10 Questions With… A series that delves into the musical careers of some of our favourite artists, local and afar. With a particular focus on our Melodic Distraction friends and wider community, this lil natter gives us an insight into their musical escapades when they’re in their studio, not ours.
Formerly known as Gadzooks! we sit down with Ollie Roper to talk about rebranding his project, his advice on growing through the industry and Klof, a group of encouraging creatives giving artists space to perform and explore their craft with an audience.
Once known as Gadzooks!, I see you’ve changed your project to gladness, why the change?
When I was first writing all my songs at nineteen, they were all kinda spooky and I felt like the name Gadzooks! reflected that. It was also inspired by the German band Neu which just means ‘new’ and thought it was funny that if you saw that on a cover in Germany then it could be anything, much like Gadzooks! The project change to ‘gladness’ was to signify a genuine change towards taking everything I’ve learnt, applying it, planning properly, and taking it all seriously. To be conscious of how it’s all being received, they’re still my songs but it’s now more of a band than ever. The band itself is made up of artists that for the most part have their own solo projects, there’s Fin, Hannah aka Hank B, Cesca aka Trout, and Soph aka All Maudra.
What influences, musical or not, are inspiring your current writing process?
A big one for me that’s certainly influenced the name change is I’ve been listening to a lot of slowcore bands like Duster, Codeine, Slowdive. I liked how their names don’t make you feel happy or sad, it’s just kind of a word. Being glad about something is ambiguous in terms of emotional feeling towards something it could go either way. Other than that, I don’t read as much as people might think, but the last book I read that did have an effect on me was Notes from the Underground by Fryodor Dostoevsky. It’s about this guy who’s living his worst life and it’s almost like nothing happens, spoiler alert, in the end he’s the exact same, that’s enough to spook anyone into getting their life in to shape. I read and write a bunch of poetry too, Sigfried Sassoons war poems are ones that I try to invoke that cut and dry nature in my music.
What would be your go to record to cover?
I’ve done a few of these songs across sets before. There’s an album called 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Field, but instead of covering anyone of those 69 tracks, I would write 69 more love songs, all original, as like an ode to the record itself.
On that note, what have been your most spun records as of recent?
I’ve been listening to Feeble Little Horses new album called Girl with Fish. It’s just the maddest production of a new rock record I’ve heard in a while. Also, a song called Mirror by Grace Ives and recently discovered an album called Count Bateman by Frog.
What is it that you hope on lookers to get from seeing you live?
Sassoon’s poems that I mentioned before, they are sort of sweet but gross at the same time. They kind of force the reader to look at the ugly realities but also guide you through being able to manage those gut-wrenching feelings. It’s always been more about the words than the music itself for me, so I hope to convey this kind of feeling of discomforting understanding through the performance.
How do you find the collaboration process when it comes to translating your music to your bandmates?
I used to be the guitarist and lead singer, I’m still the lead on vocals but I’ve taken the position of drummer. I think because of the experience and competence of the other musicians in the band it’s made communication and translation far easier. It does mean that I’m forced to bring more fully formed ideas and songs to our sessions rather than bouncing a few chords and words around and hope to have a song at the end of it. There’s always gonna be an element of that as the band add their own flair to foster the cohesion of the project, it’s just more structured. It used to just be me whiling away doing the guitar, the bass, the vocals, the drums etc, it’s just more structured now.
What has being an artist in this day and age taught you about the music industry?
The main lesson I’ve taken away so far is not to rush. I feel like there is this incessant drive to put stuff out, like there’s a finish line to cross. I feel like you should be able to get to the end of writing, practicing, recording, and mixing something and still reserve the right to not release it if you’re not comfortable. Feels like too many artists just release music because they think they have to or don’t want to feel like they’ve wasted their time. We’re at the mercy of the algorithm now as well, unless you put the effort of promotion in yourself or have the help of a label then your music will be drowned out by the rest of the thousands of releases. It feels like it’s around the mid-twenties when a lot of people stop making music or trying to ‘make it’ and just get a ‘normal job’, but it’s not about ‘making it’ it’s about making.
What’s your take on the Liverpool music scene?
It’s so very diverse, there’s a lot of bands or even cities that are sounding the same in a lot of ways right now, but Liverpool has so much to offer in terms of what it is you can go and see on any given day. Also, you don’t have to live here for very long to learn where the spots are that you’re interested in and before you know it, you’re in those circles with those people who are willing to help you out. It’s always going to be competitive, especially as an outsider from any city that you don’t want to step on the toes of those around you because everyone is trying to make it. But for the most part it’s a great place to create.
You are part of a sort of collection of creatives called Klof, can you tell me a bit about that?
I don’t know if I like the idea of being called a collective as it sounds kinda corporate-y organisation-y but yeah, I guess that’s what we are. Essentially, most people involved play across each other’s projects, help each other out where we can. There are then others who haven’t necessarily made their own stuff yet that we encourage to do so, and that’s where the Klof events that we put on come in, we try to provide a space for them to perform and be their band if need be! There’s no real definition as to what we are but it’s always changing and we’re always trying to propel a sense of community. There will be a bunch more shows coming for the rest of the year too to get people heard.
What would you consider your ideal movements for 2023?
So, gladness is releasing a single and a b-side in a couple of months called Rest Your Head on My Head Baby and Nothing Ever Turns Out Right. These are sort of the last things I’ve done entirely on my own so it’s a nice transition into the creative stride I have with the band. I’m taking some time away from playing live, but I’ve got a lot of gigs with Cesca’s band Trout so I’ll still be playing, but this year I’ll be focusing on actually recording the gladness record that’s been written for almost three years now and I want to get it right. It’s called The Upside-Down Turnaround, it’s a whole concept thing based around Skeletor, or the actor that played Skeletor, in the afterlife and there’s a short novella that comes with it. Every time I talk about this, I sound like I’m mad because I’ve put so much time into it, but no one’s ever heard it so I’m ready for this thing to actually exist now. Planning on getting away and isolated with the band in August to get it recorded so that’ll be out next summer.
|| gladness ||