Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
San Francisco-based producer oOoOO (aka Chris Dexter) made his name by crafting bewitching soundscapes from fragments of pop culture; his debut album proper 'Without Your Love', released last month on his own imprint Nihjgt Feelings, was described in the Dummy review as being full of "hook-filled pop songs that have had concrete blocks tied to their feet and and been thrown to swim with the fishes". His sound is all about using re-appropriation and removal to create a warped, unique atmosphere, which is why we thought he'd be the perfect candidate to take part in our occasional Found Sound series, in which we ask artists from all over the world to send us the field recordings and unearthed sounds that inspire them. Dexter dove deep into Youtube to extract some truly bizarre sounds for his offering, and not only that, but he's collated them into a luscious and genuinely unnerving five minute track. Listen to/download that here, and read our chat about his unique ways of listening to the world below.
Hi, oOoOO! Could you tell us a bit about this found sound?
It started with a simple youtube search for something like "depressed girl story." Something like that. I listened to a handful of peoples' laments before I came across this one. I was really moved by it. Its terribly naive and a bit inarticulate, but she's just a teenager. But the ideas themselves are really beautiful, sad and pretty universally felt it seems. This realisation that the world is set up to perpetuate mundane ways of living at the expense of rich inner life is a sort of tragic right of passage for all intelligent or sensitive people. I built the rest around that. Sadly I think the video's been pulled from Youtube. I tried to find it recently but couldn't.
Have you ever used this Youtube-trawling technique in your actual music?
All the time, yeah. Sometimes I even want to field record a specific sound somewhere and either forget or don't have time, and I've been able to find what I want on Youtube. Like the sounds of specific subway trains, for example.
What's the weirdest Youtube clip included in the mix here?
Several videos people've made and posted of their tea kettles whistling.
How do you think the sounds you hear every day (both in the real and virtual worlds) shape your approach to your music?
Music is more and more unmusical, I think. Virtuosity with a particular instrument has become less interesting than the virtuosity involved in choosing and arranging textures of all sorts. So rather than spending hours each day, say, practicing the piano, I'm involved with more of a day to day listening practice. Learning to hear all the sounds around me as potentially musical elements. In the past I actually had to lay sounds over on the computer to feel discover they would work together. Now I can kind of do that pretty well in my head. Its actually quite a nice way to be in the world, because everything I hear around me – because I've trained myself to be listening in this way – has become kind of a musical practice. It never ends. I'm always deep in the music making process. I notice the richness of sonic detail all around me that I was kind of unaware of before.
Your beautiful LP 'Without Your Love' has been out for a little while now; do you ever hear new things in it when you revisit it?
I can't listen to it. I'm still terribly sick of if. Maybe in six months I'll be able to have a listen.
If you could sum up your mood right now in one sound, what would it be?
Well, there's one of those famous Los Angeles police helicopters circling around above the building I'm in right now, so its pretty much dominating the mood.
Nihjgt Feelings released 'Without Your Love' on the 24th June 2013.