interview: chris steele-nicholson of oh minnows

so, after having been part of the indie-cult band semifinalists, multi-instrumentalist chris steele-nicholson decided to strike out on his own. “Semifinalists was a collective effort, and it was great fun,” he says. “You’d get an idea going then someone would step in and take it in a direction you didn’t expect. It was like being in control and having no control at the same time. Oh Minnows is just me having to confront my views on my own.”

with oh minnows, he’s created a series of laid back songs that mix near-ethereal vocals with dreamy synths and mellow beats. while he already released an EP back in 2009, chris is getting ready to release an LP this summer of songs he’s been working on since then.

chris recently answered a few questions for me about this latest musical endeavor:

have you met heather: how did oh minnows come about? where did the name come from?

chris steele-nicholson: I like the way minnows have worked things out. I find majesty in examples of a collective working to achieve a common interest. They owe everything to each other and they exist sharing some kind of collective awareness. I think people are much the same and operate most efficiently when they work together in a way that focuses attention on each other. This way everyone wins because you get your needs met and get the satisfaction of giving to others. The idea of individualism feels odd to me. Every society must decide which human instincts or tendencies they would like to exalt and which they would like to downplay and in the U.S. at the moment the concept of what we owe each other is being hotly contested. I think the idea of individualism is a sad one that ultimately isolates people to various degrees. I say all this because I think we owe each other everything.

hymh: you’ve got a new album coming out this year. what was the process like to create for shadows?

chris: I recorded tracks in a warehouse in Chicago then after a while I went out to San Francisco to work with a friend who is a mixer and engineer. Things wrapped up in North Carolina where we were working on a film.

hymh: if you could sum up your music in five words, what would they be?

chris: Five? Why five? Funny you say five though, cause I was just hearing about this nutritionist who was saying if there were more then five ingredients in whatever you were eating then it wasn’t healthy. In response, haagen dazs came out with an ice cream called “haagen dazs 5” meaning they had complied to the new rule of five.

But sum it up in five words? Don’t mean to be difficult, but it would be upsetting for me if I could.

hymh: any plans to tour this year?

chris: That would be great, but there are no plans as of yet…

thanks, chris!

have a listen to/download the woozy, synth-heavy you’ll never know us, which will be on for shadows:

Oh Minnows – You’ll Never Know Us (free download) by Stayloose

for shadows will be released on july 25th by young and lost club – it’ll be their first full length LP. go HERE to learn more about the album.

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