OoTiSkulf: Home Discomfort

She's a mysteriously named Breton singer with an intriguing and unsettling demo and a past singing with a hardcore rock band. At Les Vieilles Charrues, Rockfort sat down in caravan for a conversation with OoTiSkulf.


Rockfort: You’ve played with various groups in the region, like John Trap, who it seems had a pretty hardcore rock sound.
O: Yes, John Trap was much rockier. It was a group with Thomas, my husband, from ten years ago and we were really in tune with anything relating to hard-edged rock, but always with the idea of trying to develop atmospheres, working on the sound. And it’s true that, apart from that, there are collaborations if someone suggests something that sounds interesting – Chapi Chapo Et Les Petits Musiques de Pluie and Poor Boy, who we’ve done two remixes for. I like dipping my toe into other people’s musical worlds.
Rockfort: It sounds like you’re part of quite a close-knit family of musicians – including your husband, obviously.
O: Yes, it’s true that we’ve had a team around us for a number of years, and we also try to explore new territories. For example one collaborator Arnaud Le Gouëfflec is from Brest and we met via the internet, and we started working that way – it was a year before we met face to face. We’ve also worked with a guy from Houston. It’s important that the input is as diverse as possible.
Rockfort: Is John Trap where you started out then?
O: Yes, it was the first group where I took on the singing role, where I did something other than backing vocals. The idea was that Thomas was the group leader, or at least the lead vocalist, but at the first rehearsal he said “Ok, you’re going to do it, it’ll be better.” We toured for four years with that group, and we played a lot in the time – all the little bars and festivals. We went through everything with that group, rows and lighter moments, so it was an interesting experience.
Rockfort: So you gradually found your way into music…
O: Yes. I’ve known Thomas since high school and he was always working on music. I watched and took it in, but I didn’t really have the confidence to try singing, I was quite timid, and that was really the case up until we started John Trap. That was when I said “This is it, this is for me.” It was a revelation for me.
Rockfort: You went beyond what you thought you were capable of.
O: Yes, it was something that previously I couldn’t imagine myself doing, I didn’t really think I was capable of singing like that. And what interests me is trying out new things, treating my voice, not settling for something plain.
Rockfort: Were you comfortable on stage straight away?
O: No, I had some difficulties. Getting on stage is also daring to try certain things. But I got there bit by bit. And I’m not there yet, I think I can get much better! But with this new project I feel quite liberated, I do things much more instinctively, I let myself go more.
Rockfort: When did OoTiSkulf start?
O: In 2002, 2003, when I became pregnant with my first child and it was harder for me to shout. I had this thing living inside me and I didn’t really want to frighten it!
Rockfort: So it come out of being at home a lot more?
O: Yes. I had a child and lost my father at around the same time so my sense of my place in the world shifted quite a lot. Being alone in my living room and working at my own pace seemed like the most obvious choice, rather than playing gigs or doing something more strenuous.
Rockfort: On stage you’ve got a band around you, but to begin with was OoTiSkulf just you?
O: I always work with my husband, Thomas. He’s a real composer, he helps me develop songs from an initial idea and guides me towards something more solid, whereas I have a tendency to just throw out ideas. With the words, we share the work. It can very well start out with an idea from Thomas, or otherwise I have some lyrics or a melody then he’ll give it a musical setting.
Rockfort: You recently played a concert with Dominique A.
O: Yes, we supported him in November of last year. It was a great experience. It was our first show as a full live band, so it we were very fortunate. The promoter had found us on MySpace and proposed the gig. Of course I said yes, there was no question. Then I said “Oops!”
Rockfort: A little bit of pressure…
O: Yes, definitely pressure. I didn’t know all his work, but I knew how much he’d done and that it really corresponds with what I like. So it was a great night, and he’s a great man.
Rockfort: What are you working towards now?
O: We’ve got an album in French that we’re going to release at the beginning of 2011 written by me, Thomas and Arnaud Le Gouëfflec. We’ve performed acoustic versions just to get the songs out there a bit, but that’s not necessarily what the arrangements are going to be like on the album which are quite dreamy, magical. We’ve also got a guest on two songs, a renowned figure in the French rock underground, but we’re waiting for the authorisation to use his name so for the moment he’s the ‘mystery guest’.
Rockfort: ‘Tim Burton-esque’ has come up a few times in descriptions of your music.
O: That’s fine for me, I love Tim Burton’s films. I like way his films are both childlike and nightmarish, and his visual sense. I don’t know if it corresponds with everything we do, but it’s certainly something that inspires us.

Interview and translation by David McKenna