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Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Monday 24th June, 2013 7:25AM

oOoOO is a witch house artists from San Francisco who will release his debut full length album, Without Your Love, next week. To celebrate he's heading to New Zealand for two shows this weekend and bringing DJ Butterclock along for the ride. UTR caught up with oOoOO A.K.A Chris Dexter to discuss how he got into music in the first place, what the new album is about and how he feels about being described as a leader of a music genre.

Without Your Love is streaming in its entirety. Head over here to have a listen.

oOoOO and Butterclock play in Wellington and Auckland this weekend. Head over here for more information on the shows and to purchase tickets.

I'm interested in your early days as a musician. Tell me about growing up musically and then starting the project oOoOO.

My mom has a picture of me playing on this tiny Sears drum kit when I was 3. It had these ridiculous paper drum heads. It was meant more for show, I think. Its weird to see because I have no memory that far back. Its weird because no one in my family played music or encouraged me to start. I asked for the drum kit. I was playing guitar by the time I was 5 and played violin all through school. Maybe around 13, I got really into rap. And that was my way into "electronic" music. That was the 90s. But it would be years before I made my own beats and stuff. My family was pretty poor. I had to wait until software electronics were piratable. And I didn't really know people who made electronic music, so I didn't know what to get and this was back when there wasn't much on the internet. It seemed expensive to get into. Samplers, drum machines…all that. So I had to wait for shit to get cheap or free. But making music on a computer, alone, in a reflective state of mid really changed my approach to music. It was no longer a spontaneous, social thing. It became more like (I imagine) how writers or painters approach their art. A solitary and introspective sort of experience.

How did you develop the sound you have today as oOoOO?

The sound developed through the process of learning to make music on a computer. Since I started kinda late, electronic music is almost like a second language in a way. I was already a "musician", but this was a new approach. The oOoOO sound maybe is like my particular accent.

What would you describe as your major sonic influences on the oOoOO project?

All over the place. I'm as influenced by film soundtracks as I am by other music. And city sounds. On and off throughout 2011-12 I stayed at an apartment in a certain European city, where just outside my window, I could hear the sound of a street tram turning sharply on the rails at a corner. I could listen to that one particular sound forever. Its as beautiful as the sea to me. I loved this apartment largely because of that sound. Late at night in bed in the dark, I'd be lost in thought or falling off to sleep, and the sound of that tram would pull me back to reality and I would get this deep feeling of satisfaction and comfort. I feel pretentious saying stuff like this, but fuck it, its the truth. LaMonte Young says he was influenced by the sound of electrical substations. Some people are feeling that sort of thing.

You also have a very strict visual aesthetic: tell me about the importance of the visual in your work, where the inspiration for it comes from and how you see the visual and the sonic as interconnected?

Maybe it's because film is a big influence on me and the sounds I use, so images become important to the music. Visuals and sounds obviously enhance one another's emotional power. I'm much better at making sounds, but to the extent that I can do things with visuals, I do.

oOoOO is part of a genre described by the music media as witch house. How do you feel about this term?

It feels really cynical and pointless, all of the sub genre generation that goes on in music writing. Classification is often used as a cheap substitute for having anything insightful to say about the music being discussed. Its rare when I hear a discussion of music that leans heavily on genre that has anything interesting to add to the music itself. And worse, it seems like a branding exercise imposed on artists from the outside. If some kids relate to it though, that is fine with me. I mean if kids genuinely get something out of that term or identity, that is cool for them. It just seems mostly to be an empty and pointless when I read about on the internet.

Tell me about living in San Francisco as a creative: a lot of bands I've interviewed recently are saying it's getting debilitatingly expensive and people are moving to the likes of Portland or Oakland. Is this affecting the creative community there?

San Francisco has a reputation as a creative city of freaks. But that's based on some very old news. The San Francisco poetry renaissance of the 50s; the hippie culture of the 60s; the gay activism of the 70s; punk from the 80s. Since the dot com boom of the 90s, San Francisco has been transformed into an urban office park full of dull systems analysts and venture capitalists looking to invest in the next big, pointless and idiotic "start up." The infusion of money has forced just about everyone interesting out of the city. Its a city full of rich, mostly white people with a bland, suburban mindset waiting in long lines for organic, $13 ice cream cones. Its about the least edgy place imaginable. Its actually horribly sad what's happened to it and is a perfect example of how the mindset of economic growth for its own sake is ruinous to everything that is beautiful about what humans are capable of. Its a city full of rich people and the poor people that clean up after them.

I somehow manage to have a cheap apartment so I stay. But I never go out. Its too depressing being reminded at every turn what has been destroyed.

You're about to release Without Your Love your first full length album. Tell me about writing and recording this one.

Made it mostly in the last few months of 2012 and early 2013. I really didn't go out or do anything. Spent the winter at home, sleeping all day and making the record at night. I was in a daze and can barely remember anything about it because I was locked into the process in my head. I barely looked up from my keyboards other than to eat.

Was there anything you were trying to do thematically on this album?

No. I wasn't trying to do anything. It's just what came out of me. In retrospect, its pretty easy to put a coherent, intentional narrative on it. But it honestly was not planned that way. I like to think I let my unconscious mind tell its dream story.

How would you describe the forthcoming album as different to your earlier work - tell us about your progression as an artist.

I always try to answer this question when asked, but the truth is I'm the wrong person to ask. I'm too close to it to really see it. When I listen, it sounds more solid and confident than my older music. But I don't know really.

You're coming to New Zealand really soon! What can we expect from your live show?

The live show is loud and the visuals are important. Watch the video. Ignore me.

What are your future plans, say for the rest of 2013?

Playing more shows and then settling down at the end of the year to make more music in seclusion.


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