Bicep are a Northern Irish duo comprising Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar. The childhood friends started a blog called Feel My Bicep, which posted a selection of classic and lost dance tracks. After moving to London they transformed from trusted taste-makers to an electronic music production and DJ act. This song is the lead single from their second album, Isles.
Bicep based "Apricots" around a sample of traditional Malawian singers recorded and released by the English ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey. McBriar explained to Apple Music that the song began as an instrumental ambient piece, which sat on the pair's hard drive for a year before they considered some vocals. One day, they discovered a released album, Beating Heart - Malawi, which contained a track titled "Gebede-Gebede Ulendo Wasabwera."
"The vocals and polyrhythms of 'Gebede-Gebede Ulendo Wasabwera' stood out," he explained. "They were captivating. We pitched snippets of them to our strings before building the rest of the track around them."
Hugh Tracey (January 29, 1903 – October 23, 1977) and his wife made over 35,000 recordings of African folk music. They collected and archived the music during multiple recording tours throughout Southern and Central Africa during the mid-20th century.
"Gebede-Gebede Ulendo Wasabwera" was originally included on the 1958 album Topical Songs and Several Chitsukulumbe Dances by the Nyanja-speaking Mang'anja.
"Apricot" also includes a sample from the 1975 Bulgarian folk album Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares. McBriar explained: "We connected with the mysterious chanting, and felt like it had parallels to the Celtic folk we grew up hearing."
Recorded by Bicep over a two-year period, Isles reached #2 on the UK albums chart.