There are some tracks that stay with you no matter what - they tell a story like no other. Oliver Chesler aka The Horrorist made such a track. But it's only a small part of his musical career. Running his "Things to Come" label, djing, producing and now back behind the decks at parties such as Synthicide and the forth coming event at Cameo Gallery with Belgian ebm band Vomito Negro, he's busier than ever. We caught up with him ahead of the party on Friday.
CGNY: Oliver thanks for the time – you’ve been in this game – despite your youthful looks – for a while now – what is the biggest change you’ve seen in clubbing in NYC over the last while and for better/worse/different?
OC: In the late 80s and early 90s Manhattan was the place to be. When Giuliani became mayor he cleaned things up too much. There was a nice few years in the early 2000s with Larry Tee’s Electroclash taking over Brooklyn but it was short lived. The past 5 years has seen a nice resurgence of NYC nightlife. There are fun “underground” clubs in Bushwick and Queens, classic parties in Manhattan and commercial techno parties in stadiums all around. There are even some after parties you can find if you like trouble. Musicians and DJs like to come here.
CGNY: For a naïve Irish woman (still learning :))– tell us about you got into the music scene in the first place?
OC: Growing up in NYC in the early 80s rap and breakdance culture was a big deal. Through that I got into drum machines. When I became interested in girls and had my heart broken by chance I heard Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration. It was only a few months later my father who was working at the time as a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University brought home a bunch of synthesizers. They closed the music department and he just filled up his van. At the time it was hard for me to make the music I love (synthpop and EBM/Industrial) but then techno hit. Anyone who tried could make early techno and it all started there. I was at the right place at the right time.
CGNY: Your track – One Night in NYC is such a legend of a track. It’s been remixed so many times. The vocal is so strong! I’ve played it out so much (naughty party vibes only!). Is it a blessing or a curse to have such a strong association with one track? How do you feel about it years on?
OC: It’s a blessing. Like most hits it wasn’t planned. I did it in my mother’s basement in just a couple of hours. In fact the recording is live with just me talking and muting channels on a mixer.
CGNY: What excites you musically these days – either of your own projects or stuff you are listening to?
OC: Now that I can create anything in my head nothing excites me more than when I finish a good song. Bands I am listening to these days include Jäger 90, Haus Arafna, Kontravoid, strange stuff I find on Youtube and my classic loves Depeche Mode, Leonard Cohen, etc...
CGNY: Do you think NYC will ever match other cities like Berlin for electronic music? There definitely seems to be a resurgence of interest in the harder side of techno but it still tends to be the overseas dj’s that folks come out for, despite there being so much local talent?
OC: Berlin will always hold the crown for electronic music. I lived there for 4 years and go back often. That said NYC has a large amount of artists doing incredible work. Artists create from what they see in their surroundings. NYC and Berlin are very different places. The old saying “If you can make it in NY you can make it anywhere.” is more true now than ever. Everything is expensive, moves fast and is all very political. If you have the stomach and drive it’s a fine place to operate.
"All humans leave behind is children and art. Remember that."
CGNY: What’s the most memorable gig you’ve had?
OC: Well they all blur together but I would say the techno parties I played at Prag in Stuttgart were always fantastic. Malta and Barcelona are always amazing too. I say this often but I would always rather play a small club than a big festival.
CGNY: What’s a typical day now for Oliver Chesler?
OC: I wake up. Feed Tiffy (my cat) and actually have a pretty big day job in Energy Services. I love money and currently have a pretty bad modular synth addiction so I need do more than what just music can provide. After I get the hard stuff over with I drink a nice large coffee and give myself 3-4 hours a day in the studio. Nothing makes me happier than working on music.
CGNY: You’ve been playing out a lot more it seems here in NYC at Synthicide and now with this new party that’s happening on Dec 5 at Cameo Gallery. Tell us about that. Who is Vomito Negro?
OC: Vomito Negro is one of the original Belgian Electronic Body Music Bands. They go back to the early 80s. They have quite an evil sound. Also booked to perform live is Love Pig, Nervous Gender, myself (The Horrorist) and DJ’s Reade Truth, Andi and Blackwidow. Everyone on the bill fits that edgy, black, mutant in your face sound I love. It’s going to be quite a night!
CGNY: Things to Come, your label – any new releases going on with that?
OC: Of course. I mostly release my own albums now. I don’t see much of a reason to use another label. So expect my new album and a string of singles/remixes from it early 2015. There will also be some wicked vinyl and merchandise!
CGNY: What makes you happiest, producing, djing, putting parties together?
OC: Producing. All humans leave behind is children and art. Remember that.
CGNY: Anything you want to share about projects for 2015? What is your best wish for the New Year for anything?
OC: Besides my next album I am hoping to put together a US tour. There are a lot of new North American electronic bands I like and I think we could all take to the road. I’ve been getting a lot of promoters from the USA asking so the time seems right.
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