Juno Plus Podcast 59: Orphx
Spend an hour in the company of Canadian techno royalty as Orphx mix our latest podcast.
The line which separates techno with noise and industrial music seems to have become increasingly blurred over the past few years; although the casual observer may see this as a recent development, in reality these sounds have been combining for a lot longer. One such outfit are Canadian duo and former Juno Plus interviewees Orphx, who have been exploring the meeting point between industrial music and techno in their music for the past 20 years, producing numerous albums alongside a number of vinyl, CD and cassette releases. With sonic force and rhythmic distortion as their guiding light, Richard Oddie and Christie Sealey have manoeuvred Orphx’s sound from the arena of experimental noise and industrial electronic music into a realm of techno shared by the likes of Adam X, Perc Trax and Svreca’s Semantica.
In 2009 Orphx made their label debut on Adam X’s Sonic Groove imprint with the Division EP, a release which exposed the duo to a new audience thanks to remixes from Surgeon and dub techno anchor Substance; until that point, the only remixes of Orphx came from either themselves, Jim DeJong’s The Infant Cycle project and a selection of remakes that appeared on Teletai – Rarities And Remixes in 2008.
Orphx are now a permanent fixture of Sonic Groove’s industrial-heavy roster; in addition to the four records they’ve already released for the label, the duo will be releasing the Boundary Conditions 12″ next week. Since their first appearance on the label in 2009 Orphx have focused on melding elements of dancefloor sound design together with a challenging tonality, and have subsequently plunged themselves further into a sphere of techno they helped to influence by remixing acts such as Svreca, Giorgio Gigli & Obtane and Adam X’s Traversable Wormhole project.
Richard and Christine’s mix for Juno Plus feels like an extension of their own sound, with an hour’s worth of cold, dark, tunnelling techno from artists whose music has been an inspiration on their forthcoming release. We spoke with Oddie over email about their upcoming European tour, cassette tape labels and how to approach remixes.
Hi Rich, how are things in Ontario?
Hectic – madly getting ready for our upcoming tour.
Many thanks to yourself and Christina for doing the mix, where and how was it done?
We worked out a rough plan for the mix and then each did separate sections in our home studios. I stitched them together into a finished mix in Ableton.
Was there a particular theme to it?
We wanted to use tracks that provided some inspiration for our new 12” as well as some old and new tracks that we’ve recently been enjoying.
You guys have a new 12” coming out imminently through Sonic Groove – what can people expect?
I think this record follows up from the last one, in that it has a very heavy and relentless sound and deals with some of the same themes. But the structures are less abstract and experimental than the previous record. All three tracks have been developed from out of our recent live sets.
You seem to have quite a good relationship with Adam X and Sonic Groove, might there be a new Orphx LP through the label in the future?
There’s no plans for that at the moment but I think it’s a fine idea. We are launching our own label later this year and while we will start with 12”s, but I would love to do an LP in the near future.
Orphx’s musical heritage began with cassette releases, what are your feelings on the current vogue for this format?
From 1994 to 1999, I ran a cassette label and distribution. That was great fun and we made some excellent contacts through the tape trading networks at that time. So, for me, that was the golden era of cassette releases and it is in the past. I have recently released some cassettes for one of my side projects (Magic Shadows) but I find dubbing them a real pain in the ass. I used to enjoy making cassette releases, cutting and glueing together the artwork, etc. Not so much anymore. Though I’m considering re-releasing some of our cassettes in a limited edition, but probably in other formats as well.
Equally you’ve been pushing a fusion of techno, industrial, and electro-acoustic music since the early 90s, how do you feel about the supposed revival of industrial/noise/techno? Did it ever leave? Is it the same? How does it differ? Any new music you find interesting?
There have been many artists that have combined techno, noise and industrial over the last thirty years or so, including the Birmingham scene of the late 1990s and the rhythmic noise scene that we have been involved with since the mid 1990s. Labels like Ant Zen, Hands and Zhark are often overlooked in the discussion about this recent revival of industrial techno, and I find some of this coverage lazy in that it fails to dig into the history of this sound and presents the latest wave as something entirely new. Nevertheless, there is great music being produced right now and I’m excited by artists and labels that are really pushing the boundaries of techno and drawing heavily on more electro-acoustic and industrial traditions. Kangding Ray, Rrose, and Sturqen are a few names that come to mind.
Although your remix discography stretches back a decade, it seems to be an area that’s become more regular recently. How do you approach doing remixes?
We try to focus on one or two elements of the original and then build something new from there. We really enjoy doing remixes because they are opportunities to work with new sounds and ideas. And we often discover and experiment with new approaches to composition while we are working on them.
You mentioned your upcoming European tour, what are you most looking forward to?
Seeing friends, talking to fans, shopping for records, and exploring Berlin and London some more.
How do you feel about touring? Is it something you enjoy?
Yeah we enjoy touring a lot. We’ve never done a tour longer than three weeks and there’s usually a few days to just relax and wander. So it is generally pretty low stress. I think a longer and more intensive tour would be challenging but I’d like to try that at some point.
Do your respective roles in the studio manifest themselves similarly when you are playing live?
To some extent. Christie works a lot with her modular synth system both live and in the studio, and tends to create more textural elements: modulating basslines, melodies, drones and noise, while I tend to focus more on the rhythms and overall structure of the tracks, primarily working in Ableton. In the studio, those roles are less defined and we both work on different elements using a wide variety of gear.
1. White Noise – The Visitation
2. SBTRKT – Wildfire (Objekt mix)
3. Dadub – Life
4. T++ – Audio1995#8
5. 0 – Kolmas
6. Isolée – Simone Rides
7. Liasons Dangereuses – Peut etre… pas
8. Sleeparchive – ACD-Voice
9. OVR – Rapid Eye
10. Robert Hood – And Then We Planned Our Escape
11. Quadrant – 1.1
12. Dasha Rush – Dark Light Blind
13. Orphx – Vanishing Point
14. Inigo Kennedy – Chamber
15. Cassegrain – Tiamat
16. Samuel Kerridge – Waiting for Love III
17. Casual Violence – Acceptance of the Fact at Hand
18. Traversable Wormhole – Worldline (Orphx mix)
19. Loktibrada – Untitled (Ian Richardson mix)
20. Morgenstern – Railing
21. Orphx – Outcast
22. Trade – Positive Neckline
23. Function – Voiceprint (reprise)
Orphx “Boundary Conditions” tour
April 26: Berlin – Suicide Circus w/ Adam X and Lasse Buhl
April 27: Bonen, Germany – Forms of Hands 2013 festival
May 3: London – Plex Basement Session #2 w/ Paul Prudence and special guests
May 4: Manchester – Ritual (Q Cavern) w/ Casual Violence, Systemic, CWS and Leon Mitternacht