Oslo Psych Fest: Ritual 2015 – interview

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October brings Oslo Psych Fest back for round number three. The three 30 somethings, Joao, Øystein and Ben are an interesting and diverse bunch: some more bitter and jaded, while others still have a more positive outlook on the scene. Even through all the ups and downs and hard work for little to show, they still have one thing in common: the passion for music and desperately wanting to give Oslo something of value; something new and exciting. Other that the OPF festival, they continue to book Oslo Psych Nights all throughout the year at Revolver.

Oslo Psych Fest has been a welcomed sight in a town filled with concerts and festivals that don’t always have a focus on quality. OPF have tried to be different, and it costs. Breaking even is what you hope for and not always what you get when putting on independent gigs. The lineup is solid, but generally not well known outside of music nerd circles. Still they fight on and are happy and proud to present this year’s lineup (although it might not always sound that way)

Bad Sounds took a quick chat with the guys about Oslo and about Oslo Psych Fest: Ritual 2015.

opf2015
So, why the hell do you guys want to do this again? You’re not exactly getting rich…

Good question. Possibly the irrational hope that Oslo actually cares? Staring impossibility straight in its face and laughing? It is rather tough to do something which requires this much thought, effort, people and time for nothing in return but the joy of seeing people excited. That can’t last forever. There will be time where if this doesn’t go to the next level we just throw our hands in the air, say “we tried” and retire to the shadows to grumble.

Why do you trust the rather apathetic Norwegian audience to show up a third time?

Because sometimes they surprise you. There are some shows this year which were doomed to fail from their inception but ended up being very well attended and going into plus on the accounts. I still believe there is a scene here, it’s just hard to reach the people into it since some of them are older and live outside town with their kids and wives.

What in your opinion is the problem with the Norwegian marked?

The main problem is over-saturation. For a city this small in population there are far too many shows. It’s just impossible for people to have enough time or money to see them all so people often have to choose one a week when there could be 4 epic bands that week. Also I think the mainstream media is to blame in some regards for pushing bland crap and not really championing the underground as much as they do in Sweden or other places. It’s up to the inspired to hunt and dig to find the new bands, that makes the scene smaller than it could be.

What can be done to improve it?

First of all, more money to the smaller clubs. We take all the risk, book bands before they are big on their first tour, sell usually 40-60 tickets, lose 6000kr, everyone says it was legendary and then the next time around the bigger venues book the bands when they are suitably hyped and reap the rewards. We end up with a legendary venue that loses money on shows. They need to give more support to us since we are basically facilitating the future of the scene here.
Radio and TV need to get off their lazy asses too and start playing proper music, not just Kurt Vile and Beach House.

Is it a lack of knowledge or interest in foreign/unknown music?

It’s a strange thing because I think generally Norwegians, at least my friends, are very passionate about music and spend most of their time listening to or discovering it. I think the main problem is when you step outside of the “musicians, label, bookers” group of people the next step is a long way up. It seems like those outside that circle didn’t get the memo and get invariably excited about seeing bands that the rest consider commercial.

Why have you added the “Ritual” name to this years theme?

From it’s inception we were a bit wary about using the name PSYCH FEST since back when we started there was Austin, LA and one or two others. Since then there are now over 20-30 different ones springing up anywhere someone has a mic and a crayon to draw posters. It was a conscious choice to try and stand on our own, but also the option to not only book “psych” but gear it more towards a festival that is broader and has good music at its centre, like ATP or something.

"Michael Rother plays NEU! & Harmonia & Solo Works". Hans Lampe (La Duesseldorf/drums) and Franz Bargmann (guitar) join Michael Rother

“Michael Rother plays NEU! & Harmonia & Solo Works”. Hans Lampe (La Duesseldorf/drums) and Franz Bargmann (guitar) join Michael Rother


So tell us about this year’s lineup:

It was a mad rush this year because originally Spiritualized were confirmed which is why we moved the Festival to October, but then after confirming a further 5-8 bands they cancelled so we had to keep it those dates. I am very happy with the way it turned out, for instance having Spids Nøgenhat do their first ever gig outside Denmark in 15 years, having the mighty WIRE coming to headline Saturday and the fantastic Michael Rother playing Neu!, Harmonia and his solo works which should be an absolute killer night. Not to mention King Khan, Destruction Unit, Electric Eye, Clinic, Hills etc who all come together to make it varied but still connected. I think it will be a magical couple of days for those who attend.

Where and when will it take place?

October 9 and 10th at Vulkan Arena and Pokalen, with a kick-off on Thursday the 8th at Revolver with the very hyped Camera from Germany and Motorsegler from Oslo who just keep getting better and better.

Are you planning any more psych fest related gigs this year?

We have some shows that we promote-book under the Oslo Psych Nights banner. For instance Follakzoid from Chile, The Underground Youth, etc. Also we partnered with Vulkan Arena in booking Psychic Tv in December which should be a show everyone goes to!

As for the festival let’s see how this one goes. We are not in any financial position to survive if it goes badly as all three of us live on meager wages and do this for the love of music, however we have been exceptionally lucky to work with the people at Vulkan who really stand behind us and support this festival and want it to work out too. So hopefully, we can all make it happen again in the future, but the attendances will decide the outcome.

What do you think is the state of psych music today?

Perhaps it’s taken a slight dip from the previous couple years, but I still think it’s a strong and healthy scene that people are digging. It’s been around for more than half a century so it should stand the test of time.

With the massive availability of music out there, do you feel this new wave of psych is a current “hip” genre, or do you think it will continue as it has over the last few years?

As with every scene there are those that lead the way, and those that jump on the bandwagon. Thankfully songwriting is a gift and not something you can copy so the ones with any talent stick out in the end and the posers get left in the dirt where they belong.

What have you learned (to do and not to do) from last years festival?

First off, try limit the amount of flights. Second try control the backline situation. Thirdly try to get everything confirmed earlier (didn’t work this time around). This year we are trying to keep it more cohesive and have bands that fit with each other but still offer something for everyone. We decided against doing the Thursday at Vulkan and keep it to a 2 day festival at the big venue and a smaller kick-off at Revolver.

How did you choose the bands for this years festival?

All of us meet pretty much every week either in Oslo or online to talk about ideas for bands. Next it’s down to those that are on tour during that period because A: It’s silly to not book bands on tour cause you don’t have to pay flights and they come with their own backline and B: It’s even sillier to miss out and have another venue in Oslo book them during Psych Fest causing competition.

Apart from that we head hunted some bands because we really really wanted to have them. Such as WIRE, CLINIC, KING KHAN and NEU!

WIRE: Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Grey and Matthew Simms

WIRE: Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Grey and Matthew Simms

Which bands are you most excited about for this years events?

Personally I am a big WIRE fan and have seen them before and it blew my mind, so that’s high up on the list. Michael Rother, I mean, living legend. I love his solo-work, work in Harmonia and of course NEU! so this is unmissable! Also cannot wait to see Clinic and very happy that Acid Mothers Temple could join the party!

Is there more national and international press interest this year vs. last?

It seems like the national press are more on it this year. We have had a lot of good feedback and many of the top journalists and radio hosts are going to cover the festival and write articles about it. Can’t ask for more than that. Internationally i’m not sure but we have people flying in from Moscow, Denmark, and England so far that we know about.

Do you have hotel deals for out of towners this year?

Our friends at Comfort Xpress Youngstorget offer a discount if people write to the hotel and mention PSYCHFEST.

Why should people come to Oslo Psych Fest this year?

It’s a festival done by people who are passionate about music and have absolutely not received 1 kroner of support from the government or any organisation for the third year running. I have no idea why they don’t want to support something that is non-commercial and purely run to promote the underground scene but let them count their oil money and fuck right off to their Karpe Diem concert.

Will you be back next year?

That remains to be seen.

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With such a strong lineup Bad Sounds recommends… no, demands, that you show up and show up early. It is a festival, not just a gig with headliners. Do yourself the favor of catching some of the best up and coming acts out there, as well as some living legends at this years festival.

Tickets for the festival here.

The lineup is as follows:

Thursday October 8th: Revolver

Camera (DE)
Motorsegler (N)

Friday October 9th: Vulkan/Pokalen

Michael Rother (NEU!, Harmonia) (DE)
Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. (JP)
Destruction Unit (US)
Spectral Haze (N)
De Underjordiske (DK)
The Low Frequency in Stereo (N)

Saturday October 10th: Vulkan/Pokalen

Wire (UK)
Clinic (UK)
Hills (SE)
The King Khan & BBQ Show (CAN)
Spids Nøgenhat (DK)
Electric Eye (N)
The Orange Revival (SE)

Psych Fest djs:
Leo Avanti (Kosmische Club)
Gypo Buggane (UK)
Al Lover (US)

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