Old Apparatus is one of the big mysteries of the current underground. There is hardly any reliable information about their origin, background or identity, and in the few interviews that they give, like the one that you can read below, they don’t offer many clues. Perhaps because there isn’t much to say: in this age of an unhealthy obsession with information, the existence of artists who don’t want to give out personal information - which might be unnecessary - is seen as an oddity, an anomaly, and even as a self-complacent marketing strategy. The little that we know about Old Apparatus is the following: it is a group of four people based in London, originally from the East end, with names as ordinary as Dan and Stephen. They spoke with us in this conversation and were responsible for making the mix you can hear now and getting it to us. They started to produce music together with an open, experimental focus and, for now, their production is limited to two EPs on Deep Medi, a Mala / Digital Mystikz label, and a cassette of improvisation with organic instruments for the small, exclusive label The Tapeworm.
The first 12” from Old Apparatus, self-titled, included two cuts - in reality there were four, but without any pauses between them - full of bass turbulence and dense layers of ambient. The second, “Zebulon”, played with dubstep beats and hip hop structures, and the cassette, “15:24-15:46”, is closer to post-rock than to post-dubstep. Their sound focuses, then, are diverse, and even contradictory; it is understood that they arise from four talents coming together and putting their ideas at the service of a group that is hard to label. One of the four members of Old Apparatus also handles the visual part, reflected in the covers, which show anthropomorphic people or figures with bits of machinery in their anatomy, and there is also graphic material in the live shows. We suggest you keep an eye out, because there will be more material soon on Deep Medi: an album, maybe?
First, I’d like to ask you about the genesis of the collective. When and where can the origins of Old Apparatus be traced back to, and what led you to work together?
We’ve known each other for a long time, three of us since we were kids. A shared passion for music and art meant that we were sharing our own and other people’s creations with each other, and over time this naturally formed into a shared creative vision that provided an outlet for what we create individually and as a collective.
Was there a common background shared by all of you? I mean, did OA start to grow from strong foundations, or did the final sound come from experimenting and trying out different options?
It’s a very organic process; we’ve never sat down and thought to make a specific sound or visual, whatever is created manifests itself without conscious thought, largely by nature of the four of us working together.
There’s no info about how many people OA consists of, and who you are, exactly. So, in case any of these questions may be answered, here you go: who are the members of OA? Where exactly are you from? Do you make, or have you made, music under other names?
We’re four people from East London.
Were you familiar with the Deep Medi / Digital Mystikz body of work?
Where do you think you fit in the current ‘bass’ scene in the UK?
No idea, we don’t make bass music.
“Zebulon” has a lot of differences compared to the first 12”, it’s mainly hip hop and dubstep. The change was so sudden that many of your followers after “Old Apparatus” didn’t understand what was going on. Was puzzling the audience something you wanted to achieve?
We listen to and make all types of music, so any record released by us is only really a snapshot of what we were exploring musically when it was made.
Your only release this year is a cassette for The Tapeworm. How did this happen? Are you fans of the tape format?
We’re mutual fans of each other’s output and were lucky enough to meet at a show, which is how it came about. We recorded it in our living room, with each of us playing an instrument live. Tape is good for adding a lo-fi aesthetic to a sound, which worked well for that recording.
Who’s in charge of the artwork for OA? When does this combination of late 19th-century photography and quirky machines come from? Is there any kind of steampunk attraction or background?
One of us creates all of the artwork and live visuals. We’ll leave the imagery up to people’s own interpretations.
The images have a sort of expressionist quality (in the shadows, especially). Is that something crucial in your image and sound?
Can you tell us a little bit about the mix you’ve done for us? What’s the idea behind it?
It’s good music by people we respect very much.
You’re going to play at the LEV Festival this year. We understand it’s going to be an AV show. For those who don’t have a clue about what might happen, what’s the show about?
Lots of music and sound. At the same time. Beer, too.
What are your next moves? Is there a new 12” in the making, or an album?
You’ll see very soon!
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