Ess O Ess Talk
You may have read about our love affair with Bad Passion. They touched us funny in a darkened room one night and it's gone from there. They're facing off against us at Garden Festival this year too – booking their bloody boat party the same time as R$N's… but that's another story entirely. We'll let you know who won next week.
Back to the matter in hand and Chris Stoker of Bad Passion has been studio loving it up with the excellent Jamie Blanco. They've been turning out some little beauties of late as 'Ess O Ess' on Love On The Rocks and LBL.
With that in our minds and our ears, we chatted to Mr Stoker and Mr Blanco about how much they love touching each other with synths…
Please introduce yourself:
Who are Ess O Ess?
Chris: Chris Stoker & Jamie Blanco……. Or Jamie Blanco & Chris Stoker depending on which one of us you're talking too.
Where are you both from?
Chris: Shiney Row just outside of Sunderland
Jamie: Woking in Surrey
What do you do?
Chris: I work for Folk clothing and also run Bad Passion with Andy Bainbridge from Machette Savane.
Jamie: Graphic designer at the Entwurf design studio. Producing records for London Housing Trust and Love on the Rocks
What's your earliest musical memory? How long have you known that music was the right path for you?
Chris: My dad playing Appetite for destruction in the car and my mam making him turn it off due to the choice content. Later that day he gave me the cassette on the proviso I didn’t tell my mam about it. Rock on Tommy !!!
Jamie: Apart from my parents playing Beatle records and my older sister's Duran Duran – Rio album being played over and over and over! I guess it was from 80's TV and the melodies in 80's TV theme tunes. The music at the start of Picture Box used to scare the hell out of me. I’ve just revisited it on youtube and It still does! On the other hand Kickstart was a big favourite.
How did you come up with the name Ess O Ess? Did you consider changing the O to an 'Oh' at all?
We’re both big Beach Boys fans which is something we bonded over when we first started hanging out. One of the stand out tracks from that period was when I played Sail On Sailor from the Holland album which Jamie jumped up to and we got talking a lot more about music. Then a little further down the line a few of us went to see Brian Wilson play live and surprisingly he played that track which was a poignant moment.
Calling ourselves ‘Sail On Sailor’ would be a bit fruity so that became S O S which in turn became Ess O Ess. And in answer to your second question…… No.
Who/what has had the greatest influence on your music?
Jamie: Japanese water bells and Tangerine Dream.
Chris: Difficult to pin point one thing as it’s ended up being a pooling of what were both Into but I’d definitely say it was a combination of more organic earthy sounding music mixed with some more synthy stuff that formed the building blocks for what our first bunch of tracks became.
How would you describe your sound? Are there any predecessors that you're regularly likened to?
Chris: Guess I just answered the 1st part part but In terms of what we’re likened to there’s a running joke with a good friend of ours who’s pretty much our arch nemesis in terms of musical tastes ( i.e. he has none and listens to shite ) who’s come up with a bit of a blanket term for what we make and listen to but I couldn’t possibly give him the satisfaction of letting on what it is. And as he will no doubt be reading this I'll welcome the opportunity with open arms to highlight what a rubbish pain in the arse he is ….. You know who you are…….. mate. xx
Tell us about your latest release – what inspired it and what message are you trying to get across?
Jamie: We discussed the music we like to make many times, mainly in an after party type state! at the time Chris had some wonky but very good ideas that I agreed with and thought we could make happen. With this and the aid of my studio we set about making what we'd discussed. Baboon was the first real tune we came up with. My studio consists largely of analogue synth and live instruments, playing everything in rather than programming Midi, that’s just the way we work and I learnt to work after playing in live bands for years. This all leant itself perfectly to this project with the mixture of live and electronics that shape our sound.
Chris: It kind of just fell into place once we decided what it was we actually wanted to make. We’d messed on with a few things before but it wasn’t really working then once we set a bit of a blueprint it happened pretty quickly. There’s a sample of a Baboon in there which started out as a bit of a piss take but then ended taking center stage.
Who wears the trousers, you or Jamie?
Jamie: Neither of us, I generally wear jeans and Chris wears something in between the same and 16th century pyjama bottoms.
Chris: To ensure we're always on a level playing field and that there’s no hierarchy when we're in the studio we made a rule that it’s trousers off at the door and we work balls out… It was a little awkward at first but once we started getting results it’s became the norm and now we find it quite liberating. Any would be collaborators should be made aware that you’ll be entering into a tackle out scenario should you be coming into the studio with us.
What animal would your sound be? Why?
Chris: By default it would have to be a baboon. As mentioned earlier one put’s in a little vocal performance in the track. Although everyone close to me know that I’m a huge champion of otters. No idea what sound they make but I’m sure it’s a good one.
Jamie: Clue is in the title of the release
Who are the people you get most excited about sharing a bill with?
Jamie– We’re fortunate in that a lot of our friends are doing similar things on the same circuit so we invariably end up playing together a lot.
You're out at Garden festival again this year. Tell us about your love affair with Adriatica.
Chris – For the same reasons we just mentioned we get to hang out and party with some of our nearest and dearest some of who live elsewhere in the country so always a big reunion. A holiday with a soundtrack. This year were at Garden 1st of all where there’ll be a Bad Passion vs Last Waltz boat party with Tiago and then Unknown in September.
What's the best record you've ever heard?
Chris – Mulligan & O’hare – My Rose Had Left Me
Jamie – Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate – The Greatest love of All. God Damn that boy can sing!
What's your greatest non-musical achievement?
Chris – 25 meters swimming certificate 1989. What a day.
Who is your least favourite cartoon character?
Jamie – I remember never having much time for Eric in Dungeons and dragons, he was always fucking shit up for the others!
What can we expect to hear from you in the near future?
Our next release is coming out on ENE Japan which I’m really excited about as it’s one of my favourite labels. It also has a really strong MAN POWER remix on it which I’ve not stopped listening to. Also finishing off a remix of Zsou’s Admiral Byrd at the minute as well as some other remixes and original material. Potentially a follow up track to Baboon on Love On The Rocks too after the next few releases they have in the pipeline. Probably worth mentioning that next up on LOTR is a release by Telephones with remixes by Gatto Fritto & Disco Dromo followed by Jamie’s solo ‘Violet Acid E.P’ looking to be released in October
Anything we might have missed?
The next Bad Passion party is happening on the 19th July with BLACK MERLIN & FELIX DICKINSON…. It's also our 6th birthday in September with CHIDA & THOMAS BULLOCK. See you on the tiles!
And also a credit to Amy Dover for the beautiful artwork she came up with. The brief was simple…. We need a picture of a Baboon… something trippy.
Baboon will be available for digital release soon along with bonus remix from Bad Passion…. again…..
I think we've just about rung the drops out of every opportunity for shameless self promotion that's been offered, and with that we're off.
Love Ess O Ess xx