F-IRE, in its prehistory, began as a workshop in 1995 in which a group of young musicians met to learn West African dance music, its theory and methods of communication. They applied these techniques and knowledge to their own compositional and improvisational languages. Timeline was one of the first bands to arise from this workshop.
Barak Schmool, bandleader of Timeline, started the whole affair. He was a member of Django Bates' Delightful Precipice and had grown up musically inside the fertile environment around Loose Tubes. As a regular teacher at City University and Royal Academy of Music, it was his experimental pro-community bands Akwaaba drum orchestra, Méta Méta and Rhythms of the City that were part of the attractive force that pulled people together to form F-IRE.
Those joining him in these initial creative explorations included Eska Mtungwazi, Robert Mitchell, Tom Skinner, Iian Pattinson, Nick Ramm, Tom Herbert, Leo Taylor and David Okumu. Others were drawn to F-IRE for a verity of reasons; Ingrid Laubrock, Ben Davis and Jonny Phillips through their interest in studying African rhythms; Maurizio Ravalico and Finn Peters through their involvement in the Afro-Cuban Music of Méta Méta; Pete Wareham and Seb Rochford through their connection with Tom Herbert; Justin Quinn, Tom Arthurs and Jonathan Bratoëff through their involvement with F-IRE jazz workshops led by Stéphane Payen and Julia Biel through her songwriting partnership with Jonny Phillips.
F-IRE (Fellowship for Integrated Rhythmic Expression) was named later in 1998 and came to encompass a community of artists whose outlook stretched beyond 'music alone'. Dance, poetry, film and other modes of creative expression were as much a part of their artisitc conception as the sound they produced. F-IRE members cultivate their own directions and thereby transcend the categorical boundaries that can stifle creativity. Whether involving circus or electronica, free-improv or classical composition their voices are distinct and alive with the spirit of freedom.
F-IRE has 3 main communal objectives: to sustain the creative lives of their members and the surrounding community; to ensure that their creativity functions well inside the wider community; to share their knowledge and opportunities.
The collective's success is built on the quality of its work in education, performance and recording. Untill 2005 these 3 principal spheres of activity proceeded without funding.
The success of the F-IRE concept was affirmed in July 2004 when it was awarded the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation. Furthermore, all musicians nominated within the 'Rising Star' category were members of F-IRE. In 2005 the F-IRE Collective was awarded the CMN for a national tour, the highest level of government-funded support for creative musicians.