In anticipation of Glass' forthcoming release crY on OOH-sounds, we've caught up with the french duo as well as label boss Pardo for a extensive double-bill interview.
Hi Pardo! We’ve been enjoying releases from OOH-sounds since we’ve discovered it through the Sim Hutchins / Dale Cornish Decouple ][ Series and Wesqk Coast’s S.T.A.S.H. EP released early last year. What was your incentive to start a label?
I am not new to starting a label. Back in the 1990s I founded Royality Records and SheeBeen as side projects of my band Casino Royale. The first was all dedicated to the national Posse scene, the second was a 100% DnB label, born under the influence of the Hoxton Sq Blue Note Metalheadz nights — we were signed to a major label and having an indipendent/underground side was vital for us at that point — which had but one release since our UK distro (Vinyl) went bankrupt.
This time, I wanted to work on something that followed my instincts. So, it's nothing to do with genres and more concerned with the need to explore new inputs in music. I like to listen and absorb the point of view of others when I find it attractive, and the possibility of meeting and working with creatives constantly tests my vision and triggers a continuous, necessary revolution. This is basically my —and OOH’s— attitude after over 20 years of working in music.
In a world saturated with indepandant labels, you’ve managed to create a certain cult following. What do you think makes a difference compared to bigger leftfield-orientated labels with larger budgets?
Basically a lot of unpaid work! Joke's aside, I think it's the consistency of achieving goals. Once I decide something, I try to make it happen - sometimes this may fail or just isn't as interesting as I thought it was so I drop it. Money makes a difference, of course, but working on a tight budget stimulates creativity, the lightness of taking risks and possibly even failing on projects. Additionally, a small business has the opportunity to scout and invest in fledgling emerging producers—who are then usually grabbed by bigger labels eheh.
Would you consider OOH-sounds part of the new Italian electronic scene?
I wouldn’t dislike that at all, since so many—and different—extra quality labels are operating in Italy these days (Haunter, Enklav, Prehistoric Silence, Presto!?, Senufo, Saucer, Yerevan Tapes…to name a few!) But I'm probably a kind of an outsider since I don't hang out with any particular scene. People who know about my career maybe see me as self-sufficient (which I am NOT!) Plus I think I am quite allergic to definitions.
Every release seems to be carefully curated. Is that a back-and-forth with the artists or do you have a certain type of tracks that fits the label’s aesthetics?
Let me say both… although the process is different each time, we usually ask the artist to suggest an idea for the cover, encouraging outside collaboration to broaden the vision. So far we have worked with very talented artists such as Natalia Trejbalova (Wesqk Coast, Voronoi), Marick Roy (Glass), Alice Bonfanti (Decouple ][ Series), Luca Matti (Bangalore), Lovett/Codagnone (Backwords) Paper Resistance (Black Job) Nicolo Cervello e Sebastian Camens (forthcoming Holy Similaun, Calum Gunn). Then I intervene on this first image, track or idea by taking care of the layout and expanding everything into a general concept of the release and to the physical object (vinyl, cassette or clothing or whatever it will be). This gives consistency to the whole catalogue of the label.
How do you feel that the current state of the world is affecting your label?
Quoting the work of Italian artist Nannucci, 'No object is innocent', I think that every artistic proposition is a political statement in its own right, whether the artist wants it to be or not. So, even without a clear project, I think I find myself placing our releases in a larger framework that reflects my political thinking, I assume —especially in the extraordinary and complex moment we are experiencing now. Each release is made of sounds, words and images (moving sometimes) which create a broader discourse.
What are some future plans for OOH-sounds?
We have few releases planned at the end of the year: Calum Gunn presenting his new LP “Paradox of Choice”—an investigation into our obsession with choice and the capacity to handle a large amount of information— Holy Similaun will release “Ansatz” as a full length cassette & exclusive lathe cut about uncertainty and the mutation of our "safe spaces”, GEORGIA will drop their next vinyl album "State Effect (Accel)" and a collaboration with Martin Thompson’s Unrequested Artist / band name* label is also on the menu.
How did you meet Hugo and Etienne from Glass?
I think Italian video artist and producer Lorem is the link if I remember well… Lorem is currently working on a video thing for “crY” so expect some further evolution from this awesome EP!
Can we expect label & artist to work together again in the future?
Yes - it's an open discourse… we’ve built a bond, a friendship, and working wit Hugo and Etienne is very stimulating, it is a flexible team.
Photo credit: Leo Gack
Over to you guys, Glass! Since we’ve got in touch right before the world wide pandemic, you’ve been busy doing live online shows (one of them with OOH-sounds) and podcasts as well as making tunes, including one on our LL017 V/A Vol.II release and one recently on SFX’s XquisiteForce.collection/01 V/A. How did you guys meet and what started Glass?
We met via mutal friends and interest in music many years ago: going out at the same places, gigs, acting in the same scene. We started Glass as a way to free ourselves from compositional constraints of our other musical projects. A playground allowing us to experiment every idea we couldn’t otherwise do from recording acoustic instruments, voices to programming and synthesis techniques. We constantly questioned our musical practices since then, including our approach to composition and view on the social and artistic role of music today. All this has slowly shaped our sound into how it is today.
Do you have a specific Modus Operandi when it comes to production?
We found an enjoyable and efficient workflow by deliberately producing in separate studios, as it enables us to go deeper into our ideas and to build much more sophisticated arrangements than if the other one was constantly around interrupting the flow. We also both take active part in every step of the creative process and are constantly talking about concepts and intuitions of a specific work as it evolves and found its aestethic, I think we agree that the discussions around our ideas and intuitions are central to our approach.
How did the ‘crY’ release come about?
It was a more experimental recording, resonating with some features of our contemporary day to day life while also being playful and deeply related to the body. One other thing that was important is that it needed to be conceived as a continuous stream of audio. This created a strange collage of many sound design techniques, patterning tricks, heavy processing and editing that can sometimes feels like doom scrolling through an overwhelming quantity of informations and media content. We then sent demos to Pardo as we absolutely love his label, and couldn’t believe he was interested about the record. We definitely learned a lot by working all together on this, including Marick Roy (@_meur) who designed the artwork and the « foulard » that we feel is a direct extension of the music.
Photo credit: Leo Gack
You’re from Caen, the same city as the late Qebrus who sadly passed away in 2018. How influential is his sound to yours?
It’s a stupid story because Etienne was following his work for more than a year before he was told that they were from the same city, that he was a friend of Richard Devine and that AFX mixed one of his tracks in his show. I can’t say that he was very influential to our particular work but we were blown away when we discovered it. There is so much to it, it’s beautiful and so complex that you can’t even describe it. His sound is very singular, you really need to hear it to even imagine that it’s possible. In this way, showed us how precise and mind bending music composition could be. We can only be impressed and respectful about everything he made. We didn’t know him so we can say anything else without being wrong. In our mind it’s a discreet genius that we never met.
What sorts of studio techniques are you mostly interested in lately?
We each have different techniques that we like to experiment on our respective side. Etienne works exclusively on laptop, mostly focusing on samples; bending them to the the extreme with multiple processing techniques, granular and multichannel patches and Hugo is into software to modular, strange patterning and D50 fm synthesis. We always use mutual material as input for our work, until you can’t recall where it came from first. Today you can do something out of everything and that’s the most important thing - no need to buy expensive stuff or complex equipment. The ultimate weapon for us is editing and placing samples by hand, nothing can compete with that if you put the time and effort into it.
In great Loose Lips tradition, we have to ask you at least one food-related question: what is the absolute must eat dish from your region and what drink goes best with it?
Glass: We have a world class croissant for breakfast, you can eat it with a nice cup of coffee it’ll be just what you need.
Pardo: fried anchovies on a green salad with tomatoes and Tropea onions and beer.
Thank you very much guys!
Cover art credit: Marick Roy
Glass - crY (OOH-sounds)
Out 18.09.2020 on digital.