London & Manchester-based duo Oh Baby are set to release their new album ‘Hey Genius‘ on July 23rd via Burning Witches Records The pair, made up of distant cousins Rick Hornby & Jen Devereux met via a chance meeting at distant relatives funeral. Today they’re sharing their new single “I Need Somebody To Love Tonight“.
Speaking about the track, the band said “I Need Somebody To Love Tonight is a cover of an obscure track by Patrick Cowley who was a composer and electronic musician/producer in 70’s San Francisco and who’s music formed part of the New York underground post-disco scene of the early 80’s. When we discovered his early instrumentals and demos had been re-released we devoured all that homemade analog charm. Finding out that the original track was part of music commissioned for gay porn films gave the sound even more beautiful late-night sleaze.”
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”.