O+S



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O+S

Author: Matthew Martell
03/11/2009 | Seattle University Spectator | www.su-spectator.com | Feature
Orenda Fink is a prolific, relentless masochist. In her 15-year career as a musician, she's released almost a dozen records under five different monikers, relocated to three different major music scenes across the United States, toured the country countless times and smoked far too many cigarettes.

In spite of all this, Fink still possesses one of the most beautiful voices in indie music, and though she certainly has made the rounds as a musician, her career has been more or less overlooked. Her first two bands-Little Red Rocket and Azure Ray-found her playing alongside longtime friend and fellow musical-lifer Maria Taylor and living in Athens, Geo. and Omaha, Neb. respectively.

Since the dissolution of Little Red Rocket, all of Fink's releases have been on Omaha's own Saddle Creek records, and though she currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband Todd Fink (who is also the lead singer of ex-Saddle Creek group the Faint), her love for the label lies in its sense of community.

"I love [the family feel of Saddle Creek], and I think it's a necessity for me," Fink told The Spectator in an interview. "But it doesn't necessarily have to do with the record label. I've always been in big music communities. It's just something that has always helped me and worked for me."

Since Azure Ray went on hiatus in 2004, Orenda has released three different LPs-one solo, one with the now-defunct band Art In Manila, and the latest as O+S, a collaboration between herself and long-time friend Cedric LeMoyne (of Remy Zero). Her constant fluctuation between musical identities has likely prevented her from achieving any lasting recognition, and she acknowledges the fact, calling her constant name changes a way of "completely sabotaging" her musical career.

But Fink also feels the various monikers she's assumed in the last decade have helped her diversify her songwriting and come into her own as a musician. She described the creation of Art In Manilla as a longing to be surrounded by other musicians again.

"After I did the solo record, I felt like I really missed the vibe of working with other people, which is all I'd ever done up to that point," Fink said. "That's why I wanted to start Art In Manilla."

As for O+S, Fink and LeMoyne (aka Scalpelist, hence the "S") created the project as a means of collaborating together after 15 years spent as friends and admirers of each others' musical careers.

"I had never worked with Cedric [where we wrote songs together] before," Fink said. "We didn't know how if it was going to work, but we ended up working very well together and were very inspired by each other."

In contrast to most of Fink's previous work, which largely showcased folk and pop arrangements laid beneath her angelic voice, O+S found LeMoyne and Fink piecing together songs by combining traditional songwriting methods with electronic, loop-based production. Fink said the process of combining loop-based music with live recording felt like creating a musical quilt.

"I did a lot of field recordings [in preparing for the record]," Fink said. "Cedric would go through the recordings and make loops, and then I'd go over those loops and write lyrics to fit them."

But in contrast to loop-based records like Panda Bear's "Person Pitch" or DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing…," O+S's eponymous debut hardly feels electronic. Instead, the record's songs take on a childlike simplicity, as Fink's voice wafts over ambient noises and simple guitar progressions like a breeze across a prairie.

"[The record] doesn't sound like what you think of generally as loop driven music because all those loops are organic in a way," Fink said. "They're essentially untreated, just looped."

O+S will be performing their inaugural show in Seattle at the Sunset Tavern March 11. But rather than simply playing a sampler and a guitar for the crowd, LeMoyne and Fink will be backed by five friends, and the songs on "O+S" will be orchestrated for a seven-piece band.

Though her tour with O+S has just begun, Fink already has plans for future musical projects.

"I think what I'd like to do is have O+S, and I think I'm going to have other solo records as well," Fink said. "And there will hopefully be another Azure Ray record too … but I'm going to stop changing my name."
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