Brooklyn based duo, Opal Onyx, are one of the bands at the forefront of the new wave of electronic-experimental acts to surface from the city’s underground scene.
Opal Onyx create a sound made up of reverb loaded guitar, the resonance of a cello and captivating, slightly haunting vocals all layered above selective sampling, and some wonderful ambient sound sculptures. The result is a mix that is at once familiar without been old, but at the same time it’s experimental and new.
Their debut album ‘Delta Sands’ has just been released on Tin Angel and we thought it was prime time to find out more.
How did you guys meet?
We got together in 2007; we met as co-workers at a hair salon in Cleveland and started playing music after work. There was an insane excitement for where we could take our sound and we instantly became best friends. Our first rehearsal was in Matt’s tiny attic apartment where we chilled out and listened to music, made drawings, and shared songs and ideas we’d been chewing on. The songs were simple guitar, vocals and cello. Thus spawned the incurable itch to acquire more gear
What was the music that brought you together?
We bonded over many albums. Nina Simone, Aphex Twin Ambient works, John Frusciante and Josh Klinghoffer’s Sphere in the Heart of Silence, Novy Svet’s Cuori Di Petrolio, David Lynch’s Crazy Clown Time, and Vincent Gallo’s Recordings of Music For Film to name a few.
Would you say that this is also the music that inspires you?
Yes definitely Nina Simone, Aphex Twin, John Frusciante & David Lynch, but also Bjork, Cocteau Twins, Colleen, PJ Harvey, Billie Holiday, Rachel’s, The Residents, Swans, and Ben Frost. At our jobs we wear headphones all day and absorb a lot of different music. Constantly discovering new bands and getting inspired.
How would you describe your sound?
A labyrinth of sound that is perpetually morphing in dynamic moods and concept. We’ve been told it’s dream pop, art rock noise, dark folk, psychedelic electronics, psychedelic industrial soul… define it however you wish. The music is created to take you on a journey and we use various sounds and styles to make that happen.
What about ‘Opal Onyx’? Where does that come from?
Our name references how our music can at times have a heavy, dark feel as in Onyx. Never intending though to conjure negativity and thus Opal adds the ever-changing colour and lightness of our personality and facets of our work. And also a few of the opal stone meanings are actually passion, love, emotional expressiveness, warmth, spontaneity and dramatic ability. These characteristics inspire us to embrace and incorporate into our sound.
What process do you follow for creating your music?
The writing process begins with a fragment and it very slowly takes shape. Many times we have things around for years until they mean something. The majority of the songs on Delta Sands started with Sarah writing them on guitar or mpc and then embellished and reshaped by Matt on cello, synth, and lap steel. Our new material on the other hand has been approached much differently as we begin to write them together more. Especially now with the addition of Heidi Sabertooth playing synth, beats, and soundscapes, we’re much more free with our vision and finally achieving the sound we’ve been looking for.
Tell us about the album…
Our new record is called Delta Sands and is out now on Tin Angel Records.
It was written over the course of about 6 years during which the songs had many faces until we were able to record them in a proper way. We recorded it with Cedar Apffel at Alligator Lady Studio in Brooklyn. The recording process was great because we had carte blanche to experiment with all kinds of instruments and random stuff to get sounds and textures we had only previously dreamt of.
What about playing live?
Our first gigs were at a place in Cleveland called BSide. We would go for open mic night and play with the same people week after week. We got into lots of fun trouble at those shows.
You could say our live show is getting larger. Having Heidi with us now has opened up a lot of possibilities. We are excited for the future.
Any other bands that you think we should be looking out for?
There are so many to look out for… Eartheather, Christine Hoberg, Eaters, Lazurite, Eden Sela, Bright Future, Small Death, Trabajo, Le Sphinxx, GLuuuu, Long Distance Poison, Isn’t Ours, Pam Finch, George Sand, Silent Isle, M Lamar and many others. All these lovely folks bring something very new and refreshing to the world of music. We also made a Soundcloud playlist of some of our favourite local bands.
What plans do you have for the future?
We will be working on recording the next album as we are again in need of purging a shit ton of ideas.
Opal Onyx are:
Sarah Nowicki (vocals, guitar, mpc)
Mathew Robinson (cello, synth, lap steel)
Heidi Sabertooth (synth, beats, and soundscapes)
Delta Sounds is available now through Tin Angel Records on vinyl or digital download –http://tinangelrecords.bandcamp.com/album/delta-sands
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