Craig Huxtable (Landscape Body Machine) and Chris Peterson (Decree, Left Spine Down, Damage Control, FLA…) started a common project Öhm and released a self-titled debut album in 2013. They renamed their project into OHMelectronic and are now back on track with this new and again self-titled album released by Artoffact Records. The songs are moving from sophisticated and intelligent EBM pieces to heavy, industrial power tracks. This is what Chris and Craig have to reveal about their work. (Picture credits @heybadgood)
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: From Öhm to OHMelectronic six years have passed, the name has changed, but the taste for electronic music seems to be intact. How do you perceive the evolution from your first album towards the new one and why did you have to change the name?
Chris: We went from a more exploratory approach on the first record, to a more focused vision on the new one. We both have wide and varied tastes in music, but with this project it is indeed very electronics focused and we’re both very passionate about that type of approach and sound. We wanted some more bite on this album, and to have less clutter so to speak, so it came together the way it did with that in mind. We also learned a fair bit from our live performances, and wrote new material that would help round out our live set and put some more energy into it.
Craig: Chris and I will always try to do something different every record and it comes from a place of wanting to please ourselves as much as the listening audience. I don’t want to put out music that I feel has already been done, there’s not much of a point to that. We discussed a heavier album and then it evolved from there.
The name change felt natural and was something we felt necessary from a branding perspective. The more unique the name, the easier to find… and the name OHM was getting harder to distinguish from other entities using the name.
Q: You both are into music for numerous years now and have been involved with different projects. What brings OHMelectronic you maybe didn’t find into other projects and tell us a bit more about the sound you’d in mind for this project?
Chris: We compliment each other’s skill sets and have a working relationship based on mutual respect. Further to that, as with many other collaborations I take part in, we make each other better artists by learning from each other. When that stops happening you need to move on, but with Craig there is a long road ahead of us with much growth and music to be done. My time in FLA really helped me sharpen my skill-set as an electronic composer, but I stopped growing in that environment, however I really wanted to keep working on synth based music. Working with Craig, we both agreed this is very much a synth obsessed project for us and it fills a void that we see both in our music collections and our collaborations.
Craig: I’ve spent most of my career as a solo artist with periodic collaborations, which is funny, because working alone is not my preference. It’s very hard to find people that you get on with and can work well with and that is OHMelectronic’s greatest strength. At the core is our bond and when you care about people and respect them your working relationship benefits. We both know what it’s like to work with difficult people and so it’s a relief that we meet in the middle on everything really.
Q: How did the writing of the new album happened, what has been the focal point and what makes the chemistry between both of you?
Chris: We don’t get to be in the same room as much as we’d like thanks to Craig living in Victoria and me being in Vancouver still. When we are, we’ve become very efficient at writing and recording with very limited time. On one day we had a few hours to record vocals for 4 songs I think it was, at our friend Tom Slug’s studio space before Craig had to run off to catch the ferry back to Victoria. It was a crazy session considering we had to discuss what we wanted to capture and in one case even transplanting lyrics from one track onto another song… there was no rehearsing for him in that case, just us sorting out the timing and tone right there and then, hitting record, and that’s that. Other times like this featured me setting up some patches and such for him to bash out some keys for me, and again more than one song idea and in quick time. Besides those fun moments, the rest is sending files back and forth and lots of discussions about the direction things are going as I develop and produce the finished track. I suppose the simple way to see it is that Craig is a very good songwriter and musician, and I’m the guy that obsesses with the production and sounds, but as I’ve mentioned before we learn from each other and those distinctions get blurred as occasionally I add some melodic elements, or Craig’s ever improving production values make using what he sends me easier and I can spend less time cleaning things up or swapping things out.
Craig: The chemistry is born out of wanting to make good music with no bullshit attached (laughs). Don’t get me wrong, Chris and I will disagree on parts and sometimes even whole songs, but we respect each other and put the music first. The best idea wins, no whining, and then we move on. I’ve been in creative situations where people refuse to back down because ‘it’s their guitar part’ or whatever and that’s when a good song can turn to shit because you’re not doing what’s best for the art itself. As soon as you start serving your own ego, it’s done. We truly enjoy working face to face in the studio and I believe that’s when the real magic happens between us creatively.
Q: There clearly is a duality running through this album; some songs are driven by sophisticated EBM influences while other songs are more into a kind of hardcore industrial style. How do you explain this sonic schizophrenia?
Chris: We are the sum of our influences added on to our original stories and perspectives. What category you find it in is of little concern to me. I guess some people would find my music collection very confusing, it’s all over the place. With OHMelelctronic we love a good dance track, but also enjoy a blistering heavy as fuck ass kicker or an atmospheric piece, etc. Considering how far technology has come along, electronic music can be so many things, just don’t expect us to bust out the guitars 😉 We’ve both been doing this for a while now and have so many different influences, that I’m sure we will continue to confuse anyone wanting to say it’s one specific thing. I like that.
Craig: At no point during the record were we consciously trying to go this way or that way other than going for a heavier sound and simpler song writing ideas. Is it a good song? Did I make you sad? Mad? Introspective?
I think your perception of this record and how it sounds depends on where you come from. You may hear variety where others may say the songs are too similar in their approach. We are trying to carve out a new niche in a sound we’ve both been a part of for a long time and I like the challenge of finding a new twist on something you’ve done before. I would rather make people upset by trying something new rather than make a cookie cutter EBM record.
Q: The clip of “Uppercut” is quite interesting; it has something retro-like, reminding me a bit of the 80s. Is it more a kind of message or a critical perception of the world we’re living in? And what have been the other sources of inspiration for the lyrical content?
Craig: The thing with “Uppercut” is the lyrical themes are timeless really. Religion where it intersects with power and money has been going on for thousands of years. My lyrics may appear topical, but I’m inspired as much by history as I am the present. I think things are pretty bad in world politics today but then again I thought they were pretty bad in the 80’s too… the more things change the more they stay the same I suppose.
Behind all of the topical lyrics is my own personal themes that I am working through. My first marriage was long, manipulative and abusive so I find when I listen back to songs like “With” or “Disarmed” I’m still working some of those things out.
Q: I noticed you’ll play the next Infest-festival (UK), which is an opportunity to see you on stage in Europe. How does OHMelectronic on stage looks like and how do you transpose the original song edits into live versions?
Chris: For now we’re not really getting into changing the arrangements in any significant way as we are doing limited time slots that don’t allow for adding extra verses/choruses and such. We both have keyboard setups, and hope to have a live drummer down the road as well, but as it is right now, we have to keep things very streamlined to be able to travel for these shows. I like to keep busy up there and always engaged, as does Craig. Both of us really enjoy performing and our setups let us add a lot of feel to the tracks and add new elements. The keyboards get a good workout, and much like my home studio, it’s a small setup but I get a lot out of it. If you want to see the traveling fetish circus with all the bells whips and whistles, featuring a bunch of people doing shit in costumes or on stilts, that’s not us 😉 If you want to see two guys that love what they’re doing, playing their asses off, come see us and be sure to say hi.