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Oneohtrix Point Never Wants to Make You Hallucinate

We caught up with Daniel Lopatin ahead of his performances at Sydney's VIVID this month.
Image from YouTube.

Photo courtesy of Warp Records.

Six months on from the release of the critically acclaimed Garden of Delete (G.O.D), fans and detractors alike are still picking apart the infinite allegorical layers between Daniel Lopatin's "fictional" backstories and auditory mindfucks. While we're all still confused as hell, epitomizing his fan cult allure has been a hobby since forever. It's important to note thatOneohtrix Point Never's art fucking with our minds bleeds into all areas of his output, including the sensory overload in its live incarnation.


This time around, the performance includes long-time collaborator, Nate Boyce on guitars and live visual manipulations. Boyce's been working with Lopatin since 2009, creating CGI worlds made up of replica images and sculptures.

"It's not really supposed to complement the music," Boyce recently told The Creators Project about their recent live shows. "It does end up being complementary at times, but we like the video to complicate or confuse how you feel about the music. People wanting a totally complimentary or consonant audio visual experience will probably be disappointed, annoyed, or agitated."

Ahead of his performances at Sydney's VIVID festival this year—both as OPN and as one of the co-producers of Anohni's new record HOPELESSNESS—THUMP spoke to Lopatin about making people hallucinate, on record and onstage.

THUMP: A constant description in live reviews of your live shows is "mindfuck." Do you intend on having this effect on people?

OPN: Cool, that's good. I definitely strive towards something I think of as a hallucination of music. That's always been the OPN vibe. I think of it as mostly a felt thing, and a koan of feeling that is shared between me and OPN fans. We know what it is when it gets there.

What live performances have inspired you the most?

I think seeing Nine Inch Nails up close and personal for a couple weeks was probably the most awe-inspiring one just on a visceral level. Just as important were the endless amounts of noise shows I saw in the early 2000s in Boston, which taught me a lot about improvisation and sculpting stories out of raw sound.


Speaking of NIN, your tour with them in 2014 is pretty famous. Obviously a larger percentage of the audience might not have been familiar with your work. Did you alter your performance in any way to bridge tastes?

Pretty sure that I did the opposite of that, but I don't think I traumatized anyone.

Read More: Oneohtrix Point Never Told Us the Story Behind Every Single Track on 'Garden of Delete'

Your live show is different now that you've got your long time visual/video collaborator Nate Boyce on guitars. Can you tell us a little about that?

Nate's a great guitarist and synth programmer, so it was something that always appealed to me. Since there's a lot of synthesized guitar stuff happening on G.O.D. it wasn't hard to justify having Nate play those parts or further embellish those types of sounds.

How did you come to collaborate with him initially?

We met through a mutual friend, Robert Beatty, who is an artist and musician from Lexington, Kentucky. He had done some album art for me and sent me Nate's work, which I thought was the perfect visual analogue to the stuff I was doing musically. I think the first conversation we had was about how playing a really simple repetitive game like Wolfenstein 3D is kind of like a musical hallucination, meaning that you're experiencing what you're seeing as a sort of music because of the repetition of it. We think about stuff in similar ways.

How and where did you prepare your live show for this tour?


We prepared up at EMPAC in Troy, NY, which was kind enough to give us a residency. A lot of it is worked out on the road, getting a sense of whether or not the choices you made during rehearsals are actually good ones, activate the rooms and the crowds in a way, satiating the desire to thrash up there and have fun with it, express something visceral. It's hard to pre-plan.

How much do your albums differ in the live setting?

In the past they differed completely. I'd make a record and then basically make a whole other set of music based on the stems that was more geared towards performance and building towards these recognizable figures and motifs from the ground up. I would say what's fun about performing the G.O.D. stuff is that they're very close in structure to the recordings and that most of the work is in finding that level beyond what's already there, like the spirit of the thing—and then addressing that in the way we perform the material. It's as close to the experience of being in a rock band as OPN has gotten.

Read More: Oneohtrix Point Never's "I Bite Through It" Is Going to Tweak Out Your Brain

You're working with DJ Earl on his latest album. How did that come about? Can you tell us about that collaboration? I heard that you wanted him to record for your label Software. Is that happening?

Yeah, I'm pumped for everyone to hear it. His rec was slated as a SFT release but the label is going on hiatus, and I didn't feel good about him waiting around, so we all felt really good about Teklife putting it out. I played some keys on it and did some arrangements.

You're also performing one of the first live performances of HOPELESSNESS with Anohni at Vivid LIVE. What has it been like collaborating with her?

It's been great. We're old friends at this point, and this record is very dear to us, so being able to help bring the music into the live context and wrestle with all the quandaries of that is pure fun for me. Selfishly, I'm excited to hear her sing on these stages.

You can catch Oneohtrix Point Never's performance at Vivid LIVE this year at the Sydney Opera House on the 29th May or in Melbourne at Max Watt's on the 1st of June.