Wuh Oh is a dance hall David Bowie
We were hipped to Wuh Oh, through Dance System’s remix of Soft Style, but it was Wuh Oh’s attitude and musical charisma that drew us in. Superficially ironic and over the top, Wuh Oh’s music oozes authenticity, a kind of raw expression that is palpable through the sounds and visuals. Breaking the mold is not an easy task when it comes to genres steeped in tradition. Wuh Oh is a kind of dance hall David Bowie in that regard, outrageous and possibly offensive, but sincere and remarkably talented. Talent and intense work ethic are the necessary components of commercial and artistic success: Wuh Oh’s got both, proving it with a constant stream of mixes and remixes coming out while under lock down at his folks place.
Dance System, an alias of the prolific L-Vis 1990, turns Soft Style into a thumping dance track that would be at home in any club. By the looks (and sound) of it, Wuh Oh is on the rise.
Pleasure to meet you Wuh Oh, how’s your summer been so far?
Likewise! It’s been the strangest summer. When lockdown started I decided to go live with my parents for the first time in 10 years. My 4 brothers all had the same idea and so for a few months it was like living in this weird space outside of time and the darkness of reality: everything felt like a flashback to childhood, every day was the same and the future seemed so out-with our control it almost wasn’t worth freaking out about. In a weird way I loved the simplicity of it. I made a bunch of original tunes and remixes from the comfort of this wee cocoon and my creative purple patch has fortunately continued since rejoining the real world.
The video comments for “Softstyle” are full of new fans being drawn in. We think you’re on the road to massive success. Does it feel like your work is gaining more traction?
That’s nice of you to say! I think people are starting to get a proper feel for what I’m all about which is lovely considering I’ve probably made things hard for myself by avoiding pigeon holes and easy genre classifications. I want to build a career with breadth and longevity as opposed to coasting on one sound to my 15 minutes of fame, so I’m happy everything is going in the right direction on my own terms.
Do you ever read the YouTube comment threads on your videos? You’ve got a hilarious fan base, one YouTube commenter claims “Softstyle” and the video are “Meth in a nutshell” is that the sort of outlandishness the vibe you’re going for?
I never read the comments, in an effort to maintain my sanity. Meth’s not for me but it sounds intense so I’ll take that as a thumbs up! I suppose I just follow my conceptual ideas to their natural conclusion, which often produces pretty extreme results. I hate when people try to be wacky for wackiness’ sake – you can always tell and it’s so corny. My visuals partner, Joe from Zones Productions, and me try to take a childlike, pure, un-cynical approach to everything we do. People often assume the music or videos are dripping with irony but the complete opposite is actually the case!
Do you really have a massive back tattoo of a dragon? (Check out the SoftStyle video for reference)
It’s actually a mandrill baboon eating a bowl of cereal!
What kind of stuff did you grow up listening to? What artists felt like they were speaking directly to you as a kid?
I always loved really melodic stuff like The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Kate Bush, ABBA… The melodies and harmonies spoke to me the most – lyrics were and still are secondary to me. Local Scottish bands like Belle & Sebastian and The Delgados were particularly inspiring. On the other hand, in high school I got so into Daft Punk and Justice that their profound influence on my sound eventually led to a publishing company boss asking if I was French! Lately I’ve noticed the sounds of radio hits from my childhood seeping into my production style. Ubiquitous hit makers from that era like The Neptunes, Timbaland and Max Martin influence my arrangement and sound design lots these days.
Do you see the videos and music as extensions of each other, parts to a whole? Or is the creative process separate?
The music always comes first but when a song’s ready and me and Zones start thinking about the music video, the visuals becomes top priority. The combination of visual and audio has the potential to engage people in a more intense way than either medium separately so I’m aware of the importance of harnessing that power. The more videos we develop, the more my obsession grows with cinematography and how it can communicate feeling and convey narrative. I can see our visuals getting even more ambitious and interlinked with the music which I’m told has cinematic qualities of its own!
This Dance System remix is a real roller and it’s quite different to your usual sound – what’s the experience like hearing a remix like this for the first time?
That one was nuts. I sent Dance System ‘Softstyle’, he immediately told me his vision for the remix and then sent me his version the next day. He works so instinctively and efficiently. Getting a remix back is pretty inspiring in most cases – finding out what somebody else hears in your song and can pull from its DNA to make something new. Hudson Mohawke took the essence of my beat-less track ‘Pretty Boy’ and amplified it to the max instead of doing the obvious and slapping half-time drums on it. There’s actually a clip on my Instagram of me hearing that remix for the first time! Myd’s version of ‘Softstyle’ was a crash course for me in structuring a piano house banger in a cool way. I’m lucky nobody’s done a shit remix for me yet!
You’re able to balance the silliness of your music with very serious songwriting and musicality. Are you consciously balancing these two sides of yourself and your music? Or is the blend innate?
I feel like making music is simultaneously a silly and serious exercise anyway! Ideas that begin life as accidents, jokes or carefree improvisations can end up becoming songs that mean the world to people. I’m constantly chasing music that sparks joy in me, be it from a certain series of chords, a bizarre sound effect or whatever else you could imagine. There’s really no great thinking behind it!
You have impeccable style. Your wardrobe Wednesdays are always top notch. Who are some of your favorite designers? Can we expect any runway appearances soon? Who would you love to work with in that world?
I’m glad you like Wardrobe Wednesdays! It’s been part of a process of growing comfortable with showing people more of who I am. I definitely wanna dive deeper into the fashion space when the right collab comes up. In terms of designers, I’m really into Chisato Tsumori’s work at the moment. Her pieces are really playful and colourful but also classy and elegant. I also love the updated regal aesthetic that Cecilie Bahnsen is working with. Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss is amazing too – he loves a high collar, which I’m a sucker for! Aside from these peeps I’d love to work with the incredible Laurence & Chico at some point.
Anything else going on in your world that you’d like to chat about before we head out?
I’ve got loads of remixes for other artists coming out soon. There’s also an original track I’m putting out as a ‘versus’ style collaboration with another producer (who I have to keep secret right now!) by the end of the year which I’m super jazzed about. That track is a fun foray into dance music that’s more ‘straight up’ than anything I’ve released so far. I also just received the vinyl test pressing for my first album… It’s all happening!