Gang Colours is our Band Of The Week. We caught up with Will Ozanne to talk about his music. We also talked about pancakes (it’s Shrove Tuesday, remember) and his favourite bands at the moment. Have a read.
You grew up in Southampton. What was the music scene like growing up there? I remember going down a few times to watch some shitty punk/rock bands…
My experiences with the music scene In Southampton growing up weren’t too bad really. There isn’t an abundance of clubs but there’s enough to cater to your party needs, and a lot of people who are really passionate about getting good artists to come down and play. We have a few really good venues for live things too which I don’t take advantage of as much as I should. One venue called The Joiners is notorious for great live bookings. I remember seeing the Klaxons there a few years ago just as they had released their first album – it was one big dark mosh pit with glowsticks flying in the air by the truckload and I think I bruised my knee desperately trying to get on stage just after the show. I didn’t make it on the stage. But I had an incredible time.
You’ve cited a range of influences (from The Streets to Antony and The Johnsons) – who out of all of them do you think has had the most effect on the way you think about and approach music?
I think they all have an effect on the way I make music some way or another. From Mike Skinner’s emotionally driven garage inspired grooves to the haunting ambience of Antony’s piano and voice combined. What they all share in common is that they are brutally honest and incredibly creative and those are all attributes I try to bring when writing music.
In your album you mix a range of sounds, from samples of every day sounds, to vocal samples, to piano chords. Was that what you were consciously aiming for in this album – a mix of traditional music and the new sample-based, electronic approach?
Before I immersed myself into the delights of the electronic music scene I was listening to whatever I could grab without the aid of the Internet. I had a Dire Straits tape that me and my friend used to listen to a lot, maybe some Wet Wet Wet too if we were lucky and then whatever my mum was listening to on the drive to school (usually BBC Radio 2). I then developed a taste for Tupac and all things hip-hop later on down the line which, as we know, is a genre that champions relentless sample manipulation. I think due to influences like these it felt very natural to make the music I make now, so I don’t think it was an overly conscious decision to mix traditional elements with electronica – it was just the way I made music that I enjoyed and felt represented me.
Digital vs analogue: which would win in a fight?
It’s a hard one to answer as I would be nowhere without digital audio workstations and all their lovely plugins and softwares that come along with it. But then wouldn’t digital be nowhere without analogue having been there to start with? I don’t know really. I guess I’ve grown up in the ‘digital age’ so it would seem obvious to lean towards digital in a fight but, relying on all things digital can have its downsides – like reliability. My computer could melt at any second and I’d lose everything. And my piano will always be there to pick up the pieces. Let’s just shake hands and say it’s a draw!
Read any good books recently?
Not really! Just reading someone’s autobiography at the moment – don’t know if it’s my thing. I think I might read ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu next. I want to be able to get something out of a book rather than reading about the tedious humble beginnings of a super-rich celebrity. Although having said that, I still want to read Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography ‘Scar Tissue’. So I guess I am still attracted to that kind of book, I just happen to be reading a rather average one at the moment.
It’s Pancake Day! I love a pancake: nutella and banana, sugar & lemon, and strawberries & whipped cream & ice cream are my favourites. What’s yours? Are American pancakes the devil? What about crepes? What are your thoughts on savoury crepes? I had a ratatouille and cheese crepe once and it was very nice.
I keep it pretty simple when it comes to pancakes. My topping preference has and always will be sugar and lemon. Nothing else comes close to that combination for me so I don’t waste my time with anything else! American pancakes are too thick and cakey for me, although I’m sure if I had some authentic ones from America served up in front of me with some bacon or something then I would go to town on it. As for crepes, I think I’ve only experienced them once on a family holiday to Tunisia years ago. I remember them being very nice. Think it was a sugar and lemon vibe again on that one. Mixing it up with the savoury is definitely not my thing.
Which new artists would you tip for success this year (apart from yourself)?
There are many new artists emerging that are going to do great things this year I think. I’ve been listening to New Look’s album A LOT and think that it’s going to be welcomed by the masses for its perfectly crafted dance/pop attributes. Flako seems to be going from strength to strength with each of his releases too, not sure what his plans are for the year though, or if he’s actually that ‘new’ either.
I guess one to look out for that you might not have heard of yet is my friend Jack who makes music under the name Pedestrian. He makes all kinds of tunes, from delicate experimental electronica (featuring his own vocals) to straight up club bangers. He will be on your iTunes soon, if not already.
Last five things you put on your iPod?
I never had an iPod for some reason. When I’m walking about I like to hear what’s going on in real life, then you know when it’s a good time to whip out the dictaphone and start sampling! But I do have a laptop with iTunes so the last five things I put on there are as follows:
1. New look – New look (LP)
2. Raja – Colour (LP)
3. Dirg Gerner – Preface (EP)
4. Arthur Russell – World of Echo (LP)
5. Thelonious Monk – Straight, no Chaser (LP)
Plans for 2012? Do you fancy playing any festivals?
Well, apart from getting the album out, I have some other material I’m working on that I’m excited about which will make its way to the surface this year at some point, I’m sure. I’m also developing the live show, which you will be able to see at some festivals this year no doubt.
What are your favourite festivals to go to?
I’ve been to Bestival a few times now and like the general vibe and attention to detail that the festival provides (plus I’ve got a thing for the Isle of Wight). But I’ve never been to any abroad and would really like to explore some festivals in foreign areas. The Gilles Peterson Worldwide Festival in Sete sounds very attractive to me this year!