Lifting the veil from Brussels' latest pop-synth enigma
Born in France, Ouri is an electronic music producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist based in Montreal. She was just a kid when she took her first steps in music, studying the piano, the harp and the cello, which became her preferred instruments. She’s come a long way since the conservatory, now producing sensual electronic music blending classical and avant-garde, warm and cold, pop and underground. Her new EP, We Share our Blood, was released in late September last year. In this project, unlike her previous collaboration with Mind Bath, she uses her own voice on top of much darker beats. With influences ranging from trip-hop to techno and slow breakbeats, Ouri showcases an exceptionally wide variety. We talked influences, Montreal and identity so you can get to know her a bit before her performance on 16 February at AB for the second half of our seventh b-day bash.
Interview by Souria Cheurfi
Photos shot by Fatine-Violette Sabiri in Montreal, Canada
I found it hard having to follow all those rules at the conservatory while I believe music is about expressing yourself, that’s exactly what makes it powerful
How do you think your classical music background influences your music today?
I don’t know if I follow any of the classical rules I learnt, but there are some tools I can decide to make use of. I’m working on a lot of different musical projects and I have to adapt every time. To be fair, I found it hard having to follow all those rules at the conservatory while I believe music is about expressing yourself, and that’s exactly what makes it powerful.
What are you willing to share with the audience with your music?
I want my music to be a subtle, liberating experience. I believe there’s definitely something very emotional about what I’m trying to convey. That said, I don’t believe in the concept of identity anymore so I’m simply sharing my own experience through music. So many things influence us, without us even realising. I think defining identity can be superficial and not always pertinent. It’s just a bunch of things, an endless accumulation of impressions from society and what surrounds us. I listen to a lot of different things and I don’t only focus on the style, the aesthetics or the artist. I had a lot of trouble finding my own place in this world and I feel like sometimes words fail to express things reliably. Music does.
Defining identity can be superficial and not always pertinent
You once said in an interview that you wanted to build bridges between pop and underground music…
There’s a lot of things I don’t hear, so I want to make them. There’s definitely more bridges between the mainstream and the underground than there used to be, but mainstream audiences are accustomed to very fixed tempos, structures and sounds. I think it would be nice to have a few more options. I remember pop music a few years ago wasn’t that strict, rigid and ‘perfect’; it was freer. Music needs freedom. It’s nice to reach for perfection but sometimes it feels a bit unhuman. We should be proud of our humanness.
You were born in France and moved to Montreal when you were 16. How do you think the city influenced your music?
I feel like Montreal gives you more access to experimentation. There’s a huge concentration of artists. It’s very open-minded and free; you can really find yourself without having to follow some sort of way of thinking or rules to make music, compared to France where I feel like there’s much more pressure. That said, although I used to love the winter here in the first place, I came to realise how much loneliness and depression it causes to the city.
So the seasons truly have an impact on the city’s creativity… Then Montreal must be blooming in spring?
Montreal in the summer and Montreal in the winter are two extremes. It’s like a bipolar city. During winter, you can really find the time to get into your own pain and transform it into your art, but I’d love to experience something a bit more stable. Then when spring comes back, everyone becomes crazy energetic. It’s really something!
Every time I’m inspired by someone it’s because they let out their true self so I’m just going to do the same while hoping to inspire others
You released We share our blood in September. What’s the story behind this EP and its title?
I was at a point of my life where I needed to start a new life, have some space and intimacy. I needed to regain the confidence I’d been losing. And at the same time, I was trying to dedramatise these human experiences and instead, focus on a general blood-sharing that happens all over world, be it love or hate.
But your EP does have a more dramatic vibe than your previous project with Mind Bath. Is it a direction you’re consciously taking?
Yes, I love to play with the dichotomy between the title and the music! There are times where I want to play light music to feed people with uplifting vibes and positivity, but it’s also nice to recognise vulnerability and sensitivity and express those feelings so people can embrace them and accept themselves. So I should keep doing both.
So you keep in mind what people will feel while producing music?
I want to bring something out of them, although they won’t always be open to it. I’ve been trying to hide my true self my entire life, but it’s simply impossible. I realised every time I’m inspired by someone it’s because they let out their true self so I’m just going to do the same while hoping to inspire others.
7 years Subbacultcha: Ouri
16 Feb – AB, Brussels
20.00 – €12 – free for members