Based between London and Manchester Oh Baby met via a chance meeting at a family members funeral. The pair, made up of distant cousins Rick Hornby & Jen Devereux, have just announced their new album ‘Hey Genius‘, which is laden with their romantic guitar-led synth-pop and is set for release July 23rd via Burning Witches Records. Today they’re sharing the first single from the record, “Cruel Intention“.
Speaking about the track, the band said “For ‘Cruel Intention’ we wanted quite a disposable sound, with a kind of plasticity to an almost one hit wonder-like song about the inevitable risks of love, the risk of never truly knowing someone until their ‘version A’ mask is lowered, and by that time you’re usually already too far in.”
Hey Genius carries on from Oh Baby‘s last record, The Art Of Sleeping Alone almost like the flip side of an album, it has that kind of geography to it.
The duo are fascinated with machines conveying or creating emotion and the electronic take on the human condition. The human body actually has a very small electrical current running through it, with enough to power a 100watt lightbulb, the synth lines and arpeggiators on this album are written relating to that current, tapping into it and running alongside it.
Ever since they were children, the pair found the whole notion of electricity captivating, Hornby recalls spending hours as a child turning the radio dial just to hear the noise of interference and static, thinking this is how the world actually sounded. Inspired by 70s and 80s synth bands such as Kraftwek, Tubeway Army and Human League, as well as Philip K Dick’s dystopian sci-fi novel “Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep?”, which went on to become the Blade Runner film, the band look to explore the way electric currents work in conduction with human emotions and how these rhythms impact feelings in their new record.
The idea of the dancefloor being the end of a journey, the final destination for a track, is always in the back of Oh Baby‘s minds when writing. All the emotions and drama that get played out on those few square metres that leads to the soundtrack.
Recorded primarily at Hornby’s home studio in Manchester, the band explained the process behind the creation of Hey Genius, saying “The writing process always follows the same pattern, we will hole up separately for weeks that become months, stockpiling ideas and venturing down rabbit holes of sounds, words, effects and riffs, then getting together to plug-in, switch on and start building the tracks. We set up an outside home studio during last year’s Summer lockdown, which ended up looking just how we wanted but being about as soundproof as a shower curtain so there are a few neighbours that got to know the basslines a bit too well.
Neither of us are particularly technically minded at all so working with synths there tends to be a lot of ‘see what this button does’ moments, discovering sounds as we write and a lot of trial and error which can be either rewarding or torturous depending on which day or night you catch us on. A lot of the 80s type sounds on this record come from an old Juno that’s been here forever and a Korg MS20 as a midi keyboard that we also use live. The drum machine parts are always first worked out on an old Boss DR55. We tend to try and wiring as much as we can out of what we have, and try to use those limitations well, partly for obvious financial reasons but also to try and not be overwhelmed by choice, which seems to be an easy trap to fall into in a home studio with wi-fi.“
Oh Baby have a pretty firm idea of the way they want everything to sound and when they finally take everything and de-camp to a studio for final production and mixing, by then they know that they have managed to stick to the only two rules they ever had: “We want it to sound like the truth, and we want it to be the sound of two people with a passion”.