Music

oOoOO on Nighttime Music Making and Knob Turning

Music

oOoOO on Nighttime Music Making and Knob Turning

oOoOO is the pseudonym of the San Francisco-based Christopher Dexter Greenspan, the enigmatic electronic musician who has been producing lush and hazy sounds by dissecting, sampling, and choping and screwing pop music. His last EP, Our Love is Hurting Us with collaborator Butterclock’s dreamy vocals, is a soft and ambient collection of hypnotic songs. With a new album dropping before the summer and a European tour kicking off, the Tri Angle signed artist is continuing to produce sweet tracks and maintaining his mystery.

Do you always work late at night?
Yeah, I am up until like 6 or 7 in the morning these days. I work better at night, if I am up during the day I find excuses to go out and never get any work done. At night there are no possible distractions really. Everything closes early in San Francisco so after 2 I have nothing to do but work.

That’s kind of a poetic take, making music during nighttime.
Yeah, it’s really nice. You just feel like you are in a blank space and your ideas can come alive better. I feel more focused.

How important is the internet to you in terms of communications?
Yeah the internet is hugely important to what I do. I mean I’ve thought about getting a little studio to work in that has no Internet connection so as not to be distracted. But  often, I spontaneously think of a sample or a sound I would like to use and I need to go online and snatch it. So it’s just not practical and without the internet to do my “networking” I would be nowhere.

It must be super handy for sampling and such. And that’s how you met Laura Clock?
 Yeah, exactly. We met back in the MySpace days. We sort of mutually discovered each other’s music and started an email conversation about working together. We were exchanging tracks via email before we’d ever met. I mean we had a couple nearly finished tracks before we even spoke on the phone.

She is great live.
Yeah, I LOVE her shows. She is really great live. I’m glad she is finally releasing a proper record because hopefully she will start getting more shows. In my opinion her, performances are her biggest strength. Its rare to see good live shows these days.

I was actually curious about of what you would sound like live when I saw you at Glasslands in November. There were discrepancies between your live show and the recording. It was heavy and spooky and ephemeral. But I do look forward to hopefully hearing you with Laura one day.
Yeah, thanks. I try to not just play back the tunes as they are on the recordings, but it is very difficult trying to come up with something seamless because unlike a lot of other electronic “laptop” type shows, my tracks all have very different tempos and feelings, so instead of trying to hide that, I accentuate it and make the show a bit jarring and disjointed.

But I like playing with Laura a lot. And I am actually singing a bit on my new record, so I am maybe gonna try and do some “singing” myself at shows this year. I don’t know though, I am working on it.

As an electronic musician, considering you have experience playing instruments, how does it differentiate from performing with a laptop? I wonder if there is a certain bias against electronic musicians?
 It’s strange to be doing shows with a laptop, because it’s not really something that comes natural to me. I don’t even know how to use Ableton at all, for example. To do what I do live, I use a couple of other programs in this really awkward kind of way. On my recordings, I use real guitars, real bass guitars, and even real drums sometimes. It’s not just software at all. So a lot of songs don’t really make any sense in the context of a laptop set. Some songs, I haven’t at all figured out how to perform them in that context and in any case I want to do something different.

At the end of it all it’s really all about the atmosphere and conveying a feeling right?
Yeah definitely. I suppose it doesn’t matter if you are using a laptop or have an orchestra. There are plenty of ways to get a mood across.

A lot of times musicians rely on just turning the lights off and kind of having this already pre-packaged environment.
At the same time though, there is something really refreshing about an artist like Zomby, who seems to just hit play on his iTunes and stand there while the song plays. It is refreshingly honest and kind of looks defiant in the face of all of this pointless knob twisting that is really doing nothing anyway.

So what’s your next album going to be like?
The new record there is even more guitar and live instrumentation, so it will be really hard to perform it live with a laptop. It’s an LP and I feel like it’s really close to being finished. There is some of what people would expect there, and quite a bit of what people wouldn’t I suppose. It has two really distinct sides to it: a sort of lighter, pop side and a more muddy, distant, more instrumental side. It feels more like a concept than a collection of songs, which is new. I am so close to it and spend so much time with it at the moment that I can barely see it.

But we should definitely expect vocals?
Yeah, vocals for sure, both original and sampled. I have been working on it in bursts of about a month at a time when I am home since maybe May. But this past month and a half has really been a breakthrough.

What helped the breakthrough?
 Just being at home for two months straight really helped and locking myself away. I learned more in the last two months about “production”, than I did in the last year and a half. So I had to go back and rework all the songs from earlier in the year according to what I’ve learned.

What’s your creative process like?
There is no process. Sometimes I sit down and force myself—completely uninspired—to work on music. Other times I am just walking around somewhere and I get an idea and I have to run home and sort of work it out before it goes away. A lot of times I just have a certain mood or feeling I want to create but have no idea how. I just try different instruments, tempos, approaches, etc. until something approximating this mood starts to show itself.

So how did your name come about? It’s funny because to prove whatever witchy cred people have is to be able to say your name the right way.
It was meant to be the absence of a name actually. Just some emptiness in place of a name. I always thought most band names were really corny for some reason, like a bunch of mild mannered musicians think they are in a gang or something. I just wanted to create a mood that had no name. It was never meant to be pronounced because I never thought anyone would hear the music, let alone SAY the oOoOOs outloud.