Monday 08 October 2012 at 09:35 am
San Francisco producer Chris Dexter from oOoOO likes hiding away from exposure. We spoke to the face behind the elusive project and tried to pull a thread from the veil surrounding him.
Live, oOoOO pumps his syrupy-slow hip hop beats and dark drones topped with ghostly R&B vocal samples with a hoodie pulled low over his head. And then there’s that non-referential bandname. ‘I don’t really trust the idea of authenticity or even identity, because I feel like a different person from day to day’.
Interview by Brenda Bosma, film stills taken from a fresh video shoot directed by Chris himself
You seem to be shrouding yourself in mystery. Who are you?
Well, oOoOO is meant to be about the absence of identity – or at least the absence of a name. I don’t really trust the idea of authenticity or even identity, because I feel like a different person from day to day. So I guess Chris Dexter is someone who is constantly getting rid of the past and then forgetting about it and moving on. So it’s hard to say.
But if we were to uncover your essence, could you tell us your favourite chord, your favourite food/drink, favourite time of day?
I like E minor a lot, drink loads of water, I love chocolate croissants but don’t eat much and I’m mostly up at night.
Why are you in the music business?
I started playing music when I was three or four and started composing in my early teens. It’s like talking. And there’s nothing else I am better at. I tried some other things, to be more ‘normal’, but it didn’t work out so well. That motivated me to really push myself to make good music.
Do you make yourself proud every once in a while?
Yes. Once you achieve something, you want to push yourself to go further. Or at least I do. I get bored easily. I’ve been very happy with what I’ve done in the last couple of years, but I’m trying to push myself to do something different and better.
Imagine where you will be in a few years. You’ll be floating!
That’s the goal!
Are you happy with the term Witch House?
Honestly, I try not to think about genre. I just go where my emotions push me. Making music to me is like a type of dreaming. It wouldn’t make sense for me to wake up from a dream and try to decide what genre of a dream it was. Music is made more magical the less it’s defined.
So you never wake up at night from a Goth Dream?
I used to, but my sleep has been very peaceful recently. I make good songs when I am content, but I have to say that some of the best songs were made in total desperation.
Do you feel like evoking that state of mind for the sake of art?
The state of mind I try to put myself in is kind of a floating state. I try to destroy my daily routine as much as I can, so that my experiences are as surprising as possible. Sometimes I stay up all night; other times I go to bed early, some days I eat a lot; some days not at all. Basically, I like to make waking life as much like a dream as possible. I make music like that because I wish life felt more like that. So I invent it.
I read that oOoOO is not meant to be pronounced. Don’t you have anything to say?
I do, but it’s not easy to pin down. The music says what it says. But there are no words I can think of that the music is trying to give meaning to. Music is just music. I don’t want to translate it into anything else. It loses its essence that way, like when you see a great movie and you try to explain it, it never sounds like you are telling it right.
But what about you?
The music is very specific to my experiences personally, but again it’s like a dream. Dreams are specific to the dreamer, but they don’t really translate into regular words. Even I don’t really know what it means.
Will there ever be a ringtone of an oOoOO song?
I would actually love to make a whole record of 15-second ringtones. You just gave me an idea there!
Well, ideas keep you going.
I’m always thinking about music even when I’m not making any. I am working on an oOoOO LP right now, but there are a lot of other things I want to do also. They are a secret for now, but you’ll see. I won’t ever stop.
oOoOO play on 21 October at Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ in Amsterdam. The show is organised in collaboration with The Rest is Noise and entrance is free for Subbacultcha! members.