Some music is made for escaping to. To lift you from your drab surroundings, replace those blocks of silence with intoxicating swathes of brand new moods, and, most importantly, elevate you above the sea of appendages that is your daily problems, so you can look down on them and laugh, or even spit if you like. Listening to OOFJ’s second album Acute Feast, premiering below, the mundane becomes intensely atmospheric. A song like “I Forgive You”, for instance, is laced with potent desire and that can’t help but devour you, sometimes nightmarishly.
The duo are a married couple who go by the names of Jenno Bjørnkjær and Katherine Mills-Rymer. They met in the most cliche and predictable manner too, whilst working on the soundtrack of Lars Von Triers’ Melancholia. And if it couldn’t get any more soppy, they are now working with the controversial artist Ai WeiWei on his latest film Berlin I Love You. I mean, get a room guys!
I caught up with them this week to chat about the premiere of their second album and what it’s like to work with some of art’s finest minds. Stream here, read below.
Hello OOFJ! Your new album has arrived. Before getting specific, let’s get vague - what should people be doing whilst listening?
Katherine: Alone and getting drunk on your own before you go out. Like being in your own novel.
Jens: Driving can also be good for it. Your life can become a film soundtracked by us.
You’ve been soundtracking my nightmares recently. How does that make you feel, huh?
K: Well nightmares are the things that stay with you so I suppose that’s a good thing in a way.
J: I feel like our music also has a very beautiful side to it as much as it’s dark and strange. It also works well for romantic dreams.
You're both very much in control of OOFJ aren’t you? Recording everything, creating your own music videos and imagery. No shirking in this band.
K: We didn't think about it like that. Creating the videos was because we didn't have the money to hire a lot of people. Cindy Sherman said that when she brought a crew into her shoots she was usually more worried about them and their needs. I feel the same way, when we're working on something we don't stop until it's complete, whether it's a song or a video.
Do you think your visual art background helps with that a bit, Katherine?
K: I don't know. I've studied ballet, acting, calligraphy, the pursuits of a 15th century princess! Which didn’t help me with random stuff like reading a map and tying my laces. But it's helped me figure out a way to look at ideas differently, especially when describing them to Jens. I could tell him "it needs to sound like it's underwater" and in my head I'd know exactly what that meant, sometimes he didn't really understand what I was on about! Haha.
Jens, you’ve worked with Lars Von Trier right?
J: Yes, it was amazing. He was completely different to how I thought he'd be. I'd heard all these things about "the director who'd driven Björk insane" but he was a very lovely man. He was very exact in what he wanted, I was to only play the melody on saxophone, nothing else. I remember the players performing for the wrap party and it was raining but John Hurt was dancing with his shirt off and saying "MORE SAX!" to me.
And you worked with the beautifully controversial artist Ai Wei Wei too?
J: There was a documentary about him that used one of our songs “Putinistic”. He liked the sound and I guess just wanted to get this sound on his film.
Didn't he direct this new film over Skype?
J: Yes, because he can't leave China he has to do everything from there. It's part of the I Love Berlin film series, where directors create films about the capital. The film's about a father being away from his son, which mirrors the fact that he's separated from his family, who are in Berlin.
Did you get paranoid knowing that you might be put on a Chinese blacklist for working with him?
J: Not really, I guess it would be harder if I really put my life on the line for freedom. But my contribution to promoting freedom of expression is only a fraction of what other people, including Ai Weiwei himself, go through every day. It’s impressive and very courageous.
I can't even imagine. Speaking of impressive, what did you think of your recent remix courtesy of Dean Blunt?
K: It was like an anti-remix, especially with the static halfway through which was a good kind of fuck you. Not to us but more like to the establishment and the idea of a “remix”. Honestly, I don’t know what he meant, but I dig it.
Finally, I hear your next project is collaborating with The Royal Danish Theatre?
J: Yes, it's a mix of ballet, theatre, opera, modern dance and orchestra. We will be scoring the show which will be music ranging from old school symphony to futuristic electronic stuff.
Jamie xx is scoring ballet in Manchester soon, and now OOFJ in Denmark. Ballet going underground! Thanks for speaking with me.
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