You once said your first album, Blumenkraft, took 20 years to produce. Why was that and do we have to wait anywhere near as long for your next piece of work? When can we expect something new?
Twenty years because I started making music at the age of 15 and my first solo album was released when I was 35.
I was doing other stuff during that time, mainly helping other people make their records, but in the back of my mind was the hope that one day I’d make something good enough to release, and that’s how long it took me. I have loads of old DAT tapes full of all the hundreds of ‘not quite good enough’ songs I had to do to get there.
My new album is well underway and should be ready for release in early-mid 2020.
"It’s certainly possible to carve out a niche today without label affiliation, if you’re distinctive enough."
Your last two albums have been completely self-produced off the back of Kickstarter campaigns, spurning the machinations of the music industry in a seemingly ‘fuck you’ to the PR that runs it. How would you describe how the industry works?
It isn’t really a ‘fuck you’, I just don’t need the music industry in the same way I don’t need a fax machine. They’re obsolete, things have moved on.
I used to work in the music industry, as a freelance engineer, and what I saw during those ten years eroded my soul. There’s lots of money, booze, coke, and rampant ego sloshing about, and all that combined with the pressure to sell makes people behave like douchebags. It’s hyper-competitive, cutthroat, dishonest, uncaring and toxic.
Do you think this self-producing and promoting route is achievable for up and coming artists or is it a path you have found success with because of an already established career? If it wouldn’t work for newcomers, what would?
It’s certainly possible to carve out a niche today without label affiliation, if you’re distinctive enough.
If you’re spending your time making bog-standard, generic, cookie-cutter Psytrance or Dubstep or whatever, you’re going to have a hard time getting heard above all the other people doing exactly the same thing, so the best strategy in 2019 is to be as distinctive and individual as you can. If you’re doing it from the heart and you are diligent about doing the best job possible, you’ll rise above the noise.
The thing you have most in your favour is that people love to share with their friends the awesome new art-thing they found on the internet, and the technology we have makes that super-easy to do. Word-of-mouth, organic, viral spread is the most powerful marketing channel there is.
Shouty, persistent Facebook ads and Instagram or email ‘marketing’ drives are just annoying. Never do that.
Speaking of psychedelic, would you rather fight one horse-sized rabbit or 100 rabbit-sized horses and why? Who would win and how?
I’m a lover, not a fighter. If I were to encounter 100 tiny horses I’d be totally enchanted; it wouldn’t occur to me to want to hurt them. I’d probably try to take a few home as pets.
A half-ton rabbit would be fucking awesome. Imagine climbing on its back and falling asleep? How fucking awesome would that be? Suddenly I haz a sad because I know that will never happen. Boo hoo, etc. Want big rabbit.
If you could jump in a time machine and go to any gig in history, which one would it be?
June 4th, 1976, Sex Pistols, Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England. If only to know definitively if all the people who say they were there, were actually there.
You’re coming to Australia next March to play a single show for a new event, Rapture, that is the only event in the country dedicated to downbeat electronic music. There seem to be a few of these events popping up internationally in the last few years. Do you think there has been a resurgence in the popularity of downbeat recently and, if so, why?
From my perspective, I see a fantastically healthy music scene all over the planet, with pockets of arts-based community in every corner.Tempo doesn’t seem to be the defining factor in any of it.
"From my perspective, I see a fantastically healthy music scene all over the planet, with pockets of arts-based community in every corner. "
What is the most outrageous stereotype you know about Australia or Australians that you kind of think is actually true?
Koalas – evil little fuckers. This cab driver who drove me to my hotel, the very first time I arrived in Australia, he told me they drop out of trees and cling onto your face, like in the film ‘Alien’. He said there are thousands of people killed by koalas every year. He also said the only thing more dangerous in the entire continent than a koala is a dunny-budgie. Thankfully I never encountered one of those.
Do you have any superstitious things you need to do or have when you play? Lucky pants anyone?
Not when I play, particularly, but I always salute magpies. I spent the first 50 years of my life fearfully avoiding the number 13, and now I actively seek it out, because I’m a rebel.
I always send Zoe the exact same text message whenever I sit down in an aeroplane.
In my studio, I use patch cords in the same order: red, yellow, green, black, repeating.
On the first day of every month I say, backwards, out loud, the name of a popular UK TV show from the 1970s, a chain I haven’t broken since January 1st 1980.
Ott will be playing one show only in Australia on 21 March 2020 at Rapture, held in Rutherglen, Victoria, at Mount Ophir Estate Winery.
Interview questions by K Forrest for Rapture.