Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An interview with Roland Oberheim

Roland Oberheim is a quiet chap and slow at releasing albums. His only release to date "Zen and the Art of Hard Disc Recording" was recorded in the year 2000 and left on a hard drive only to be rediscovered 11 years later!
by Sam Davis

Who is Roland Obeheim?
I am Roland Oberheim (Ross Healy)

Why the artist name Roland Oberheim?
Some of my favourite synths have been from Roland, the Jupiter 6, 8, SH101 etc and with Oberheim it was the OBXA, Xpander etc. Also it made an interesting artist name. I could imagine a kid who was totally into synths. I also chose the name because whilst I have been focusing on the Cray name and style, at the time the Zen album was too different so Roland Oberheim was born.

Did you use Roand or Oberheim synths on the Zen release?
It was all done on a Pentium 1 probably running Windows 98 or even Windows ME back in the day. I mainly used Soundforge and Fruity Loops and cut everything up in SoundForge. I totally loved SoundForge. You must remember at the time SoundForge and hard disc recording was fairly new. I had sold my Atari 1040ste and bought the Pentium. I soon discovered that the Pentium had absolutely terrible MIDI timing and as I was getting fed up programming beats I decided to do an album where everything was in its own time and space. The only synth I had with me then was a Kurzweil K2600R and that was only ever used sparingly.

How long did it take you to complete the album?
I would start at 9am and work through until 9pm most days, so about 30 days. This was all recorded and cut up in SoundForge, each individual kick and snare, hihat and clap was taken from 1 loop I created and then madly edited each individual sound. It was closer to editing tape than anything.

I can hear room acoustics as well as electronic sounds. What recording devices did you use?
You should be able to hear my squeaky chair and the shower recorded through a wall, the odd breath etc I used a cheap computer mic that came for free with the computer.

What other names have you recorded under?
Amnesia was my dance music name. I released "A Brief History of Amnesia 2056 - 2068" album It was leftfield breakbeat and techno. I also release a leftfield drum n bass e.p in the UK called "Red Tank". Horaku was the name I used as a one off on a compilation, that was an experimental drum n bass track. This was all about 1995 - 1998. I never released a beat album after that as I felt I had gone as far as I could with dance music. I have used about 10 different artist names since 1993.

Why all the different artist names?
I am an electronic musician. Electronic music and the instruments allow me to be anything I want to be in sound. There is nothing worse than being considered a "boxed sound, i.e house, jungle, funk etc" In the old days when synths and computers were not around I can understand a band being one style for comercial reasons and also lack of interest in anything outside what they know but that just doesnt equate when you are an electronic musician living in the world now. I have no obligation other than to myself musically. I do understand that by using so many different names it is hard for people to latch onto me but to me music is all about searching for something new. Saying that I really have decided to only use the name Cray pretty much since the year 2000.

What is it about electronic music you love?
I really love the fact that electronic music has given the individual the power to create their own music without having to resort to a band scenario. Also electronic music is about the pushing of boundaries in composition and sound, it really is our imagination in an audible form.  I find nothing more boring that a straight 4 on the floor beat. I can appreciate it in the context of a recording but I feel that most people are cheating themselves by not pushing the boundaries of composition.

Will there be any further Roland Oberheim releases?
I have no plans on doing anymore R.O. releases I would like to work with Ryou Oonishi though:-) 

Roland Oberheim's Zen and the Art of Hard Disc Recording is available for free or donation on VICMOD Records.

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