Oh No Ono: interview

Danish new-wave-ish funk-poppers Oh No Ono, apart from having an awesome name and skewed sense of humour, deal in damnably catchy leftfield tunes which, in another dimension, consistently top the bizarro-charts. Their debut album, ’Yes‘, is released on January 14 on Morningside

  • Oh No Ono: interview

    Ono homage that terrible Dr Who episode with the dummies... you know the one

  • Although they don’t really profess to have many feelings one way or the other about Yoko Ono, the band have been inextricably drawn into her orbit.

    ‘There’s a children’s book called “Oh No, Ono!”,’ says bassist Nis Svoldgaard. ‘But we weren’t aware of that. We were just trying to come up with a snappy name for a band, and "Oh No Ono" is easy to remember. Actually, it started out as "Oh No Oh No", but it just came naturally to change it to the Japanese Ono. We met her actually, the last time we were in London. We’ve been part of that Make Some Noise thing that Amnesty has been doing, and she was doing that as well. So we were at this big reception and we talked to her. She was nice. We have nothing against her. The title of our album comes from the exhibition where John Lennon met her – he liked the fact that it was a warm message and we liked that too. Actually, we recently found out that on one of the demo outtakes from the ‘White Album’, John Lennon actually sings “Oh no, Ono”, the same way we’re spelled!’

    The band play a brash, plastic retro-futurist kind of new-wave pop which recalls XTC, Talking Heads and bits of Bowie.

    ‘Yeah… that’s what we try to do. It’s the kind of postmodern thought of making music. Mixing all your inspirational sources and hopefully coming up with something that is indeed futuristic and interesting and new. We’re trying to mix it with as many sources as possible, so people won’t recognise it as being retro, but of course it is anyway, I can understand that people say that. But it’s a new take on things. I don’t think there’s anybody out there who does it quite like us.’

    Although the irresistible hooks and chirps choruses make it all seem like sunshiny harmonic pop at first listen, dig a little deeper into the songs and you realise ONO tunes are actually quite disturbingly off-kilter.

    ‘Yeah, that’s what we want people to do! That’s our evil plan! It is quite complex and layered, but at the same time it’s also pop dance music. That’s what we attempted to do from the beginning – this album was our attempt to make pop music.’

    Although the album is only released in the UK this week, the band have already progressed from this sound.

    ‘The album’s been out since 2006 in Denmark, so it’s kind of old for us. We’re having a meeting today about the new record. We’ve been making a lot of songs recently. We’ve moved on because we don’t want to repeat ourselves – I think that would be boring, so we’ve tried to deconstruct ourselves and build it up again. Right now we’re listening to a lot of things like Panda Bear and Caribou and a lot of ’60s psychedelic music. This time I think we’re going to have a try at making LSD pop instead of space pop! Ha ha!’

    ONO are heading over to London in April – make sure you check them out, even if you think the album is self-indulgent rubbish.

    ‘We’ve been told that a lot of people who don’t really get us on record seem to like it more when we play live. If you don’t listen into our music you can quite easily view it as something that is just quite simple pop music, but live it’s more energetic. We try to use more distortion and we jam a bit more. The weird thing is we’ve been playing those songs for so long we can improvise more, we don’t feel bound into any particular patterns or anything, so we can just do whatever and still keep the main core of the song. If you could call the record being cold and sterile – in a good way – the live shows are more warm. Warm and red instead of blue and cold.’

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