The ghost and his machine
Witch house artist oOoOO wouldn’t exist without the Internet.
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 01.26.11
“I don't really like band names,” says San Francisco's Chris Dexter, or rather oOoOO, as he'd like to be referred to in the press. “When I uploaded my first songs onto Myspace, I just entered a bunch of Os for a name. I never thought anyone would hear those songs or want to know how to pronounce the name.” Most often it's pronounced “oh,” but given Dexter's attitude on the matter, it could be open to more dramatic interpretation.
One listen to his music and you’ll agree a ghostly “ooooooo” makes more sense. Murky, lo-fi and smacked-up, oOoOO’s haunting chill-out sounds could be the work of idle spirits lazily occupying their time in the afterlife. Dubbed witch house or drag by the indie music minds of sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum, he sits alongside Salem and label mate Balam Acab; other artists doing abstract, slow-moving and often dark work.
Given oOoOO’s somber aesthetic, it’s surprising to learn about his mainstream influences. “I listen to a lot of pop music, I always have,” he says when reached by phone at his Bay Area home studio. “I like to add pop vocals to more left-field electronica. I don’t think I could ever make music like Kylie Minogue’s producers, or Katy Perry’s or anything like that, but I am definitely interested in that stuff and try to combine them.”
The mystery man comes to Chicago on back in January to play the first anniversary of CULT, a monthly party at Berlin curated by DJs Teen Witch and Baby Bamboo and held in conjunction with Scott Cramer’s Stardust nights. “We built CULT around combining indie qualities to a mainstream atmosphere,” Cramer says via e-mail, speaking on behalf of the CULT family. “It’s one of the only places in Chicago where you’ll hear a SALEM track mixed into a tribal mix of [Willow Smith’s] ‘Whip My Hair’ along with juke, bitch tracks, acid, Drone, UK funky and house.” Mixing emerging dance styles with a hint of pop, CULT has lived up to its name, often drawing capacity crowds.