“More” is the second feature length by the Azkoitia instrumental quartet Oh. A work of long and dense cuts, full of ups and downs that together create different emotional passages.
What has this pandemic time meant, for better or for worse at the time of musical creation in Ṙo? An opportunity to try new rehearsal or composition dynamics?
The truth is that for this occasion there has been some change in the composition of the songs, forced in this case by the social situation that we come to live. Taking into account the fact that I had more time (Gorka), I was able to build up to 70% of the drive at home. Previously, the composition process had been different, with more hours in the rehearsal room and although they genuinely came from me, the songs closed with the rest of the band and with the different contributions of the rest of the components.
What has played on your walkmans/discmans/whatever you use in the last few years, or during the period of writing these songs? New styles that you didn’t hear before?
Well, in the band you hear “everything”. From electronic music, alternative, pianists, all kinds of post [risas]. Even from extreme metal to soul or funky… All this is reflected in the songs in our opinion.
This is something I always like to ask all bands in the genre. How do you see its health in the middle of 2023? It seems that post rock had its culminating point but that today it has stagnated slightly, although its interest on the part of the public does not seem to have diminished. Do you still find current proposals that motivate you as much as before?
Well, we sincerely believe that the genre is in enviable health, although it is true that it had its peak in terms of popularity a few years ago, artistically we believe that great albums are still being released, taking into account that it is a fairly exploited sound. Personally, we do find some proposals motivating, there are bands that do not lower the bar of their records one iota. Example of this I would say that they are Cult of Luna or Elder; Bastards don’t put out a bad record.
Being a 100% instrumental work, it is something always complex to recognize. Is there a story or idea that you wanted to convey in these 8 songs?
Well, the truth is that not for this occasion, in the previous one we did want to make a conceptual work, but not for this one. Of course, if there is a common thread in the album, that would be that of melancholy, sadness and agony.
Tell us a little about your extra-musical sources of inspiration and motivation when creating this record (cinema, literature, art…)
In general terms and in a tangible way, they are musical, that is, bands we admire and vibrate with: Caspian, Cult of Luna, Isis, Lisabo, Elder, Hubris, Ólafur Arnalds, Beach House, to name a few of the many that we love them. In a more unconscious and intangible way, it could be a starry night in the middle of summer, a walk through a forest on a windy day, reaching the top of a mountain, a deep conversation with someone and the sensation that this produces, I don’t know, I think They are things that inspire us in a tremendous way and all that accumulation of sounds, sensations, experiences create a specific breeding ground to feed that much-awaited creativity. Also, I would say that there is a default artistic stereotype that is related to creativity, but honestly in my opinion anything from our day to day inspires us.
In general, you are a band that likes to move around the Basque underground scene a lot (kultur-etxes, gaztetxes, independent promoters…). Tell us a little about how you think he is today. Have you seen a favorable evolution in recent years?
It is clearly seen that after spending 2 years with limited capacity, restrictions of all kinds, premises closed every two by three, limited hours… Both the bands and all the venues are eager to play and organize gigs, and that is appreciated. But on the other hand, some venues suffered a lot financially, some were closed, and others, on the other hand, will not organize a concert for you if they do not ensure a minimum capacity… But you win!
“In a certain way the new album follows a line of continuity from the previous “Athalase””
We have read that, in general, it is Gorka who is in charge of the base of the songs at the time of their composition. Briefly tell me about the exact creation process from the beginning to the end of these themes. With such long topics, I understand that it will be the result of many proposals that ends up materializing.
Yes, that’s usually how it is more or less. On this occasion, having all the songs in mind, although I had recorded in loops and on recorders, having so much material, so many songs and some of them being so long, what we did was record a demo at the venue, since we had of the media, to take a perspective of what we had in hand and thus also be able to work properly each one facing the recording studio. After listening to it we finished shaping it with some nuances and above all we worked a lot with synths, drums and bass respectively.
Tell us a little about that tradition that you always have to name your creations, references to the old Maria de Azkue Resurrection dictionary. Where did the idea come from? And what message or claim do you want to do with it?
We knew that the names had to be in Basque, because between us we only speak Basque and it is our language. But not having lyrics in the songs made it more difficult to give them meaning or a specific theme. So we found that old dictionary, I don’t know where the truth came from, and we started choosing words that sounded cool or that conveyed something to us. Once the songs were half finished, we chose the ones that best suited what the song conveyed to us.
The pandemic was a momentous moment for everyone (in one way or another). Surely the spirit of the songs of your first reference and those of this one, have noticed that different context. How do you see it?
Well, the truth is that I would say no, since previously what was breathed in the songs used to be the same elements as in “BAIAGOAN”. Melancholic environments, emotional moments, cathartic explosions, epic, etc. In a way, the new album follows a line of continuity from the previous “Athalase”.
Perhaps you have thrown a little more electronic elements in this work, compared to the previous one. Do you like to evolve and experiment with new sounds and set yourself new challenges? Although it may be early to decide, do you see yourself following a different path in your future creations, or do you live comfortably with the instrumental you practice now?
Electronics has been an apprenticeship from the beginning. We were clear that we were going to use it, but we have had to learn how to use it properly. Every time we see more prominence and surely later it will have even more weight since it gives us a richer texture to the landscapes that we want to create.
Before closing, let’s talk briefly about the design that surrounds all of this. A completely winter cover, which is very bad precisely with the days in which we are doing this interview. What does that choice respond to?
This photo was sent to us by a friend and from the first moment we knew it was going to end up being a cover. We really liked the calm that it transmits. We think it fits perfectly with what you find later on the album, since there are many melodies that can transmit the same calm that we saw in that tree.