osh10 – Interview

By • Feb 25th, 2008 • Category: Alternative, Australian, Indie, Interview, Music

osh 10 duo

Bass and vocals? Not a pairing that one would think of but osh10 (www.osh10.com/) does make it sound completely obvious, by combining seriously funky and inventive bass playing with vocals that range from intensely soulful and jazzy to very edgy and playful.

osh10 sent duggup a CD for review earlier this year and after having a listen to it (about a half a dozen times. on repeat. Yes, it’s really that good), I had to find out more about Aimee and Mike. The interview (it’s a long one) that follows shows two musicians who have are quite thoughtful, articulate and incredibly generous with their time. they play up a storm as well.
So Question 1 has to be – How did you first meet up and decide “this is a cool idea”?
Aimee: No it’s not the typical band line-up is it? I guess initially it was just a case of getting together to write songs and naturally turning to our primary instruments. While we both play guitar and a bit of piano, The more we wrote together, the more I felt like I wanted to really dig in and explore the vast capabilities of voice and bass to create a really satisfying sound.
Mike: We started this band as an experiment. We wanted a different sound, so by combining bass and vocals, which are extremely different registers, we have so much room to work with in the ensemble. It means we can create a very raw spatial sound or use vocal and bass loops to create the effect of a full band playing.

duggup: I honestly can’t think of another duo doing this, although there have been some jazz ballads that come close. So where does the inspiration come from? What other producers, songwriters and/or artists fire you up?
Mike: I draw from too many sources to mention. I take inspiration from every style of music and combine all these elements to my playing. So I guess what keeps me motivated is the fact that I can use all forms of musical influences enabling me to create songs and sounds which hopefully no one has experienced before. giving me a unique voice with everything I write and perform.
Aimee: It surprises me that it is such an uncommon combination. Some people are almost angry at you when you tell them the line-up, particularly guitarists & drummers!!!) They say ‘You can’t do that!’ But once they hear the diversity of sound that we produce without that rhythm section, they do start to come around.

In terms of inspiration I really lean toward the theatrical, so while I listen to anything and everything, it is the things with a quirky bent that really appeal to me. I like Jon Brion both as a producer and a songwriter, he swings between such fragile melancholic sounds to something hilarious and carnivalesque. I love Sigur Ros for the beautiful visual and emotional journey their music takes you on. There is just so much stuff, I love the random play function on Itunes!

duggup: When did you both start making music as individuals, what is/was your motivation to do it?
Aimee: I was obsessed with creating things as a kid. My mum really encouraged my imagination, and between the dress-up box, art and craft supplies, instruments aplenty and unlimited use of the record player, I was left to invent entire one-woman shows performed for friends, relatives and pets. I would use my old tape deck to record songs that I had written or I’d rewrite melodies for the songs I’d tape off the radio. It took me until my late teens to single out music as my main outlet, but choose I did and it’s been my 24/7 obsession since.
Mike: I found music at a young age. The ability to express myself though music and to be able to connect with the audience and have them experience the same feelings is awesome. People don’t always realize it, but music is connected with everything we do. Some suggest music is irrelevant to life. but they are often the same people that then go home and listen to their favorite CD. I’m in love with the fact that my career is constantly evolving to new heights depending on my situation in life. This means that the music I write now will be completely different in a year’s time. and for me that beats any repetitive day job straight up. I would rather have no money and do what I want then be rich and bored with life.

duggup: Can you describe, briefly, how you work on a musical project?
Aimee: I don’t think we have a set plan.yet. We still feel really new to the whole idea of producing a body of work and I think it will take a few albums worth of experimenting, to settle on something that feels like solid method. By using varying methods of writing, it means each song we create has a life of its own and can become a part of us however it wants. This means it has its own unique personality.Just like people are unique in their own ways.

osh 10 cd cover

duggup: I have been listening to your recent album. Could you tell us a little bit about it? Tell us how the new album developed, when did you start writing and recording the material?
Aimee: We started writing osh10 songs back at music school as part of our songwriting assessments and to perform as part of our recital exams. At the time, it was purely academic, somewhere along the line it evolved into a really fulfilling musical adventure worth the pursuit.

The songs on the album developed over about 4 years, before osh10 was a fully-fledged band. Rather than write songs in a short period, for the purpose of putting an album out, each song springs from where we were at musically, whether it be exploring new techniques we had learned at school, influences from projects we were involved in outside of osh10, as well as the ever-changing musical, cultural influences. It wasn’t until we got to the end of tertiary studies that we were able to look back on this body of work and think ‘hey, there’s an album in this!’

duggup: How did you approach creating the album’s material (i.e., did you start with the lyrics or a melody)?
Aimee: It really varies, often Mike will record a bass line that I will write a melody/lyrics to or vice versa, other times I might write a melody and bass line that Mike will then layer with other bass lines and we build it from there. Sometimes we write the complete song on our own. Each song just seems to have a predetermined destiny and we just choose the route that seems right.
Mike: Similar to what Aimee said. Every song we’ve written has been created in a different way. What has been recurring is the way we workshop songs. Once we have the ideas for a song. we workshop it and change structures together. By doing this we’ve achieved the creation of music that is relevant to both of us. This means when we perform a song the emotion is expressed though all of us, creating a much more intimate experience.
Aimee: Absolutely, it’s a team effort!

duggup: “Mr Sheen” and “Eight Hands” are currently my favourites, what about you both. Now that the album is finished and out there which track still surprises you when you hear it?
Mike: For me, I like a different song each time I hear it. This is because each song contains the mood I was in when I wrote it. So depending on what mood I’m in, there will be a song that connects to me on that level.
Aimee: Yeah “Mr Sheen” seems to be a popular choice both live and in terms of radio play, but we find that people let us know what song they’re digging the most from the album and there’s no consistency in the choice, which I guess is how I feel about it, it is a mixed bag. Now that time has passed since recording/mixing, I can listen to the album as a listener again, rather than a critical musician. I do love to listen to “‘Going.gone” and I will never get sick of hearing “Sferics“, it is just stunning- Mike at his best!

SIDEBAR: Time for you all to hear what we are talking about. Have a listen to my favourite “Mr Sheen”

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duggup: The CD has such a wonderful dynamic range, Adam Dempsey your mastering engineer did a great job of preserving the light and shade of the performances. Are you happy with how it turned out or in hindsight do you wish you had gone for a “louder is better” mix?
Mike: Not at all. I’m very happy with the album as it is. Generally, if you go for the louder is better option, you lose all dynamics and therefore the songs loose their impact.
Aimee: I think the ‘louder is better’ principle has taken a little too much precedent in music in the past few years and I’m glad we resisted. In previous bands, when I guess I was a little more naive, I was disappointed that the soul of the song was lost in mixing, and so we did a lot of research into finding an engineer who was going to understand the subtleties of our songs. I think we really found that in Adam.

duggup: What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?
Aimee: I feel like I’m just beginning to get my head around what my music is, what is unique to me, what I want to say with my music. and that makes me feel really excited about the future of my music making and the road ahead for osh10.
Mike: Right now I’m spending all my money on new gadgets that will expand the sounds I can produce on my bass ten-hundred-thousand fold. I’m so excited by this because it means my creative musical expression will almost be limitless. I now have so much to work with.but so little money 🙂

duggup: And what aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?
Mike: The fact that people are so quick to judge other people’s music. It usually so open and shut too. It’s either brilliant or shithouse. Music is so subjective and that really is the great thing about it- There is a place for everyone with something to say musically, and an audience for just about everything, so I think less of the judgment and more of the exploration to find what does it for you is necessary.
Aimee: I think the perceived value of music, or rather lack of value in music is a real concern. Particularly in Australia, I think that there is a heavily ingrained notion that musicians should do what they do for free. It amazes me the general resistance to paying even a $5 cover charge for live music. It kills me the way that a lot of venues think that while they have every right to make a huge profit from alcohol sales and are happy to use live music, or recorded music for that matter as a means for increasing that profit, that they don’t need pay the musicians adequately. I think that there needs to be a major shift in people’s attitude of music as having a monetary value in addition to the accepted cultural and emotional value. I mean you don’t go have surgery and then say, ‘No I’m not paying, because you should just be doing this because you love your job’

osh10 duo 2

duggup: What do think of “giving your music away” Any thoughts on Radiohead’s decision to release an album on its own? What do you think of the music industry today?
Aimee: It’s a really tough one, I think what Radiohead and Trent Reznor have done with their ‘Pay what you like’ model is to bring into public conscience the way in which music is distributed, who is getting what percentage of the pie and how much it is actually worth. While I don’t think that this would work for a band lacking in the profile that these artists have, I am definitely of the thought that major label domination as we have known it, is dead. Digital Distribution is the reality and the future of music and had the majors not feared it so much, they probably would have found better ways of harnessing the potential of the digital world. They didn’t though, and the power is now in the hands of the makers, the musicians. I think the difficult part is making the mental shift between how music is to be made and essentially paid for- it is a very different model to the old and musicians really need to do their homework and understand the new model.

For me, I think absolutely, if it cost you to make something, then rightfully you should be paid something for it. The nature of a song being digitally encoded means that it will inevitably be copied. The challenge for artists now is to accept that reality and work on the areas that cannot be copied, such as trust- gaining a fan’s loyalty is an enormous asset that will result in money being spent on attending live shows, purchasing merchandise, introducing new fans to your music because they trust you and your product. If this trust and subsequent income streams came from someone obtaining a downloaded mp3, then so be it. I think the whole musician-audience relationship is becoming much more personal and interactive and you have to earn a fan. I love that I can have a direct relationship with the people who connect to our music, through things such as myspace and facebook, it can’t be a bad thing can it?

duggup: So I notice on your websites, your solution to the independent distribution question is to use Paypal, CDBaby and of course the ubiquitous iTunes. How is that working for you?
Aimee: I wouldn’t say that one distribution method is winning out over another at this point, Paypal is great, it is so easy to set up and attach to our myspace and website without having to worry about internet security and setting up our own merchant facilities. I think that the majority of people are becoming very comfortable with the idea of purchasing music online whether in physical form or as mp3s from the likes of iTunes, and I love to be able to put in a little thank you note to people who buy it direct from the site, being a direct part of the transaction makes you feel very grateful and It’s so important to hold onto that humility.

For the next album we may look at getting a distributor for the bricks and mortar stores nationally, as we are currently stocked in a few independent music stores in Melbourne only. As our fanbase grows (fingers crossed it will continue to grow!) it would be lovely to have the option for our fans to buy or order the cd from any record store if they do not feel comfortable with the online method, but that’s on the to-do list for album number 2.

duggup: Mike. tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment and tools you use? Mike: At the moment I play an Ibanez BTB 6-string bass.This gives me great sub sounds and also allows chordal playing in the guitar realm. I recently bought a Boss RC-50 loop station so I can layer bass lines and chords over each other to create the full rhythm section sound that you hear on the album. I then have a few pedals which allow me to play a full range of styles. I can create special audio scopes with reverb, delays, phasers and alike with my Digitech effects unit.or go the opposite, creating harsh gritty tunes with my Boss Oc3 distortion and ocata bass. All capped off with my Dunlop 95Q Wah pedal.because everyone loves wah! {in some circles this is none as “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” or GAS, it’s a common affliction among musicians. duggup}
I’m constantly updating my set up. The next step for me is incorporating my Mac laptop into the mix with Ableton Live. This will give me endless options of sounds and possibilities.

duggup: As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people…and why do you think that is?
Mike: Like I said earlier. I take inspiration from all forms of music. I’m always listening to new music by other bands and composers. It expands my understanding of music also helps me define who I am.
Aimee: Wow, less music, that would be like starving myself – I can’t stop! Living in Fitzroy, I have such great access to live music and I regularly head out to see both friends bands as well as seeking out new things. I don’t see how a musician can make new music without some sort of context of where they are in the music landscape, I mean you can lock yourself in a room for 5 years and do nothing but practice, and sure you’re gonna have amazing chops, but what are you going to write about? How are you going to relate to your bandmates or your audience? I think musicians who become insular in relation to other music are really missing out.

duggup: How did you produce and finance your musical productions?
Aimee: We are totally independent and have paid for the entire project ourselves- any way that we could. We play in a couple of bands that do weddings and corporate gigs and the money we earn from those goes directly into the osh10 kitty and we each do a number part time jobs- We just did whatever we had to in order to raise funds and it’s amazing how hard you will work to achieve something you really believe in, totally makes the end product even more satisfying.

duggup: How hard is it for you to find gigs? Are you perceived as “too hard” to book?
Aimee: This project is still very young and I guess we are still trying to find a musical label for ourselves- we don’t fit neatly into a musical genre and so in that respect, I guess we have to think a little harder about which gigs we do. It isn’t hard to find gigs, but with such a different sounding band, it’s just a matter of playing a gig that has the right audience. That said, though we have been in some pretty diverse lineups from live drum & bass/electronica outfits, to more roots or jazz.

We have a definite wish list of bands that we would like to work with, and we are just going to play with around with it until we find the right mix.

duggup: What are you currently up to? And what can we expect from you next? What are your future plans or dreams as a musicians?
Aimee: We have been writing non stop since we wrapped up the recording on the last album and we are pretty keen to get into the studio and start getting them on tape- I think the sounds going to be a lot bigger, the dynamics are going to be even more defined. We have some pretty wild ideas about where we are headed, our challenge is to realize them now! I’m pretty darn psyched actually; putting the album out has really opened the flood gates for our creativity. We will also be ramping our live gigs up over the next few months and trying out the gizmos, I think we’re just gonna jump in headfirst in 2008 and see what we come up with!
Mike: As I described with my music equipment set up. Once it’s fully up and running the way I want it, I can effectively do anything I want. I may even be able to play drum beats on my bass…who knows? My music will always be constantly evolving to create new sounds never heard before. I will never get bored with my career choice in life. That’s the plan!

osh10 end

duggup: So, if you had to interview yourself what would you ask?
Mike: Do you like coffee? My answer is yes 🙂
Aimee: What does osh10 mean? I’m still waiting for someone to figure it out on their own- I’m not telling!!!

duggup: Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)
Mike: Anything that expresses emotion.which I can find in almost every style/genre of music.
Aimee: I have to have variety, I refuse to listen to CD’s in my car because I think having the radio on is the best way to hear new stuff- for better or worse. I take risks on music and trawl places like CDBaby to seek out new independent music. I do constantly go back and revisit older music, like at that music I am obsessively going back and listening to my old Kate Bush and Beatles records as well as my Beck collection, because it doesn’t matter how much you listen to them, you always find something new in it, and good music is just good music, it’s ageless.

The last Question every time. What’s on high rotation on your MP3 player at the moment that we should know about?
Aimee: I bought Sia’s new album 2 weeks ago and have been listening to it with an almost unhealthy obsession- I just LOVE it. I would really like to work with her one day. I am also loving Amon Tobin’s stuff, especially ‘Permutation’, it blows my mind that that album is 10 years old, it sounds so modern to my ears, the guy is a genius.
Mike: Again a lot of styles. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of electronic music by Squarepusher and Aphex Twin among others. I guess I like that genre of music because it is utilizing new technology and striving for new sounds. For example, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the depths of unique composition that Aphex Twin uses. For his song ‘Window Licker’ he used Pd, a complex audio engine. With this program he was able to generate sound from images. I’m not going to go into full details about how he did it.because my it hurts my brain. However he created ‘Window Licker’ using warped images of himself.which is quite relevant to the film clip for it.

There are so many crazy ways to get new sounds. So when I look at Kyma, a piece of outboard audio hardware, I get excited. As far as I’m aware Kyma can change sound waves on a molecular level, rather than just warping a sine wav for example. This means that one can transform and create sounds in an entirely different way. I’m very interested in inventions like this because it shows just how limitless the possibilities are in sound and music design/creation.

duggup: Interesting choices guys. I have to admit to having a couple of Amon Tobin tracks on my MP3 player as well.

Thanks for your time and all your typing (this was an email interview). I look forward to catching you playing live.

Ok folks, you can get a feel for the album at www.myspace.com/osh10music and then head over and pick up a copy of the album from their website at www.osh10.com/.

is fascinated by guitars, music, guitars, production, silly noises, guitars and used to be a musician. Did I mention the thing about the guitars?
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