Interview: O$VMV$M

O$VMV$M is a duo made up of Bristol’s Amos Childs, aka Jabu, and Sam Barrett, aka Neek. Their music is a strange collage built from samples from throughout the eras, and the effective is unsettling, placing the listener in a strange, other-worldly environment. Having first put out a tape called Memoryz Ov U on No Corner last year, they soon followed that with a self-titled album for Idle Hands. They’ve returned to that label with another self-titled record (the two differentiated by their artwork and label categories: IDLE026 and IDLE038), and we spoke to the duo ahead of its release about label boss Chris Farrell, the closure of fabric and the perfect setting for their esoteric music.

Can you tell me some of your favourite old films and songs?

Amos: I really like old soul and rocksteady and stuff like that. I’ve been kind of obsessed with a tune called ‘I Should Be Loving You‘ by The Enchanters ever since my girlfriend showed it to me. As far as old films go there are a few that stick in my mind but I don’t really watch loads of films. I remember loving the version of Flash Gordon with Queen doing the soundtrack and watching it with my Dad when I was little.
Sam: I love 70s horror and 80s b-movies, like Dawn of the Dead, The Brood, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death etc. I actually watch so many films, searching for samples constantly. As far as old music goes obviously I like dub and reggae but also blues artists like Skip James, Son House and Robert Johnson. I find the really early recordings quite eerie and full of dread.

The first time I listened to the new album properly I was tired and hungover, slightly confused and nearly lost in a foreign city (Kraków) for the first time. The anachronistic nature of the album really sunk in as I looked at the combination of old and new architecture, especially as the air had turned cold and fallen leaves were all around. What do you think is the best setting to listen to your music?

Amos: Not sure, that sounds pretty good though to be honest. A lot of the older ones, especially, me and Sam would make after work so we’d be pretty tired and delirious, so any situation where you’re knackered and you’ve had about 4,000 cups of tea (demand by Sam) would be a good place to start I think.

Sam: (Sips cup of tea) I think a good setting can be at home with time to relax or a journey on your own in the car. It’s music to just absorb and the less being done while listening the better!

Even the artwork follows that lost-in-time feeling, what was the inspiration there?

Amos: A lot of it is just us having fun. We go out down East Street, grab a weird book from a charity shop then just go through and choose the best pictures. We try and play off the music I suppose, there’s a kind of playful thing in both and the obvious cut/paste connections to samples and stuff. Some of it is just us trying to make each other laugh with the most stupid pictures as well, like this fucking ‘hairiest man in history’ picture that Sam has been trying (unsuccessfully) to hide on some artwork for about a year and a half now.
Sam: Yeah with the artwork it naturally led on from me and A doing the posters for Young Echo events. The collage technique definitely references the method in which the music is created. I like using images from different times and hopefully it will make people question what the image and the music means. Also I prefer handmade artwork over an overly slick looking thing.

Words like ‘haunting’ and ‘ghostly’ come to mind when listening to your music, but there’s also a real sense of fun, as if you’re having a great time making it. How much is it tongue in cheek?

Amos: Yeah like I said some of it is us just having a laugh together, neither of us really fit into the whole serious electronic musician thing in a lot of ways. Sam’s got a real knack for finding really good samples in unlikely places too, so even if it sounds great it might have come from some stupid scene in a b-movie horror film where someone’s getting their arm pulled off or something. We tend to make our songs really quickly as well, so there’s no time for us to get bored of it – we’ll just do it and then start a new one straight away until we can’t be bothered with it any more.
Sam: I agree with Amos that we don’t fit the serious musician template, I think it’s more just us having fun with the music than it being tongue in cheek. There is room for a sense of humour in all art forms and I feel like we can bring ours to the experimental music world.

There’s a hint of UK funky at one point in Memoryz of U – do you have a favourite subgenre, British or otherwise?

Amos: I love the 80s stuff at the moment like British soul and lovers is great. Thinking about English music is the only time I’ve ever really felt there was anything to be proud of about coming from here. I think there are a lot of very British reference points in our music -grime, jungle, hardcore, sound system stuff – it’s all in there I guess somewhere, you just have to play the tracks backwards and speed them up by 300% to hear it all.
Sam: As A says we reference a lot of British dance music in different ways in the music, everything he said are my favourites, haha!

Someone commented “who tagged this as vaporwave lol ???” under your self-titled album on Discogs, what do you make of that?

Amos: I know I had to get Sam to explain what vaporwave was after that. I don’t mind. He thinks we’re a Cloud Rap band, so it’s all good. Fog Rap.
Sam: I get the vaporwave tag, there are unintentional similarities in some of the tunes for sure. I wouldn’t class us as that though, as all the tracks are so different, so I’m not sure which scene we tie in with! The forthcoming album by ManOnMars, fully produced by us, is definitely Cloud Rap though.

Can you talk about your name? It’s an anagram of sorts, right?

Amos: It’s just an anagram of Amos and Sam with some stupid symbols thrown in.

What’s Chris like as a label boss? We spoke to him a few years back and we’ve heard his side of things, but what’s it like on the other end?

Amos: Haha, he’s not so bad once you get to know him I suppose. Nah to be fair to him he actually cooked me and Sam dinner when he was first talking to us about a record with him, then once he knew he had us ensnared it felt like he’s never really made the effort again. Should be 1 Bolognese per record as far as I’m concerned.
Sam: Chris is great and has always been really open to our ideas and let us do our own thing with the music. He is great at curating a tracklist too!

You’ve just done the one remix, and that was of Creta Kano’s ‘Skyway 81’ for fellow Bristol label Happy Skull. Was that a family and friends kind of thing? Would you do another? How did you approach that one?

Amos: Yeah we have known those guys for a while, Sam probably has for longer than me, Bristol is not a big place. We just approached it like we were doing a new tune and used the stems as samples, the original tune is wicked but I don’t see the point in doing remixes that sound like the original, so we did just something different with the sounds.
Sam: We will definitely do more remixes in the future and have a few in the pipeline coming out soon!

Can I ask about the FABRICLIVE CD? Given everything that’s happened, how do you feel about its impending release?
Sam: I’m just happy it’s coming out still, and fingers crossed the series continues! It’s been a lot of work putting it together, but I hope people like something a bit different from what me and Kahn are known for. And hopefully it exposes people to some new music they hadn’t heard before.
Amos: I feel good about the CD, it’s shit that Fabric is closing but I never went so it’s not got the same emotional weight for me.

What’s next for O$VMV$M?
Sam: We obviously have the new 12″ coming on Idle Hands very soon, a limited 7″ forthcoming and some off kilter dancehall in the works.

Amos: We’ve been working on an album with ManOnMars, which should hopefully be out next year, so keep an eye out for that. I’ve got a Jabu record in the pipeline too, so keep an eye on that if you’re interested.

O$VMV$M – O$VMV$M is out now on Idle Hands; FABRICLIVE 90 – Kahn & Neek is out now on Fabric Records

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...