Stream Wuh Oh’s latest single Daddio here NOW!
I had spent the night drinking with the intention of hurting myself the next morning.
Sometimes you need to live in the present confident that your future self will work it out later. Doesn’t matter what you’ve got going in the morning, the present self must take what it wants. The other guy will sort out tomorrow, he always does. Admittedly not always to the best of his abilities when working with a handicap, but whatever needs to be done is usually done within a reasonable time frame.
It was one of those evenings, and as I rested my head awaiting the cold embrace of the dreamless alcohol soaked slumber; it dawned on me. I had scheduled an interview with one of my absolute favorites from the UK for 2pm. The realization wasn’t that I had a late afternoon interview to conduct. I rather enjoy conducting interviews hungover, I’m less excitable and tend to talk less, which saves me time and embarrassment in the transcription process. Especially when juxtaposed to thoughtful and dignified Europeans, my Southern California affect seems brutish and uncouth — but as I shut my eyes after polishing a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 I realized there was a substantial time difference between Los Angeles and Scotland.
“It’s like I’m hot wiring my brain, taking shortcuts through fear and extreme vulnerability to reach an extreme level of euphoria…”
At 5:45am I staggered into my kitchen and started boiling water wishing I hadn’t been such an ass the night before. The problem with relying on your future self to problem solve for you is eventually you inhabit the consciousness of your future self and must atone for your own sins. I was paying my penance in full this morning. I spooned instant coffee into my largest mug and glanced at my phone. There was a message from Wuh Oh, aforementioned Scott who I was supposed to be interviewing in a few minutes.
So sorry! But could we move the interview back to 8pm?
A man after my own heart Wuh Oh had been sleeping in and like me, had forgotten there was a time difference when we excitedly plotted the interview over DM. Later in the afternoon when we had both gotten our beauty sleep we caught up.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Wuh Oh, we chatted about SoftStyle, the initial track that put him on our radar, a few months ago. SoftStyle is an infectious and outlandish dance track with an equally psychotic video produced by Wuh Oh’s friend and collaborator ZONES.
Since SoftStyle Wuh Oh has been releasing singles, remixes with the legendary Ed Banger Records, earned airtime from Pete Tong, had his tracks remixed by Myd and Hudson Mohawk. He’s still working in relative obscurity though, through the pandemic he’s been away from the Glasgow scene and living with his family, parents and brothers, quietly releasing beautiful and progressive music. There is a hyper-pop quality to Wuh Oh’s work, but without any of the tropes of hyper-pop we’ve come to expect from the A.G. Cook or Gecs. What plants him in the hyper-pop space is his work with cliché. Gecs are defined by their psychotic mishmosh of early 2000s nostalgia, trap, pop punk but Wuh Oh works with a slightly older and Euro-Centric vintage. His sunny and eclectic dance tracks are in the vein of FatBoySlim, The Prodigy or Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler tinged with postmodern irony.
Rich piano chord progressions are at the heart of Wuh Oh’s music laying bare the traditional songwriters greatest asset, physical instruments. An oft hidden hallmark of great producers is their skills as traditional composers — beginning with the piano and working outwards Wuh Oh creates orchestral compositions that would be equally at home when played by a pit orchestra as they are blasted from a system at a warehouse. There is a pop-art sensibility in Wuh Oh’s work, the most obvious being Wuh Oh’s physical resemblance to Warhol and the visual usage of Warhol’s work, but also in the outward acceptance of inspiration with no attempt to obscure it.
“There’s a shield, a protective forcefield almost, when I’m on stage I can dance in a wild, spasmodic style which I would never feel quite so comfortable doing on a dance floor, but in front of a crowd of people on stage by myself, 100percent.“
Wuh Oh bases dance tracks around central piano riffs that could be in a Beatles track, there are familiar and comfortable elements of dance music we know and love that allow a listener to easily connect but they’re still fresh and new. Like Warhol using the iconic images of Marilyn or Campbell’s, Wuh Oh’s usage of fun dance tropes facilitates an accessible entry point to the avant-garde.
Wuh Oh was grateful for the couple extra hours of sleep, he was fully awake and ready to take on the day at 8pm.
“My mum doesn’t want me to shave my hair off but I’m going to have her trim it.”
He’s taken to wearing a wig whenever he appears publicly or otherwise as Wuh Oh, and now his hair had grown far too long to fit over the white blonde hair piece.
The wig is part of a grander persona, Wuh Oh in its public form is a character, a new skin that can be put on to shield the person behind it from embarrassment or any kind of self consciousness. Like many performing artists the performer we know is a whole new person, or an exaggerated, grandiose version of the artist themself. Ozzy Osbourne is not actually Ozzy. Ozzy is the guy who eats bats and sacrifices children to the devil, Wuh Oh doesn’t eat bats to my knowledge nor perform occult rituals with youth but from what I’ve gathered he does put on a stage show that must be seen to be believed. I’ve grown to understand Wuh Oh as a performer through YouTube comments. There is so much love in the comments section of Wuh Oh videos it’s unbelievable, but many of them are talking about the energy at the live shows.
“There’s a shield, a protective forcefield almost, when I’m on stage I can dance in a wild, spasmodic style which I would never feel quite so comfortable doing on a dance floor, but in front of a crowd of people on stage by myself, 100percent. There’s something about the physical appearance thing I find interesting… I like the idea that you can just choose how to look… I like the idea as Wuh Oh I don’t have to settle for ‘I look like myself’ simply because I didn’t have any other ideas. I can go in with an idea and this is what i want you to see, this is the version of me I need you to see for the time being.”
There is a lion hearted courage in creating yourself from nothing but your own imagination. There’s no ‘This is just how I am, I can’t change it’ excuse to be had when you create it from the ground up. Choose how you look, choose how you perform, choose what kind of music you make and your ideas are out there for the world unfiltered. It’s a supreme intellectual and artistic nakedness that you can never cover.
“There’s this thought that in order to be cool your music should have an element of darkness within it…”
There is a reserved assuredness in the way Wuh Oh speaks, his voice is soft and comforting with a kind Scottishness unavailable in Train Spotting, my main point of reference for what being Scottish is. Talking to him feels good, it made me feel good about myself. He’s the kind of person who makes you feel listened to and intelligent, it’s the same way I feel when listening to his music. I don’t feel like I’m being spoken down to, I’m able to understand and appreciate something obviously experimental and cool without having to ‘acquire taste’. I do love acquired tastes in music, I’ve based a whole personality around Slow Dive B sides and Nails — I’m perpetually never ‘passed the aux’ — but Wuh Oh’s work melts away my hard earned pretension. I just listen to Wuh Oh and enjoy it without thinking too hard. There is a sublime beauty in that kind of art, be it a painting or a record, that immediately touches something inside you and makes you feel. In spending our lives analyzing music, it’s sonic structures, aesthetics, cultural significance, journalists often forget about the feeling of a record. Sure we write about it when we’re not busy repackaging press releases, but none of the aesthetics or significance matters without feeling. And the feeling of a record can’t really be accurately described in words, doesn’t matter how much acid you’ve taken to channel Lester Bangs himself (it doesn’t work, I’ve tried). The point being Wuh Oh makes me feel good. It will make you feel good as well — there’s a universality in a Wuh Oh track that’s truly beautiful for lack of a better word.
We chatted shit for nearly half an hour before we got into “Something Musicy” but ended up getting into the more existential aspects of being an artist generally. Wuh Oh puts his best foot forward in his music, music is what he likes most about himself, Wuh Oh in general is the parts of him he enjoys and wants to share. It’s taking those parts of yourself usually reserved for friends and loved ones and making them public, broadcasting and branding yourself as something you love and cherish in yourself as an act of ownership over those parts. You are in control of those parts, those parts are YOU and made by YOU. There is beauty in agency over yourself.
“There’s this thought that in order to be cool your music should have an element of darkness within it, and one of the things that keeps me motivated creatively is trying to make cool things out of things that others would deem untouchable. Just to see if out of sheer force of will I’m able to make something like Daft Punk did with Discovery in taking those 70’s and 80’s samples and bringing them to the cool kids.”
Finding the light and losing himself in the moment, especially on stage, isn’t done without personal sacrifice. In tapping into the positivity, turning on the happy faucet, Wuh Oh takes himself through the “darkest parts” of his psyche. On stage it’s through convulsions and contortions meant to make himself vulnerable and deeply uncomfortable, this triggers a rush of adrenaline which lets him truly tap into the happiness of the music.
“Even though I’m dancing to jolly Life ft. the Magician it ends up looking quite scary and weird. It’s like I’m hot wiring my brain taking shortcuts through fear and extreme vulnerability to reach an extreme level of euphoria that would be harder to come by through some other route. I don’t know exactly what effect that has on an audience, I just know that the more alive and present I feel, the greater the chance of a genuine connection there.”
Wuh Oh’s latest track Daddio has just been released and it does every little thing that I adore about Wuh Oh tracks. We will keep you up to date with all things Wuh Oh as they progress, but the music really speaks for itself.