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Oliver Moir 'I Rocked Till the Midnight Hour at Melissa's Bat Mitzvah' // Album premiere + interview

Naarm/Melbourne artist Oliver Moir (FKA Flora Tucker, AKA Sandman) released his ethereal 8-track ambient LP ‘I Rocked Till the Midnight Hour at Melissa’s Bat Mitzvah’ on Melbourne label Connection Verified today. It’s available for purchase digitally or for Vinyl pre-order here.

Over the last few years, Oliver Moir has caught the eye of many due to his extensive list of accomplishments. Not only as a producer; but as Funeral Ost label owner, INSTASIS founder (alongside ADMINISTRATOR, DUKT and HAADA) and under his DJ alias The Hurricane. Connection Verified have been one of many intrigued by his well thought out approach to all aspects of music, with this rapport bringing Oliver to play at numerous CV parties both locally as well as in Leipzig. CV's operations originally started up in the midst of both cities wonderful scenes, but now they are primarily based in Naarm/Melbourne.

The release date could not be more perfectly timed, where each track’s adroit exploration into boundless rises and emotional pads is flawlessly in tune with the tenderness of spring, leaving the listener merciless to its atmospheric warmth. In many ways, its progression and sense of purpose is suitable for the most remarkable of film scores. However, somehow each twist and turn of Moir's production and its lasting, reminiscent texture paints a picture without the need of any visual aid. Simply put ‘I Rocked Till the Midnight Hour at Melissa’s Bat Mitzvah’ has the capacity of evocation, whether that be an air of contentment, melancholy or somewhere in between.

To celebrate the release, FROCKUP had a chat with Oliver; discussing the constantly evolving dynamics of the LP, major sources of inspiration and his special relationship with the Dave Smith Mofo and Nord lead 2.

Photo by Acorn Skellington

Hi Oliver, thanks so much for joining us for a chat about your upcoming ambient LP. First of all, congratulations on your incredible release. How have you been coping this year with everything going on? Thank you very much for having me and for your kind words. I have been relatively lucky considering everything. A bit of workflow has been disrupted and finding the motivation to tackle new projects can sometimes take a bit of a push, but I’ve mostly tried to stay positive and keep perspective. If that doesn’t work: vino.

You’ve had a lot of history with Connection Verified, with your ‘Stranger in a Strange Place’ EP being released on CV (under your Sandman alias), playing at a CV event in Leipzig and have even played a b2b with CV label owner ADMINISTRATOR at your INSTASIS parties (that you founded alongside ADMINISTRATOR, DUKT and HAADA in 2017). How did you first come into contact with ADMINISTRATOR and in turn build such a strong relationship with CV?

I met ADMINISTRATOR through some pretty random circumstances. Before meeting them and the rest of the INSTASIS crew, I was promoting and playing with a different collective. We were running a party up in Sydney and the CV crew were a few of maybe 15 people that came along. There was absolutely no atmosphere until their class of hoodlums rocked up. 5-months later I run into them at The Mercat and by chance the two of us also met the other members of INSTASIS on the same night. It’s a fantastic example of four like-minded people becoming friends and collaborating on a project we all have a great deal of passion for. My relationship with CV was born from that. We have collaborated on music under our alias Sandman & The Wizard, played on the radio together, run parties and toured some interesting producers and DJs. ADMINISTRATOR and Hooover (the other half of CV) also invited me to play at a couple of their parties while I was in Europe last year. They are some of my closest friend and we really enjoy working together. ADMINISTRATOR and I are hoping to have another record out under Sandman & The Wizard pretty soon.

Photo by Eva Moore

Your LP has many interesting twists and turns, from the soaring synths in the opening track ‘This Is No Ordinary Puppet Show’, to the intricate hi hat design looming in the foreground of ‘Sleep Now, The Dust Won’t Settle’. What was the creative process behind the making of your album? Was it produced purely using software or did you centre its creation around any specific hardware?

It’s an interesting question; and my answer will likely be bit all over the shop – sorry! My creative process is very much based around experimentation. This album has been building in the background for the better part of three years. Some of the tracks I made while living in Mansfield and others while on artist residencies in Porto, Portugal and Queenstown, Tasmania. Sometimes a track can find its feet over a couple of nights of persistence, while others might actually be the combination of two tracks that were constructed 18-months apart. The development of the album realistically started with a 3 track EP that was a coming of age tale about a young man falling for his childhood crush. Eventually, after some tinkering and continuing to produce and compose music, I saw an expanded story that I felt I could tell. As far as the technical aspect goes, I don’t use any software other than a recording DAW when producing. Everything is made using hardware; namely synthesizers and drum machines. I’ve started to build up a small collection of synths, including a Korg, a Novation and a few Rolands. This record, however, was put together using a Dave Smith Mofo and Nord Lead 2. The Nord creates a beautiful array of sounds; rich, lush and defined. It is maybe the only reason I would buy home and contents insurance.

You are an incredibly versatile DJ and producer, from your shared techno focused events/podcast series venture INSTASIS to your concept record label Funeral Ost. Did the difficulties of this year and the harsh reality of the coronavirus instigate the making of such a warm, emotive ambient album over anything else? I suppose they did in a way; and I’m really glad you see the record as warm and emotive. There are definitely certain moods I am going for throughout. However, because the record has been in production for nearly three years now, I can’t really attribute it to the state of the world. The record is intended to be a meeting of thoughtful reflection and passionate expression. For me, there is nothing quite like listening to a record that makes you light up and which gives you a sense of purpose. Although instinctively that might not be the reaction you’d expect to have from a label named ‘Funeral OST,’ our releases are very much intended to be in the same vein. It is about creating a positive conversation around life and death and owning your own memory. I find it really liberating.

Art by Zoe Blow

The expressive tones, evocative textures and the occasionally futuristic ambience of your LP feels at times reminiscent of the work of early electronic greats, such as Vangelis or Klaus Schulze. Were they sources of inspiration for this release or are there other artists that more accurately influenced your sound?

That’s a really humbling comparison, especially Vangelis. I remember first showing my brother Into the Thunderhead, and he made the comparison to Vangelis’ score for Blade Runner. To be honest, I don’t think I actively look at respective artists and think to myself ‘I want to make that sound’. I think their influence comes subconsciously and I find myself pinpointing who that is, after the record has been produced. As you might imagine, the influences change depending on the record I am composing/producing. If it’s techno, anything hard and fast. The record I released for my own funeral at the start of the year, In Memory Of… feels informed by artists like Emily A. Sprague, William Basinski, Jefre Cantu Ledesma and GAS. They all seem to work within the theory of Locked Groove. The consistent looping of 4 to 16 bars, and in some cases slowly building up the track to a crescendo. I Rocked Till the Midnight Hour at Melissa’s Bat Mitzvah is a little different. I finished the record a few months ago and upon reflection, I feel as though it would suit as a score for a film. Anything Johan Johannsson composed for film makes me melt. His work on Mandy, Arrival and Prisoners have all had a great impact on my production in recent times. I think that can be felt through the storytelling nature of the record. Other influences might include early M83 (namely, Saturday = Weekend), Gigi Masin and Dedekind Cut. Masin’s record Calypso, released earlier this year, is hauntingly beautiful and highly emotive. It’s a must listen in my eyes.

Tell us a bit about the title, ‘I rocked till the midnight hour at Melissa’s Bat Mitzvah’. Is there a specific story behind its unique name?

Yeah so, there was a trend in the 90’s of parents making T-shirts for their child’s Bat/Bar Mitzvah. I was lucky enough to come into possession of one, which was Melissa’s Bat Mitzvah. I’m pretty sure it occurred before I was born actually. From there I created a loose story about a young man who goes to his crush’s Bat Mitzvah and navigates being young and in love.

Photo by Oliver Moir

Releasing music during these wild times is vastly different to a traditional launch. How have you found this process and do you have any form of virtual launch parties or anything of that nature in the works?

It’s an interesting question, and unfortunately, I am not sure if I’m the right person to ask. The process has been a little drawn out, but without a doubt it’s been for the better. It has allowed for plenty of back and forth between me and CV; laying out the best way to release, making informed decisions around PR, not rushing anything. We don’t have much planned at this stage. I think CV and I have a similar attitude towards these things. I am really glad live streams exist and that virtual launches and parties are happening. I think they are fantastic for an industry that has been devastated by COVID-19. Having said that, I’m not sure they are necessarily the right thing for me or this release. I’m chewing at the bit to play out but until then I’m happy to keep my head down and focus on other projects.

Photo by Chayto Nadin

Thank you for taking the time to chat to us. But before you go, what’s next for you? Have you been working on any other projects during this lock down period?

I’ve got a few things in the works actually. I am hoping to release a few more EPs this year and Funeral OST. has six more releases lined up for the remainder of 2020, which I am really looking forward to as well. My older brother has made a collection of experimental longform tracks as a homage to the seasons which is exceptional. I’ve also got a few short films in the works at the moment. One of them, The Night Runs Red (shown below), is a stop motion animation about a pair of mannequins who go on a date in a beach side town. It’s kind of a love at first sight meets surreal thriller. Hopefully it will be ready for a festival tour come early 2021. Lastly, a few close friends and I about to start working on a podcast series called Direct-to-DVD. It’s essentially the three of us pitching film ideas to one another. Each episode is a different genre, and we will either greenlight the idea or can it. Not too sure if there is a market for it, but for the most part it’s a great way to have a laugh and riff a few ideas at one another.

Thank you very much for the time guys, I really appreciate it. Best of luck with FROCKUP.

The Night Runs Red by Oliver Moir

To stay up to date with Oliver Moir, follow his instagram and Spotify.

Pressed at RAND Muzik - Record Manufacturing

Distributed by Shite Music

Art by Zoe Blow

Words and Interview by James Morgan

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