interview: Oh Pep!
When I first got the email about interviewing Oh Pep!, the adorably catchy folk-rock-indie quintet based out of Melbourne, I couldn’t help but think how clever it was that leading ladies Olivia Hally (guitar/vocals) and Pepita Emmerichs (violin/mandolin) creatively married their names to come up with something that perfectly describes their style of music. The more I listened to their newly released EP, conveniently stream-able on Soundcloud, the more I liked their original mix of folk, rock, and bluegrass.
Pepi was happy to answer some of my questions, so read on below to learn more about how Oh Pep! came to fruition, what’s coming up next for the band and everything in between.
After listening to your EP, it’s clear that your music is an original mix of different kinds of folk, pop, rock, indie and more. Is genre important to you, or do you feel it is limiting?
Mostly, our music is a refection of the kinds of music Olivia and I listen to a lot – pop, folk and country. Though on the other hand we also study classical and jazz music and our band members have backgrounds in rock, bluegrass and world music too. So, I guess genre is not an aspect we consciously think about while making music and we don’t let it limit us; all our different backgrounds just seem to blend naturally in to what becomes Oh Pep!
Was there a particular moment or artist that made you want to pursue music when you were growing up? Who were your early influences?
Liv and I met at the VCA secondary school and I think it was there that we became set on pursuing music. And although we were not playing our originals so much back then, the school was a huge inspiration and a great environment to learn music in. Speaking on behalf of us both, I’d say our biggest earliest songwriting influences would have to be Paul Kelly, Ryan Adams, Gillian Welsh, Andrew Bird, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Glen Hansard, Elbow, Bright Eyes and Arcade Fire. They still are.
How long have you been playing together?
We started playing together at VCASS when Liv was in year 12, and I was in year 11, so that would have been 2009. Wow, it seems like a long time ago now! We had a few incarnations of the band, but we found our perfect match with Justin, Paddy and Stuart mid 2011.
Did you find it at all difficult to adjust from performing as a duo to the current five-piece lineup?
As soon as we got Stu, Jus and Pad in the room together, it clicked right away with us. Their playing seems to compliment our songs and arrangements to a tee, which is very exciting! Jus is solid as a rock/awesome and Stu brings in the perfect amount of catchy bass lines and groove, Paddy always plays great, imaginative lines that add another layer of tastiness.
What are your other interests/passions?
I have always been into art/drawing, and also love riding my pink bike and soccer. Liv is really into everything, I can’t think of anything she doesn’t do! We both really like scrumptious food, going swimming at the beach and traveling!
Greatest achievement to date?
It would have to be releasing and recording our self -titled EP earlier this year. We had never undertaken anything like it before and I don’t think we realized what we were getting ourselves in to, especially as it was completely self produced, funded, organized and designed! But we came out the other end with an awesome product (we think anyway, are we allowed to say that about our own work?!) We are extremely happy with it in any case, and to top it off we had a great, packed out launch of it at the Toff in September!
Do you think the music industry treats female musicians differently than male musicians? Do you think it’s more difficult for women to establish themselves?
Hhhhm, this is a tricky question, and perhaps because we are female, we are biased. However, when I think of the amount of female artists there are out there in the scene, compared to males, there really aren’t many, and I do think that is because of the way the music industry treats them. In the pop world, females are, majority of the time, seen/accepted only as singers, and sex symbols, not talented individuals/instrumentalists like many men. The industry should be promoting women in music a great deal more in my opinion – there are too many boy bands out there!
A song I wish I wrote/played is…
Oh gosh, there are so many I wish I’d written…but right now I’d nave to say Perfect Day by Lou Reed, and I think Liv would say something like Desire by Ryan Adams.
What is your favorite part about being a musician?
My favourite part would have to be connecting to people through music, and I love the fact that any one piece of music can mean so many different things to each person and evoke so many emotions…getting too philosophical now?! But also that music is such a mystery, and no matter how long or hard you study it, we really still know nothing!
The best advice we ever received was…
How do you feel about the internet’s role in promoting your music? Do you feel that the sense of community you’ve created by putting your music online and networking with fans and fellow musicians is tangible at your live performances? How important is social media for you?
The internet is a huge tool for any musician/band today, and it has only done positive things for us. At the moment, we have a facebook, soundcloud, our own website and you can purchase our EP on iTunes. Without these pages, we would not be able to reach the large audience we are, and international listeners. It also enables us to get in contact/network with other artists we want to get involved with, and become accessible to fans, which is of highest importance. The majority of our organizing also happens through email. However in the end, the internet should only back up what you do on stage and the music you make, because it can’t ever make up for live show!
What’s next for Oh Pep!?
We are getting quite busy at the moment, with a stream of gigs already booked for the first part of 2013, including a trip to Tamworth, and a regional tour. We are also gearing up for our classic albums show at Pure Pop in January, where we have undertaken the challenging task of covering Paul Simon’s Graceland, which is one of our all time favourites! Other than that we are looking to record and release a new single, and a film clip…an album is also on the cards! Keep and ear out for us!