OU – The most brilliant and great musical kaleidoscope

The enigmatic progressive metal/djent ensemble OU continues to captivate audiences with its profound lyrics and kaleidoscopic musical compositions. In celebration of their second full-length album, “II – 蘇醒 Frailty”, Femme Metal Webzine talked with the visionary behind the project, Anthony Vanacore, to delve into the intricacies of this remarkable release, now available through InsideOut Music.
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The enigmatic progressive metal/djent ensemble OU continues to captivate audiences with its profound lyrics and kaleidoscopic musical compositions. In celebration of their second full-length album, “II – 蘇醒 Frailty”, Femme Metal Webzine talked with the visionary behind the project, Anthony Vanacore, to delve into the intricacies of this remarkable release, now available through InsideOut Music.

OU promo photo by Zhang Xin 張歆
Photo by Zhang Xin 張歆

Getting together

Hi Anthony, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. Thank you for taking the time to check out this interview. How are you?

    Hi there! Thank you for reaching out to us, I’m doing well, thanks for asking.

    Today we are here for OU’s upcoming second full-length “蘇醒 II: Frailty”—first, my heartfelt congratulations on the album. I love it. Secondly, would you like to recall how OU came together?

    Thank you! We are so happy you like the album! A lot of work and time went into making this album. The band the four of us came together around the fall of 2019, after we finished doing some demos of the first album with Lynn. I’ve known Jing and Chris for a long time and they first laid down tracks for some of the songs I had written from the first album. Afterward, I wrote melody lines on top of the instrumental parts via MIDI form.

    OU self-titled video (if not accessible click here)

    Meeting Lynn and setting up OU

    A former student of mine put me in contact with Lynn, and she was the first singer to come in, we got fortunate. She interpreted the tracks in ways I never imagined, I was blown away. Shortly thereafter we asked her to join the band and we completed recording the first four songs from the first album with vocals and lyrics.

    The outcome was beyond our expectations and I thought this was too special just to make an EP or demo, so we decided to make an album. Because of the pandemic things were a little bit delayed, but we finished everything I believe in the spring of 2020. Later I sent everything to my friend and great mixing engineer/producer Chris Badami, and he mixed the record and co-produced it with me.

    Signing to Inside Out Music

    It was finished by early 2021 and I sent it to some record labels including Inside Out Music, and we were fortunate to sign to them later that year. The first album was released in May of 2022. This whole process solidified OU becoming a band. We are about to release our second record mixed and co-produced by the amazing Devin Townsend on April 26th of this year.

    OU promo photo by Zhang Xin 張歆
    Photo by Zhang Xin 張歆

    My first curiosity is related to Lynn Wu’s mesmerizing vocals. What can you tell me about her professional background as a singer? Where has she learned to mold her vocals in such an expressive manner?

    I suppose Lynn comes from more of a pop background but not entirely that either. I think a lot of her approach just comes from instinct. Her interpretation of the melodies and feelings fits perfectly for OU. I believe she is mostly self-taught.

    The musical structure of OU

    The second curiosity lies in the musical structure of OU’s songs. Considering the layers herein present, how and in which manner does the basic melody or idea get then enriched with the sonic layers? For example in the song “海 Ocean”.

    I would say the vocal melodies are the prime driving force behind OU. Even if you took all the instrumental tracks away, I feel like the songs would all stand on their own still. Harmony is another driving force, there are a lot of vocal harmonies as well. Most of the harmonies come from a more contrapuntal feeling rather than a functional one.

    In many instances, different melodic lines are moving together but in different rhythms, like in the song “Ocean”, for example. The verses are driven by counterpoint, which I became obsessed with years ago when I was first exposed to it. Structure-wise a lot of the songs are basic song structures, verse, chorus, bridge, etc. I feel like the song structures are pretty clear in most of the songs.

    “Reborn” video clip (if not accessible click here)

    I know that Lynn is the author behind OU’s lyrics. Would like to provide more details about the lyrics of “蘇醒 II: Frailty”?

    Yes, Lynn writes all the lyrics, I think there are a lot of themes centered around ideas and concepts that can be found in Buddhism, but I won’t speak for her. There will be English translations for all the lyrics so everyone will have a chance to interpret the lyrics for themselves : )

    OU working together with Devin Townsend

    “蘇醒 II: Frailty” sees the collaboration of Devin Townsend as a producer. How was collaborating with him? And which is the most important lesson learned during this experience?

    It was an honor to work with Devin. First of all, he’s one of the sweetest guys I’ve met. Secondly, he’s an absolute monster when it comes to mixing and producing. Watching him work in real time was an eye-opener for sure, the speed and precision in which he works is incredible and inspiring. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that I have a long way to go.

    OU promo photo by Zhang Xin 張歆
    Photo by Zhang Xin 張歆

    To my knowledge, OU has never played live. Once considering how much layered is OU’s music, how challenging would be to propose “蘇醒 II: Frailty” live?

    It will be very challenging because there are a lot of vocal harmonies that unless we can bring a mini choir will have to be reproduced in backing tracks. There are also lots of synths that will have to be in programmed tracks unless we decide to add someone to the band for a live performance. But all these challenges can be overcome.

    And regarding a possible chance of touring live, have you ever considered that? What are your next plans?

    Yes, we of course want to play live. We are currently in the process of figuring that out.

    “Purge” video clip (if not accessible click here)

    So, Anthony, we’re almost at the end. Please be free to say hi to your fans and readers. Thank you so much for this interview.

    Thanks so much for reaching out to us!! Thank you to everyone who supports OU! It is only with your support that we can push forward as a band, and we hope to see you at performances in the future!

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