Investigating the various bands at this year’s Camden Crawl I came across ”The Oscillation’ a band who have had various incarnations and at present consists of Tom Relleen, Valentina Magaletti and founder member Demian Castellanos. After listening to a couple of tracks I visited their website which comments, ‘The Oscillation’s third album “From Tomorrow” is an attempt to find some kind of new mental and spiritual zones, away from the psychological effects of the modern urban landscape, and the curious emptiness of the digital social world that we are forced to inhabit. The introversion of these bleak and unsettling conditions are reflected back as music with all the ambiguous emotions of hope, despair, aggression, indolence and narcoleptic bliss’ (4). Intrigued I contacted Demian who was kind enough to agree to an interview.
Q. Picasso wrote about art washing away the dust of everyday life from the soul (1). Is that something you would aim for with your music, that it would wake people up?
I haven’t heard that. Yeah I could relate to washing away the dust from everyday life. I try to put in all/any emotions that are present into an idea and would hope that it could be the case. But sometimes my fear is that it’s hard to know if you are really exorcising something or giving more life to it by giving this stuff more energy. I feel like I’m not really becoming even remotely enlightened as time goes by and I’d hoped that by exploring some dark stuff in music there would be some epiphany or feeling of release. But I think that can’t be the case (with me anyway!).
I’m not so sure about wanting to wake other people up. If someone out there relates to it then that’s great. I don’t think of myself as any kind of messenger for the people, although I do feel some kind of duty to just do what I feel is needed at the time musically
Q. We live in a physical and social world that is shaped by and for the elite, in an interview with APF (2) you compare it to the film ‘They Live”-is your music a comment on that, an alerting of people to it or an act of resistance against it?
Yeah it really seems that way doesn’t it? And more and more things come out that where once people would have said something was a “conspiracy theory” which is the ultimate way of putting down some idea or possibility that you don’t want to look at. But actually it’s just something that some people have had the guts to talk about and further down the line they are often proved right.
I was just expressing what I felt but I don’t think I want to put myself in any position where I’m feel qualified to have any coherent opinions. But I’m not afraid to admit that I find modern reality a bit of a joke. I’ve been quite interested in the books of Michael Talbot recently, with his theories on parallel realities and quantum physics. I don’t know where all that is going as that makes things even more confusing (for me!). Let’s just say that I’m pretty disillusioned with money and survival in the modern world, I almost have this fear that some people are being edged out this world by the cost of modern living, not just financially but this endless bombardment of advertising everywhere you go. “Obey” ha ha.
Q. What is the song ‘No place to go’ about?
It’s an ode to feeling pretty frustrated about everything but also celebrating it, it’s kind of a bit sarcastic and taking the piss out of the lethargy that is so easy to sink into.
Q. The Situationists pointed out that much of what we experience is mediated to us, is second hand, representation-do you think (live) music can help reconnect us to reality?
I don’t know because I don’t feel that the music I want to make really engages with reality, as so much of it seems superficial and hard to believe as it is. Whether that’s the music or reality or both. Maybe in a live format it’s more visceral and somehow easier to feel the energy of sound so there are literal things that resonate the body, whether that helps to reconnect I couldn’t really say. I guess as an audience member there are times where I’ve felt really invigorated by other people’s music, emotionally, physically or both. But I do love listening to records really loud as well and hearing the production and the moment it was made in. Although for sure it’s a totally different thing from live.
Q. You said that music can be ‘transformative’ (3), could you expand on that..
I hope that music can be transformative but I’m not really sure. For some reason I find it quite hard to write overtly positive music but that’s not because I feel negative all the time, it just seems to happen that the lyrics come out that way, so it makes me think that there’s some form of exorcism going on to clean out the system in some way. It’s obviously not a good idea to contain negativity so you have to get it out of you as best you can and in the process try and see it in a different light while you are. I wouldn’t want to just throw a lot of pessimism at people. For example “Never Mind The Bollocks” is really energising to listen to as is “Pornography” and loads of other records that are maybe born out of anger or whatever emotion. Not that I’m comparing “From Tomorrow” to those albums!
Q. What were some of the issues you were exploring on ‘From Tomorrow’? On your website you comment that urban late capitalism has created ‘bleak and unsettling conditions'(4).
It’s because I feel a bit out of step with the way that London and probably all cities are developing. It seems harder to get by for lots of people that I know (and obviously for lots of people I don’t know). I have this slightly paranoid feeling that everything is getting a bit homogenised and we’re being forced, through not particularly subtle means, to comply or get out if you’re not prepared or able to be a part of it. There seems to be an increased international attempt to shove entertainment down everyone’s throats to keep the masses happy, to disguise it. I guess this is more of the “They Live” scenario.
Q. Who have you been inspired by musically?
The Durutti Column, The Deviants, early Pink Floyd, The Stranglers, The Cure, The Stooges, Klaus Schulze, Popol Vuh, Miles Davis, Tangerine Dream, PIL.. there’s always loads I can’t remember when I’m asked that question. I just try to absorb as I can.
Q. In Relational Aesthetics the art piece is competed by the contribution of others, is it in the live setting that The Oscillation’s music finds its fullest expression?(3)
Well I’d say that it’s another side of expression for the songs as opposed to be the fullest expression of them. There’s parts of making albums that I love and find frustrating and that’s also true of playing live. I like the spontaneity of playing live and when we’re all playing well and the sound is good it’s a great feeling. But I really appreciate the time and thought that you have to put into writing songs and making an interesting sounding record, and you kind of need time and reflection to do that. Also I like the opposing thing of recording in a bubble without the feeling of pressure from other people watching or listening in, and I get a kick out of live performance when you’re totally immersed and people can get something out of it too. Playing live goes against my comfort zone quite a lot so it’s a good thing to push against that I think. I couldn’t have one without the other to be honest.
Photo Credit: Elodie Cretin