Oliver Chesler (The Horrorist)
Oliver Chesler, aka THE HORRORIST, comes from New-York and is one of the best international acts in the EBM/ Techno genre. He had an alternative hit, ‘One Night In New York City’. We'd already had the opportunity to interview Oliver in 2014, so this second interview is mainly an update with a focus on the artist's recent projects. We met him after his show in Brussels, a concert organised by Teenage Menopause Records. Below, you can also find a link to the WAVES radio show which premiered three tracks of THE HORRORIST's forthcoming album.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: How would you describe your music for someone who doesn't know it?
Oliver: It's diverse: somebody could describe it as EBM, or Hardcore EBM, Techno of course. I like to use the PORTISHEAD analogy: I'm just a band. What's PORTISHEAD? Nothing, just what they sound like. I need to be always changing a little bit. You can't make the same music all these years, because you'd feel like an old idiot. (laughs) My new stuff is like Eighties EBM stuff.
RoD: Let's talk about this new stuff!
Oliver: My next album will come out on my own label. These days, it doesn't make sense to go via another label. You'd have to be really famous or have some YouTube hits to do that.
RoD: Do you have a title for the new album?
Oliver: It will be called ‘Separate Dimension’...
Oliver: I always kind of thought that maybe we all are computer programmed. And now, as I get older, I definitely don't believe there's a God. Human beings are figuring out something. So, I'm thinking about this and also I feel like as a concept, it's something I have never sung about, although it's a theme in my life. In the past, I mostly spoke about things happening in my life: relationships, my father dying. This time, I wanted to have an album you wouldn't expect to come from me. It's much harder for me because I'm stepping outside of myself. But it's not all like that. Some of the songs are straight up, talking about sex and chains. And now that I'm touring a little bit, I'm realizing that I should have some harder songs on it also. Just because it works so well live.
RoD: Your live shows are very energetic and very visual.
Oliver: It also comes from the Eighties, when I was a teenager. In 1987, I saw FRONT 242, DEPECHE MODE, and I thought “Well, these guys mean what they say, they are crazy, there's all sorts of stuff going on on stage”. I mean it's an honour: someone calls you up and says: “Come to my country, we're going to pay you a lot of money, put you up in a nice hotel, so you've got to put on a good show really!” (laughs)
RoD: Do you remember, in our last interview, you said that the next album would be very EBM because you had the gear to do it?
Oliver: Exactly. I realized that for years, I had been trying to make EBM music but with a computer, the timing is too perfect.
RoD: So, you work more on modular / analogue instruments?
Oliver: Yes, I bought a real 808 (Note: a Roland TR-808 drum machine). I had already every 808-sample on my computer but nothing is like the real 808. It's not the sound, it's timing. It's always playing a little bit earlier or a little bit later and I thought: “Now, I'm getting it”. So now, I've been obsessed with buying all these old weird late eighties and early nineties groove boxes: it's awesome for me!
RoD: You played new songs during your set: first there was ‘Programmed’?
Oliver: Yes, I started the show with ‘Programmed’ and it's funny because it's the 3rd time I play it. The first time, I played it in Berlin, it was great. Then there was this very hard party and it was horrible. In the beginning people were just staring at me like that. Then of course I picked it up and I played harder and it was ok. Here, it worked well! It really sounded great. When you listen, just the pattern itself, it doesn't get boring because it's from the drum machine.
RoD: You also played ‘Here Comes The Whip’?
Oliver: Yes, it will definitely be a single.
RoD: Via Teenage Menopause Records?
Oliver: Yes. They are deciding. It's up to them. And ‘Programmed’ will also be a single. ‘Here Comes The Whip’ is classic EBM.
RoD: In our previous interview you also told me how difficult it is to create good EBM vocals.
Oliver: Oh yes, it's really hard, because there's not a lot of themes in EBM. It's all muscles and hate, etc. FRONT 242 were very good in lyrics even though a lot didn't really make sense. You wondered if it was English but it's amazing, because it was so well produced, so perfect. But for an American, it's even harder. You have to say something basic and simple but without sounding like you're trying too hard. You have to trick yourself into being cool...
RoD: It's a problem when it's your mother language... I think for Jean-Luc De Meyer (Note: from FRONT 242), it's easier because it's not his mother language.
Oliver: Yes, I mean, it's hard for them now also, I think. It's a lot about timing.
RoD: Talking about Jean-Luc...
Oliver: Yes: he's my master.
RoD: Did you managed to get in touch with him? (Note: to work with him)
Oliver: I haven't done anything. I've played on a 7 inch by HAUJOBB where I'm on the B-side and Jean-Luc is on the A-side, so theoretically, I'm on the same record as him. (laughs) I've been talking to Daniel Myer (Note: from HAUJOBB) and we're gonna get some introductions. It has to be at the right time.
RoD: Let's talk about the songs that were influential for you at the beginning. I already know one of them, it's ‘Black Celebration’ from DEPECHE MODE because you told me...
Oliver: That was the song...
RoD: In the car, in 1986...
Oliver: Exactly. There's also. Did you see that VOMITO NEGRO is here tonight?
RoD: Yes, Gin Devo. I saw him.
Oliver: Yes. We might as well mention him as well. I'm actually surprised because some of the people here don't know who they are. But if you're an American and you're into EBM, you definitely know who they are. So, I'm gonna pick a song called ‘The Future’, from one of their early albums (Note: from ‘Human: The Cross On Nature's Back’).
RoD: What was the first song when you were young that made you realize you wanted to make music?
Oliver: You know, that's all DEPECHE MODE. Although before DEPECHE MODE, I was listening to... Growing up in New-York, in high school, Hip-hop and early Rap took over here. I used to break dance. I had Hispanic and Filipino friends and we were listening to early stuff like MANTRONIX or T LA ROCK, which was just a 808 and a guy talking. Somehow it influenced me because if you listen to my music, it's not rap but it's rap-based. It's the vocals in your face and the way the lyrics are its rap. At home, I'm always free styling you know. Sometimes I can do one minute and a half where it sounds awesome but then I fuck it up. (laughs)
RoD: Great! Thank you very much!
Oliver: Thank you.
To listen to the interview and to the three new songs (radio première), check the WAVES radio show HERE!
To read the first interview of THE HORRORIST, go HERE!
More about THE HORRORIST:
- his blog: http://www.wiretotheear.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thehorrorist
- his label: http://www.thingstocome.com