Interview: Oscar + Martin
Posted in Interviews
"We have to be inventive to get the sounds interesting."
It's really hard to come by a genuine love album with an organic feel these days. Most are filled with overstated cliches and contrived sentiments that provide no deeper meaning than what you find on the surface. But every now and then, one album comes along that describes the feeling in poet-like wonder to make you reexamine your perspective.
Back in April, Australia's Oscar + Martin released their heartfelt and warm record For You. This is not any ordinary love album folks. It's filled with complex metaphors that scream unbridled passion in its purest of forms. Furthermore, the duo experiments with toy instruments, which does wonders for their tunes as it mirrors the childlike whimsy and fickle nature of love. It's a refreshing take on our most interesting and sometimes untenable emotion.
You guys seem to have a healthy fetish with toy instruments. Do you find that this forces you to attack your composition differently than a more traditional approach to song writing?
Martin: The toy instrument thing comes more out of poverty rather than fetishism. Oscar and I didn't really luck out on the rich parents thing, and so we never had anyone to buy us some fuck-off expensive synths. As soon as we get ourselves some rich parents happenin', Oscar + Martin will be so Vangelis.
...But yeah, the limitations of using crappy kids keyboards does influence the way our music develops. We have to be inventive to get the sounds interesting.
"My Blood" is just an amazing tune full of pure emotion. What's the story behind it? Was it difficult to morph the message/emotion into song?
Oscar: Thank you! It came pretty easy actually. It's the type of song that you can write while walking or riding, or just waiting at a train station or something, because it's mainly vocal based. To me it has a kind of doo wop aesthetic. I think it's pretty unrestrained in its emotion and message; I didn't hold back giving it all away at the time love-wise. Interestingly though, once it was recorded I always felt quite sorry for myself. I think I sound pretty pathetic in a way. It took a while to not be embarrassed while showing it to people.
How do you know when you've finished a song?
Martin: Oscar and I are pretty savage perfectionists. I tend to write my verses 4 or 5 times before I'm happy with them. I know Oscar has about 5 or 6 entirely different arrangements of the one song he is working on at the moment. So I guess the track is finished when you can't bare to work on it anymore, or when when you run out of time to keep picking at one line or other.
Oscar: For sure. And it's sort of when you can bear to listen to the song with out criticizing it, just being able to enjoy it.
When and where did you guys write For You?
Martin: Most of For You was written as catharsis when Oscar's girl dropped him.... But the chorus hook in "What I Know" was written when I was traveling with my girl in europe a couple years ago. I had just a mini tape player and one or two loops I was working on. I just ended up singing this line again and again. The rest of the song wasn't written until I brought it to Oscar. In my verse, I'm trying to sympathise with the way Oscar was feeling at the time and reflecting on my own breakup experiences.
What's in the future for O+M?
Martin: We are in the middle of a tour at the moment, playing Meretdith this weekend and we'll finish up at Falls. We're also laying with Matronomy in January. I think after all that we might take a little break to work on some new stuff... Oscar is working on a couple of projects at the moment: an album with Brothers Hand Mirror and some solo stuff. I'm working on an album with my other project the Harpoons. So we keep pretty busy.