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June/July 2015

by Tim Hewitt

Fresh Talent: Othersun

by Tim Hewitt

Fresh Talent: Othersun

Caution, the uplifting music of Othersun may cause happiness. Formerly from the U.K, Josh Holmes has found new inspiration in New Zealand and he’’s not afraid to commit that zest to his music.

Fox, the first single from Othersun’’s forthcoming EP is replete with floating synth textures and minimal beats, underscored with weighty sub bass which is made complete by Holmes’’ distilled vocals, the sum evoking those elusive moments of beauty and mystery not often found in life. Never Alone is more pop-savvy and luminous, while his Soundcloud demo for Jesus and Peacock Feathers is ambient and textural.

Holmes explores his diverse sound creation and songwriting via the latest digital production techniques, however his origin in music is more earth bound. For the first 10 years of my life he didn’’t have a computer at his house and his musical genesis began in the real world, a sardine-packed room of “kids hitting xylophones, being loud”” during compulsory music class in England. He seized the opportunity to take music classes further when they became an option, the guitar being his instrument, a choice inspired by the innovative sonics of bands like U2 and producer Brian Eno.

In London he played in pop-punk bands, providing valuable live performance experience (now utilised in Othersun’’s engaging live show) and an understanding of the music scene at large, but during electronic music creation became a respite. While friends played video games Holmes gravitated towards computer music as his source of relaxation.

“Electronic production is instantly pleasing. In a band you play your one part back to yourself –– in electronic music you can play multiple parts and build on them – and then can just sit back and listen straight away… There is an aspect of being a composer, but instantly hearing what you’’ve created. You don’’t have to wait around for your whole band to get together.””

Needing a break from the hectic and competitive London music scene, he moved to Christchurch with his Kiwi girlfriend in late 2013.
“When we came to NZ it felt like the pressure suddenly lifted and writing music became easy again. I think you can easily get caught up trying to be someone important when you play music in London, which is what made me fed up. Whereas here it just feels natural and I’’m just doing it for the enjoyment of making music.””

He describes the sound of Othersun as his own twist of ambient electronic music, with micro samples of real instrumentation broken up so much you can’’t describe it as a real instrument.

“I’’ve always sampled stuff from the actual bodies of songs, that I’’ve previously written in a band situation. Like a guitar sound, but it might be stretched out so it doesn’’t sound like a guitar. You take it and reuse it and change it up until it’’s unrecognisable. I love the sound of reverb and the sound of delay, it gives you a floating feeling. Even if the bass drum is really aggressive, the reverb gives the sound a lift, like it’s hovering above, and makes it sound separate.””

Fox was actually the first Othersun song he finished, and more tracks are currently being mastered in London with a full Othersun EP planned for later in the year.