Oneohtrix Point Never
I feel pretty lucky to have known Daniel Lopatin for over a year now and be treated regularly to his swirling synthetic creations. Most of you know him as the mad man behind Oneohtrix Point Never, but he's also dabbled in various other projects like Infinity Window, Skyramps, & Dania Shapes. With Judy at his fingertips, he's a man on a mission. I'm not exactly sure what that mission entails, but at the very least it involves a lot of analog goodness. His recent mini-masterpiece, "Zones Without People," just dropped on Arbor and I suggest you lap it up before it fades out into the ether.
My family was a huge influence on me -- my dad was in a Russian psych pop band called The Flying Dutchmen back in the 60s, and my mom was classically trained on piano and was a student of musicology, so this had a great impact on me in terms of immersion and passion and openness to music of all kinds. I was always drawn to the negative space in Beatles songs; the production or the ambiance always felt like where all the magic was happening, and that never really wavered although I am severely jealous of people who can write perfect pop songs. My dad had a Maxell C90 with Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire on one side, and Return To Forever - Where Have I Known You Before? on the other side, and that tape was the turning point when I really started thinking about being a musician myself and making epic instrumental music. When I was 16, and I started playing in a jam band with my best friends. It wasn't until the summer before college that I started messing around with samplers, and erasing all of my dad's organ and electric piano sounds on his keyboard and replacing them with white noise and laser beam sounds. Total nerd-style rite of passage.
Judy, my Roland Juno-60. I guess it officially became mine when my dad retired from the Russian Restaurant circuit and I started messing around with it all the time, but technically its still his. I guess if he decides to pull an Eddie and the Cruisers tomorrow, I have absolutely no leverage. Out of the few synths I have in my arsenal, Judy is the only one I know like the back of my hand. She's definitely my Lucille.
In college I was in a synth pop band called The Debras. At the same time as The Debras I was recording my senior thesis music project, which I released years later under the name Dania Shapes. Then I was in a synth-noise trio called Astronaut. I've also worked closely with filmmaker Justin Lerner over the years, scoring his short films.
There's a local soft rock station in Boston called Magic 106.7 so it was a play on that. One and Zero is of course computer binary code... tricks are about manipulation... point never is about infinity...so those are the elements. But here's where it gets annoying... when I spelled it out, it looked like this mystical Japanese hi fi corporation name, and I started pronouncing it "On-eeyo-tricks." That particular iteration stuck with me, but its somewhat contentious because people say it all kinds of different ways and in a democracy, the people should have the final say, right? So I want to go on the record now and say that any way you want to pronounce it is totally legit. I recommend "OPN" because its easy and has an NIN vibe to it.
ZWP is the sequel to "Betrayed in the Octagon," and the second installment in a trilogy of OPN records coming out this year, ending with "Russian Mind" (Coming out in October on No Fun Productions). The arc of the trilogy involves me gradually shifting away from purely retro synth vibes and towards a sort of abstract, heavily frankensteined OPN world of sound. So whereas Octagon is all about letting the synths go commando per se, "Zones Without People" is about me bending them to my will. That process is located partially in the melodic staging of a track, but mostly I'm talking about heavy duty computer editing. ZWP for me is a retrofuturistic work -- I wanted to make a record that was oblique and liminal in terms of style but could still be experienced holistically, as an album-experience. That said I was consciously pulling elements from noise, computer music, new age, soundtracks -- stuff like that.
Big Baller! Keith Whitman recommended I talk to him long before I ever did, but it was Taylor and I that decided to contact him with the demos for Artificial Midnight. He dug it and we've been close ever since. Arbor is such a great label, not just simply in terms of how prolific it is, but the quality and care put into each release is undeniable. The 2x Ferraro LP he's about to drop is immense, look out.
You know I can't remember whose idea it was. John and I met at a gig at Twisted Village in 2007 and we've been scheming on stuff ever since. He's a total freak and bleeds music. Read the kosmiche guide he did for Self-Titled to get a fraction of a sense of what I'm talking about. What's most striking about some of his solo work, particularly Lilypad stuff is how totally isolationist, loner synth it gets. LSD Family Reunion was born a lost classic.
ZWP is in part about modern day isolation; the way we willfully block out human noise and sculpt our environments to suit our need for solace. An example of that might be headphones. I don't wanna give too much more away.
Picking just one is tough. Here's a few -- John Lennon - Woman, Fleetwood Mac - Little Lies, Spirit - Looking Into Darkness. There's tons though, that's what makes pop so sick.
Making RM was an act of compulsion during a pretty bleak time, so that is a big part of it. It's not as much a synth record as it is an electronic record if that makes sense. With the exception of the title track and a track called "Grief And Repetition" which was the first thing I ever recorded, RM is a return to making heavy-edit computer music. I spent way more time building out the tracks than I did jamming for source material. It's also less divisive than its predecessors; I didn't have anything to prove with RM and I wasn't trying to undermine previous iterations of myself as a composer, which is a habit of mine. I worked from the gut and tried to make the kind of electronic record that I'd listen to for its sheer beauty vibes. I don't know what other people will think but hopefully it will touch them that way.
That's a great question. I give them a copy of everything. My dad falls asleep usually but I don't think that's a bad thing really. My mom is really into it although she told me in earnest a few days ago that she didn't like anything I did prior to ZWP and "Russian Mind." That's what's awesome about Russian parents though, they have no concept of self-esteem so you're always getting the cold, hard facts.
I'm reading an amazing Stanislaw Lem book called Imaginary Magnitude which is a collection of fake introductions to books that don't exist. It's totally OPN style.
I'm perpetually inspired by DJ Premier. His ear is brilliant -- he isolates the richest spots in a jam and sculpts crazy asymmetrical loops with them. The best example of that is Robin Hood Theory on Moment of Truth, or his beat on Group Home - Livin' Proof. He's one of my biggest heroes.
Yeah dude Ajilvsga is bananas to pronounce. Good name though -- what's it mean? IW is finishing up our second full-length and it's a major detour from the IW of old -- we've added Jordan Redaelli (mem. Coconuts) on voice, drum machines and synths, and we were lucky to have Okkyung Lee and Marcia Bassett jam on the record as well, so it's a gnarler. Looking forward finishing that up and hopefully hitting the west coast in January with the boys. This winter I'll begin composing the score for a feature film -- I wish I could tell you more but the MPAA is listening -- it's pretty insane though and takes place in my hometown -- and one of the vampires from Twilight is in it.
Upstairs CDR is all about extending my aesthetic interests beyond the projects I'm directly participating in. It's also very clear on its free culture ethics -- all releases will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. It's also an outlet for recent safari expeditions I've taken to Second Life as a screenshot photographer. This Fall expect Radio Scenic Dip Vol. 1 -- the inaugural Upstairs compilation, as well as CDRs from Nonhorse, Flower Man, and Long Island's best kept secret Shaun Trujillo. He sourced audio from John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness and made a noise masterpiece with it. Basically I started the label so that I could put Shaun's stuff out.
Richard Youngs - Like A Neuron
Go green baby.
-- Brad Rose (20 August, 2009)