We got to interview Obscura Hail for an Artist Spotlight! The three-piece from Wollongong, NSW Australia have a unique basement pop sound. Their vocals are lightly sprinkled throughout their melodies which are so crisp. Check out what they had to say in our interview!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
Pretty boring story earlier on. I took piano lessons I did not care for, passively soaked in the ambiance of my parents’ audible tug of war on the radio, flicking between They Might Be Giants and The Carpenters, for scope. I eventually caught on to what my older brother and sister were into, and my uncle shoved my head into the proverbial toilet the Sex Pistols took shots at, and flushed. Started a pop punk band in high school, yelled my voice off for a few years, and then it happened.
High school, yr. 11
bad teeth from years of candy neglect
blindly choose amalgam
find out amalgam has mercury in it
get frightened of developing Alzheimer’s
start nightly routine giving closure to thoughts in recorded song form through barely audible plucking’s and high register whispers, soft enough not to wake up family, but stacked thick enough to make out the words.
no waste policy
release everything as it comes
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
It feels foreign to write a song with just a pen, paper, and an instrument. Either my forgetfulness or the self-fulfilling nature of that fear ensures that I only have a short window to capture something. So the songwriting and production are co-dependent; everything follows the echo of what I’ve just recorded. I’ll typically have the foundations for the song in front of me within an hour, and I just thicken it up with finer details (harmonic vocal layering overkill). More often than not, the song is written, recorded, and mastered by morning. These are for Obscura Hail.
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
They Might Be Giants, for their silliness and stamina, and personal nostalgic qualities
Sun Kil Moon, for his songwriting growth
The Cranberries, for piercing the haze on the bus to school
Matti Bye, for the chagrin, and a reminder of the void
Mount Eerie, for preserving grief so beautifully, and their recording process
Imogen Heap (Frou Frou), for their vocal expression and indie production
Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill series), for conjuring tension in repetition
Jonsi and Alex, for carrying me through periods of depression
Gregory and The Hawk, for putting new shapes in my hands
Iron and Wine, for the whispers
Bill Callahan, for the patience and simplicity of subject matter
Jerry Martin, for Build 4
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
Not a huge nerd for any instruments or amps, but I have a thing for any production gear that makes capturing sound more intuitive and monitoring more enjoyable. Specifically, I can’t do without my set of binaural microphones and my stereo loop pedal.
The 3Dio Freespace Pro is a binaural microphone that looks like someone cut off their ears and glued them to a metal box. I started using them back in 2013 to write/record music after watching a ton of ASMR videos on Youtube, where they were used to capture an array of weird and wonderful sounds, intended to trigger a tingly response in the listener. These included whispers, weather ambiance, body sounds, and for me, the sensation of licking a tennis ball against the fur. They simulate the way your ears naturally receive sound, so headphones are a must. They sit on a swiveling tripod next to my desk, and I change their orientation/ move around the room to place a sound spatially in the mix. I have legit plans to build a body around them and take it to shows.
The Boss RC-30 stereo loop pedal came to me around the same time, mostly to create it gives you seemingly infinite loop time/stacking over just two separate loop channels per project, which is just enough of a limitation to get creative with how you arrange sounds on it. I channel the binaural mics through a mixer, along with some other instruments, into the Boss RC-30 to create the loops, while recording the whole loop session on my H6. It means I really have to commit to what I’m looping, but I have the flexibility to access something I did while jamming along with it.
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
I like small intimate spaces that encourage sitting down and soaking in not only what’s in front of you, but the people next to you, like Long Play’s cinema room in Melbourne, or Golden Age theatre in Sydney. I recently toured both for the latest record, and the crowed ended up inter-mingling throughout the set, friends of friends became friends. I guess I just want people to become friends over my music. I don’t always play these kinds of shows, and that’s ok, it’s cool to play to big rooms with a sea of faces, but the subject matter gets a bit lost in the white noise.
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
Every song is sparked by a fear of memory loss
7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
I established a routine in 2015 where I release a post via Patreon with a 3 track EP attached every weekend (sometimes sporadically), including anything from demos of new songs, ancient songs I’ve dug up, mashups, ambient binaural records, custom ringtones, experimental tracks, funny homemade music videos, sketches, photography, poems, and general ramblings about my creative process. It’s 145 volumes strong, and in need of some ears. Probably the best place to get a handle on what’s coming up for Obscura Hail, and hey, I appreciate the loose change.
Subscribe at Patreon.com/obscurahail