Saddle Creek | O+S | Reviews




Author: Jaynelle Ramon
03/15/2009 | Arizona Daily Star | | Feature
Normally the band story is as follows: guy or girl wants to start a band, asks friends to join or puts ads in an alternative weekly or on the bulletin board of a music store. New band warms up with some covers, begins writing originals and eventually begins performing beyond the privacy and safety of their dingy practice space.

But that's not how Orenda Fink (of Azure Ray and Art in Manila) and Scalpelist (a.k.a Cedric Lemoyne, formerly of Remy Zero) roll. Fink, a self-described "restless spirit," accumulated field recordings of street sounds from locales as diverse as Alabama and Haiti as part of her residency at Omaha's Bemis Center of Contemporary Arts. After assessing this arsenal of inspiration, she realized that the recordings would be the perfect foundation for a new project, so she contacted her longtime friend and fellow Alabaman Cedric LeMoyne to discuss a collaboration.

That collaboration, titled O+S, came together easily, despite the fact the overwhelming bulk of it was written in different states. The self-titled album is a collection of dreamy, atmospheric and glossy pop soundscapes which bring to mind the breezy electro pop of Zero 7, the scarred beauty of Portishead and swirling sensuality of Autolux, along with the band's listed influences of The Cocteau Twins, Julee Cruise and David Lynch films.

The album comes out on March 24 on Saddle Creek Records, a label that Fink has a lot of history with, and is already off to a promising start. Los Angeles tastemaker radio station KCRW has chosen the track "We Do What We Want to Do" as the Top Tune for March 16. The next evening, Tuesday March 17, O+S will perform as part of WXSW at Plush in Tucson, while on their way to perform at Austin's SXSW.

It's known that you are both longtime friends, but what drove you to begin working together after knowing each other for years?

Cedric and I have always stayed close throughout the years, using each other as confidants and sounding boards in both personal and musical realms. We had talked about collaborating throughout the years, but had both been busy with other projects. When the Bemis residency came up, I felt that I needed a collaborator to help achieve my vision for the project and Cedric came to mind. We both agreed that it would provide a good opportunity to see how we worked together musically.

Did you build songs around your field recordings or did you incorporate them into songs that you had already written? What other inspirations went into this album?

We did both actually. Mostly we built songs around loops that were created from the field recordings. However, there were some songs that we had composed independently. For those, we experimented with adding textural layers and loops from the field recordings. I used the field recordings as sonic inspiration mostly, not necessarily thematic. We just let the sounds inform the music and rhythm. The idea was to just write whatever we felt like on top of that.

Courtesy of Ink Tank PR

What exactly was so musically enkindling about Orenda's time in Haiti? Where and how can we hear this in O+S's music, outside of the obvious field recordings?

There is a lot of Haiti on the album, but mostly in obscure textural contexts. The songs are mostly love songs written over the loops. I wanted to go to Haiti to collect material for the loops because the country is so musical. There is a rhythm and musicality to almost every action there, whether it is someone sweeping streets or people hocking products at the market. It's intoxicating to be in the midst of it and I knew it would be a great place to collect sounds because of the beautiful rhythms of the daily life there.

O+S's music is dreamy, yet polished and accessible, perfect fodder for soundtracks and television for licensing. Any plans to get your music heard in TV or film?

The sound is a direct result of our collaboration. I think I bring the dreamy quality and Cedric polishes it and adds structure. I'm interested in the movie-making process and have always thought it would be fun to score a movie, so I get excited when songs of mine are placed in TV or film. You never know if it is going to happen, but I would certainly welcome it if it did.

Your album comes out on March 24 on Saddle Creek and you are currently touring with Great Northern. What are your plans for O+S down the road? Do you consider this a project or a band that will continue to write and put out music?

Cedric and I plan to keep this collaboration going indefinitely. We had a great time working together.

Orenda, you have been involved with numerous bands and projects as well as your solo work. Do you have a restless musical spirit or do you just like to mix things up?

I guess I have a restless musical spirit, maybe just a restless spirit in general. I don't like having to work within certain parameters if you don't want to. That said, hopefully I will just be focusing on my existing projects for a while.

Cedric, Remy Zero officially broke up in 2003. What have you been up to since then and have you been keen on doing a dreamy, slightly more experimental project like this for some time?

Actually what I've always been keen to do is work with Orenda. We toyed with the idea for many years and when she came to me about collaborating on this project I jumped at the chance. We're both influenced by atmospheric, late-night music like Julee Cruise and Cocteau Twins so we wanted to make an album with that mood. Then the sounds and songs she brought at the start led us naturally in that direction. Other than O+S I've continued to work with Jeffrey and Gregory from Remy Zero on many projects, including the theme to "Nip/Tuck" for which we were nominated for an Emmy, and I've played bass for Gnarls Barkley and Alanis Morissette on tour.

Saddle Creek seems like just as much of a family-type community of musicians as a record label. The Omaha-based label was founded by and is home to Conor Oberst, who is more commonly known as part of Bright Eyes, as well as Rilo Kiley, Cursive, Orenda's solo work and her other projects, Azure Ray and Art in Manila, and Orenda's husband's band, The Faint. Did your close ties with the label make it a no-brainer?

Yes, since the bulk of the record was created in Omaha, we felt that Saddle Creek would be a great home for it.


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