born in Oxford, England, Orlando was classically trained in music from an early age. He uploaded his first electronic music demos to MySpace in 2007. In conversation with SPIN, he recalled adopting the moniker Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs after trying to come up with “something that couldn’t be cool, couldn’t be put into some kind of scene that gets hip for six months and then falls out of fashion.”
From 2009-2010, the earliest TEED releases arrived by way of Hot Chip’s label, Greco-Roman—quirky, synthy electro house offerings titled All In One Sixty Dancehalls and Household Goods EP. When Trouble dropped on Polydor in 2012, Orlando’s style had come into its own. Celebrated as much for his eccentric verses as he was for the understated sonic elements with which they were framed, he found himself performing at nightclubs and festival stages across Europe, the U.S., and beyond.
The years afterward proved difficult for Orlando, however. Disillusioned by the grim realities of the recording industry, he didn’t release any music for a period of three years from 2015-2018. After breaking the hiatus, he set out on a path marked by renewed authenticity that still informs his creative process in present day.
In 2020 Orlando released I Can Hear the Birds, an ambient EP whose songs were made using field recordings of various birdcalls. The same year, he collaborated with house music luminary Bonobo on the disco-tinged “Heartbreak”—a track that would earn him a Grammy nomination in the category of “Best Dance/Electronic Record.”
Newly sober and living in Los Angeles, he got to work writing what would become When The Lights Go. The album offers more than a snapshot of his current artistic musings. It speaks to a clear upward trajectory from where he stood a decade prior, and a new beginning that sparks excitement for what's to ocme in his growing fan base.
More inspired and focused than ever before, TEED has turned the page on a second chapter that beckons a new generation of music lovers to follow along with his inspiring story. One thing is clear from what he’s accomplished up to now: Each subsequent release will see him further refine his approach to deliver a singular artistic statement.