With Hallucinogen In Dub, freelance producer turned freetrance seducer Ott has set a new benhmark in what can be done with trance. We caught up with him one unusually mild British October evening, and talked about music, porn, the size of his mouth and why his cat’s on the album…
"It’s supposed to be heard as one album. It was supposed to be the Anti-Hallucinogen!"
damion: Okay. So, where are you, how are the vibes, and what did you get up to at the weekend?
Ott: I’m sitting in my studio, in Somerset… and its lovely. All the doors and windows open (uncannily mild for nearly October). I don’t really have weekends though, every day is the weekend round here…! But the last few days I’ve been working on a tune which is a collaboration with Si Posford, Andrew Interchill, Michele [Shpongle vocalist] and me.
damion: Sounds cool – the Twisted posse seem to collaborate a lot together – it that a good way for you
Ott: I like it. This wasn’t really planned, it just sort of happened…
damion: How did the remixing for Hallucinogen come about? Was it more a collaboration or something you see as your own work (with someone else’s bricks?)
Ott: Good question! The original idea came to me in a flash one night, to take a load of Si’s tunes and mince em up… so I mentioned it to Si and he was up for it. I took his hard-drive [after much persuading] and spent the next few months holed up in my studio nailing it all together. So, really, it is a collaboration, cos its made of lots of people’s work.
damion: It’s evident from the album that a lot of time went into it. I always thought Si’s stuff would lend itself to dub nicely… did you have ideas in your head about what you wanted to do with certain tunes, or did they just sort of evolve?
Ott: No — no planning. The only thing that occurred to me before I started it was that his tunes tend to be around 140 – 150 bpm and I’m happy down in the 70 – 75 bpm end of things!
damion: Hence the slowdown on the start of mi-loony-um, right?
Ott: Yeah – the slowdown is a bit of a signpost
damion: But Gamma Goblins on the other hand seems to be a dub tune that had been in drag pretending to be a trance tune for years!
Ott: Gamma Goblins was one of the easier ones to do, it just kind of wrote itself. I was pleased with how the main melody at the beginning works with the new rhythm/tempo…
damion: Yeah, they’re made for each other…
Ott: …like it was always meant to be that slow
damion: Anyway, other than this project and the one you mentioned above, what else are you involved with at the moment?
Ott: Finishing my album! My very own, all on my own album.
damion: What’s the vibe on that then?
Ott: Just two songs to finish, and its all done. Its just lots of big old dub. Have yu heard Somersettler? My tune on Backroom Beats 1?
damion: Yup, I know it. Is the new stuff in the same style?
Ott: Its hard to say, because I don’t really set out with a style in mind. I only just rebuilt my studio, and I have a feeling its going to affect the entire way I work. So in terms of style, I’m keen to find out myself!
damion: That’s interesting – kinda quantum, like where does the studio start and the Ott finish!
Ott: Heh – VERY blurry, I’d say… we are one being
damion: Your stuff sort of reminds me of that Planet Dog / Feed Your Head / Digidub stuff – is that an influence?
Ott: Almost… When i first moved to London in 1990, all that kind of stuff was bubbling about and then all of a sudden everybody i knew was listening to Adrian Sherwood, On-U-Sound… so i was thoroughly steeped in Dub Syndicate, Gary Clail, and my sister used to listen to a lot of old Jamaican dub… Prince Far-I and all that, which also stuck with me. Oh… and African Headcharge’s "Shashmane Land"… that was a big record for me.
damion: So is there a sort of "trance thread" that runs concurrently with the dub one?
Ott: Sort of. The same guy who got me into Adrian Sherwood – a DJ mate of mine -played me my first trance tunes, and I thought "hmmm – I think I like this…" It was big thumpy music but it didn’t have any diva samples or pianos! This was about 1993 – 94, or maybe 1995… Anyway, I thought I’d have a go at it, and had a few releases as ECO – but nothing terribly impressive i’m afraid. In fact, they were cack as far as I rememeber.
damion: So have you been active on the dub scene all the way through?
Ott: No, not really. I was working as a freelance engineer/producer for most of the 90′s, working on all kinds of stuff… Brian Eno, Youth, even engineering for bands like ‘James’ for Christ’s sake!
damion: Did they keep telling you to Sit Down?
Ott: James suck[ed], but it paid well. And then I started working at Butterfly Studios in Brixton, Youth’s place, which was fucking brilliant. Two years of total madness, and that house had a life of its own. It was brilliant, the weed never ran out and it had 3 studios, AND they paid me to be there… ace. Anyway, in 1998 I finally got sick of London, grabbed my studio and ran away to the countryside to start writing my own music. Now it feels like home.
damion: So here we are now then – the present… what’s on the horizon for the next couple of years?
Ott: More of the same! I just gave up smoking (well – gave up tobacco) – so I’m a bit short tempered with studio gadgets and stuff.
damion: Maybe it’ll have you making nosebleed gabba
Ott: Well – funny yu should say that! Because usually, anything over 85bpm makes me travel sick… 115bpm sounds like gabba. But since I gave up smoking, my music has been getting faster. I think its my metabolism increasing, or some bollocks like that. I’m working here at an earsplitting 106 bpm = thats fast for me you know!
So to answer your question, what’s happening next… I intend to sit here doing this for as long as it’s fun.
damion: Do you work live too, other than the studio stuff?
Ott: I’m just in the process of putting the live thing together. I want to be able to play live next year – just got to work out the best way to do it.
damion: About Hallucinogen In Dub, out soon on Twisted Records. Is there one track that stands out for you as being a favourite?
Ott: That’s difficult, because it’s all quite recent. So i’m still hearing those tunes as if they are pieces of work to be tweaked. I usually need 4 – 6 months to forget the process of writing/recording them before I can hear them as music… but i was quite taken with Mi-Loony-Um yesterday! It’s very sloshy and gelatinous,and Angelic Particles surprised me too.
damion: In what way?
Ott: Because it came out of nowhere. I was working on it for 3 weeks, and couldn’t get it to do what I wanted. So one day at six in the morning, and after two days awake, I threw it away and started again, re-wrote it in about 6 hours. Then Simon popped round later on, and played the guitars on it…. then I mixed it, which took no time. But I love the sound of it.
damion: Did Simon add a lot of the guitar on the album?
Ott: Yeah, he plays guitar on every one of them – except one (I think).
damion: Is that a real melodica on the album?
Ott: Yeah. I have 2 melodicas, I love em. I love that Augustus Pablo thing…
damion: Can you play them both at once – I mean, have you tried?
Ott: Hah! I only have a very small mouth the size of a Polo Mint. I like to try to keep things as live as possible, cos when you’re working on computers, things can get rinsed out pretty easily. So the melodica adds a sort of naive wobbliness. And I play most of the percussion too.
damion: A lot of chilled trancey releases get lost in the digital-ness.
Ott: Yeah – you can have too much silicone and plastic – I like to mix in a bit of wood and metal… microphones and shit.
damion: Your studio sounds like a playground – is it like that?
Ott: Oh, yeah. It keeps me occupied! I just set up Studio 2, which is entirely analogue.
damion: Favourite bit of kit?
Ott: Well, favourite is my old EMS System 2000 vocoder. But the most useful has to be the PC. It’s amazing what you can coax a glorified word-processor into doing these days!
damion: I heard you use a lot of plugins and such, and like messing about with software…?
Ott: Yeah. I love to trawl the net looking for mad boffins making their own stuff, lots of Freware Plugins.
damion: Whos the "maddest boffin" you found?
Ott: A fella called Idris, who makes plugins with one knob on the front, with no labels.
damion: Are they on the Hallucinogen in Dub album?
Ott: Yeah, everything’s on that album. My car is on that album… my fridge, my cat. Even my central heating gets a look in!
damion: So how many sources of sound – analogue, digital, environmental – would you say went into the album?
Ott: Woah, too many to imagine. I’m very wasteful when I work, so you’re actually hearing about 20% of what I actually generated.
damion: So will you be working with Simon some more?
Ott: Oh yeah, we’re plotting and planning. He only lives a few miles away, so we see each other quite a lot.
damion: In which case, do you know if he’s doing more Hallucinogen stuff – ‘cos thats what everyone wants to know – but when I interviewed him earlier this year he wouldn’t say!
Ott: You’ll have to ask him – I couldn’t possibly comment!
damion: Are you aware simon said this about you years ago: "He lives in a limestone cave in Hicksville, where he built a generator out of an old lawnmower engine, and cobbled together a studio out of bits of old televisions. – He works on an old 32k BBC microcomputer built into his chair, suspended from the roof. He has midi shoes, with which he ‘tapdances’ his drum parts…. But he has excellent mixing ears, which he enhances with a kind of Far-extension-hat…. so he was a natural choice to mix beautiful people…… I didn’t have time to do it, as I was doing "Mi-Loony-um’, and he stepped in to do "Beautiful People" so I would have them both for Christmas! I paid him with pornography."
Ott: Ahhh – the old "Cave" days…. Yeah – they were good times, and I’m still wanking my way through
damion: Ahem. Some of the drums on the album sound fucking huuuuge – are they live? Or what
special trix did you use on them? Like on Solstice, they sound like they’re recorded from underwater,
but not. (if you see what i mean). It’s a hefty smokey sound – like venison…
Ott: Hahaha! Well, I have a few bits of seriously lo-tech outboard, other people’s junk, which i stick
most of the sounds through because it "un-digitalises" it a bit.The drums on Solstice were recorded
onto a cassette and re-sampled to make them sound all squashy… a Boots Chrome 90 if i remember
right! I was doing stuff like setting up a speaker in my kitchen, piping the drums through it, and
recording the room sound with a microphone to make it all a bit more organic.
damion: Sort of like using old production techniques to make electronic music?
Ott: Exactly. I started engineering before computers were up to the job of recording, so I’ve used tape a
lot and I like what it does. I’m also keen on spring/plate reverbs, analogue effects (cos they react if you
damion: Well, that’s pretty much all I wanted to ask…
Ott: Okay… my turn to ask questions then!
Ott: favourite tune on Hallucinogen in Dub?
damion: LSD. Or angelic particles
damion: Bit biased toward LSD, as it was the first (proper) trance tune I heard.
Ott: How about your least favourite?
damion: It hangs together well as an album, which I dont think people were expecting. It doesn’t sound
like remixes in other words.
Ott: It’s supposed to be heard as one album. It was supposed to be the Anti-Hallucinogen!
Interview (c) 2002 www.psyreviews.com
Hallucinogen In Dub, remixed by Ott, is released on Twisted in October 02.