Before melting the Glasslands stage with his electronically dusky beats, oOoOO sat down with Earmilk for an exclusive interview. Christopher Dexter Greenspan talked about his life, San Francisco, likes for K-pop, dislikes for indie rock and near the end, he revealed his music source. It was a pleasurable conversation and you can read it below. Enjoy!
Earmilk: How are you today?
Christopher Dexter Greenspan: I’ve been running around for hours trying to get here so I’m a little stressed out.
EM: Where did you just come from?
CDG: My mom’s house in New Jersey.
EM: Nice, this leads to my next question. Tell me about your childhood and how you were introduced to electronic music?
CDG: When I was a kid, I listened to a lot of punk music and also a lot of hip hop. I guess that’s where my electronic influence came from, mostly from hip hop and stuff like that. I started out actually making hip hop beats and then I started listening to more electronic music, like pop and house music. It kind of evolved from there. Hip hop definitely more than any other kind of electronic based music, more samples from hip hop, I guess.
EM: How did you learn to play with the computer though?
CDG: I played guitar and bass in bands for a long time, when I was a teenager. I guess when I was in my late teens, I started messing around with computer audio work stations and stuff like that. It started really slow, you know? I did that for a couple of years and messed around until I was really good. After a while, I started getting more serious, but only in the last three years was I able to really put songs together and on the computer.
EM: That must have happened pretty fast, considering your EP was almost two years ago, in 2010?
CDG: Like a year and a half ago, so yeah, it happened really quick. I didn’t start putting oOoOO tracks out until the end of 2009 for sure.
EM: You said you were a bass guitar player?
CDG: Yeah, I played bass and the guitar, all the standard rock band instruments before I did electronic stuff.
EM: Can you give us a few of indie rock bands that you…
(Christopher shakes head)
CDG: I’m not really into indie rock at all but punk bands, I don’t listen to them anymore but all of your standard annoyingly boring punk bands, Black Flag… I like Pavement!
EM: You like pop music though, do you like K-pop?
CDG: Um, I don’t really know of any but there is this one K-pop band, I can’t remember what they’re called. Something with a P, Power something. There’s this really good Korean restaurant and they always have K-pop playing on this big projector but whenever I’m there, I like the music a lot but I never know who it is.
EM: There was another interview where you said San Francisco is more rock music and you travel a lot on tour, so my question is, where do you find the best audience?
CDG: I like playing in New York a lot. Chicago is really fun. I play a lot in Europe, actually. Berlin is a good place to play. But yeah, in San Francisco, I hardly ever do anything there. Going to shows or playing shows. It’s more of an indie rock and garage rock kind of city. There is no strong or any kind of electronic music, let alone, specifically the kind of stuff that I do.
EM: Do you like that though? When you go home, it’s kind of like a break for you?
CDG: Kind of, yeah! When I’m home, I’m like a hermit. I stay home and just work on music. It’s nice because there’s no temptation to go out because I don’t really want to see guys with beards in flannel shirts playing the guitar.
EM: I just saw on your Facebook, you have a show with Grimes and Born Gold back in San Francisco?
CDG: Yes, that should be fun. I just saw Katy B play at that venue two nights ago and it sounded really good, so I’m excited. They have a really good sound system.
EM: Cool! When you play, you do DJ sets and performances, can you tell us the difference of the two?
CDG: It’s weird. I don’t really DJ that much. It was a while ago, before I knew how to play my own stuff live. I wouldn’t even call that serious DJing. I was just throwing stuff in a program on my laptop and just playing tracks off my laptop. Now, I use Logic and sometimes Traktor which is actually a DJ software and I combine them. Basically, what I do live is play live remixes of my tracks. I would say 75% of the time that I play live is with my friend, Laura, who has this project called Butterclock. She does live vocals.
EM: You make a lot of beats, what do you think vocals add to the music?
CDG: Well, when I play with Laura, it is definitely more a pop oriented kind of show. The show feels more song-based whereas when I work by myself the show is more of me cutting up my own songs and a digital collage of my tracks. It feels like one long track because there’s no breaks. It feels less like me playing a series of songs but a 40-minute set.
EM: Do you have a preference?
CDG: I definitely like playing with Laura better. There are certain songs I can’t play without the vocals. It just doesn’t sound cool. It’s also weird when there’s just one guy standing on stage and you hear all these vocals coming. I definitely prefer to play with Laura.
EM: How did you meet Laura?
CDG: Through the internet, of course (smirk). We started exchanging tracks sometime last year. So I knew her through email and working on music before we even met in person.
EM: Does this mean you’re big on social networking then?
CDG: No, not really. That was kind of a random thing that happened. I don’t usually work with people that way.
EM: On your Twitter, what language is in your bio? What does it say?
CDG: It’s in Russian and I can’t say. I’d rather it remain a mystery to non-Russian speakers.
EM: Are you from Russia?
CDG: I’m not from Russia but my family is.
EM: It’s been awhile since your last release, what are your plans for this year?
CDG: Yeah, I have a record coming out on Tri-Angle. We haven’t set a release date but it looks like March, so pretty soon. Within the next week or two, there should be a single release for the record on the internet. I have a couple of other things that will be out before the actual record in March. Really soon, we’ll get a bunch of stuff popping out.
EM: Out of all of your remixes, which is your favorite? There’s one with The Big Pink, Salem…
CDG: I did one with Marina & the Diamonds that I really like a lot. That’s probably my favorite one.
EM: You’re someone associated or friends with Salem and White Ring, what do you think of “witch house”?
CDG: I don’t know, I feel like it’s over anyway. I’m hoping people don’t throw that tag around when my next record comes out. I never really got what that was, honestly. I never self-identified as that but if it helps people figure out where my music fits in, then that’s fine with me. I think what I do is electronic music, nothing specifically in that genre.
EM: No spiritual aspects then?
CDG: No, nothing like that from me.
EM: Do you ever get sick of capitalizing the Os in your name?
CDG: Not at all, I like it.
EM: When you listen to songs, do you ever imagine what is missing? Like do you find it hard to listen to normal songs now?
CDG: I don’t find it hard to listen to normal songs but sometimes, I definitely think “Oh this song could be better if this was different”. I actually started out making remixes before I even started making my original songs. I would do cover songs too. There were a lot of songs, at the beginning where I would mess around with, whether it was remixing or covering it, changing it, slowing it down and whatnot.
EM: What are 5 songs on your iPod right now?
CDG: Hm, what have I been listening to? (looks over to Brian, who has been sitting patiently next to me as the interview is taking place.)
Brian: Well, I think the demo of “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” by The Beatles, A Love Supreme, John Coltrane, whatever that song was two songs ago by Van Morrison.
CDG: Yeah, that’s about right. I like Van Morrison a lot. This is my friend Brian, whatever songs he listens to or puts on my iPod, I like that.
EM: So Brian is your music source then. I’m glad you’re here Brian!
B: Yeah, I guess I have a purpose after all.
EM: Other than making music, what do you like to do?
CDG: Honestly, that is basically all I do. I play a lot of shows, so I’ve been traveling a lot. That’s cool. When I’m not traveling or playing shows, I’m home being a hermit. I just stay home, honestly, watch a lot of movies and listen to music. It’s pretty boring and nerdy.
Christopher’s last words to you, the EARMILK readers, are “Hey, what’s up”. You can respond by leaving a comment underneath and get connected with him through the networks.