The Oscillation formed in London in 2006. The band released their third record “From Tomorrow” on French label Hands in the Dark in 2013. Our friend Ryan Muldoon at Revolt of the Apes has compiled a list of 10 questions for The Oscillation’s founding member Demian Castellanos in anticipation of their APF 2014 performance.
One needn’t look too far to find reference to and understand the impact of low-frequency oscillations on even the broadest definition of psychedelic music. What does the name â€œThe Oscillationâ€ mean to you, from a musical perspective?
In the “Official Pleiadian College Dictionary for Earth Visitors” it says: “Cyclical emotions caught up within waves of repetition and undulating feelings, that cause the mind to wander freely within a musical landscape, thus achieving some form of sonic and spiritual liberation outside of the physical world and the limitations of being human” so I took it directly from that.
What energy or inspiration do you feel you draw from other musicians? How do you feel that energy is transferred to the recordings of The Oscillation? Can you cite any specific experience in which a collaborative musical effort influenced your approach to music you made in the future?
I guess you end up taking something from everything you listen to whether consciously or unconsciously. There’s so many bands or artists that I look up to and speaking for myself you just hear all these amazing other records or players and take as much as you can from it and try to consolidate it all somehow.. I would never expect to be on the same level as most of the artists I love but that’s the big part of making music, having something to aspire to even if you never achieve it. I think you can feel when someone is channeling sound or emotions that resonate with you and once that happens it’s inevitable that it will influence you. I was always learning different instruments but I didn’t really know how to cohere it until I’d built up some kind of palate of influences to draw from. I was learning saxophone for a while at school and I was pretty bad at it but I persevered for a few years. My teacher was really into jazz and was trying to get me into improvisation. Sometimes a whole lesson would just be him playing piano on some repeated chord progression and encourage me to play over it. Even though at the time I didn’t really click with it, I’m sure that it must have filtered through when it came to composition later on and how to interact playing live with other musicians. In a way that was quite a big deal in retrospect, being pushed to improvise and come up with my own ideas. He must have had a lot of patience or had earplugs in ha ha..
Sonically, we find that much of â€œFrom Tomorrow,â€ your latest album, evokes the feeling of confronting some dark and perhaps unknowable things. Was there a conscious theme in mind when recording â€œFrom Tomorrowâ€? How likely are you to revisit â€œAncient From Tomorrowâ€ after its been finished and released into our world?
I dunno if there was any intentional theme in mind from the outset but one reoccurring feeling that started to come up was one of urban oblivion, loneliness and isolation in a bland concrete reality. Maybe that’s why the album sounds so happy and euphoric. It was around the time of the Olympics in London and a lot of construction and modernisation of the areas around where I live. There was this excitement being whipped up in the press about the Olympic games and what great times for the economy it was, but to me it just felt like something from Carpenter’s “They Live” movie, you know like ‘obey’, ‘consume’, ‘switch off’. I don’t know if it caused me to go into a big depression or if it just happened alongside it to complement some kind of apocalyptic fantasy I was having to make that point.
Having said that it wasn’t all depression because there was also this wonderful surreal feeling and some beautiful sunsets that I remember at the time and you can enjoy that kind of expression where you try not to filter things out too much along the way. If we are all still here one thousand years ago I see no reason as to why it shouldn’t be revisited, it could make for an interesting theme park so perhaps that will inspire a sequel, or prequel if I understand your question correctly.
On RevoltoftheApes.com I described the â€œFrom Tomorrowâ€ as a â€œperfectly balanced, forty-minute trip that has achieved the mythical level of masterpiece in our heads.â€ Can you think of any album in particular that holds a mythic stature in your mind? What is it about this album that you find so compelling?
Yeah I read that.. thanks! There’s lots of record that have a mythic stature for me.. “Pornography” by The Cure would be up there and springs to mind pretty quickly. It’s pretty amazing how fearless Robert Smith was in his songwriting. After “Faith” which is already massively bleak, “Pornography” kept that but added a massive amount of lysergic anger and viciousness. I still find it quite a hard album to listen to, but it’s really invigorating in its self loathing and the sound of it is just incredible, perfectly matching the emotions and lyrics within it. I love all the backwards guitars and pianos and pitch-shift delay on the vocals, it sounds immense.
Is there either a distinct moment, experience or series of events that you recall as helping you trust your instincts in creating music? How has the creativity you’ve encountered within your musical path impacted your life outside of creating or performing music? As you’ve grown older and engaged in more musical experiences, how do you think that nature of your creativity has evolved?
The decision to learn the guitar was what triggered me wanting to do music more properly. I remember having quite mixed emotions, one of real excitement and another of seeing a long weird road stretching out into an unknown destination. Almost on day one of picking it up, I knew that I would make an album eventually but that I would have to work really hard on it, and I still do. I’m not sure how it’s evolving, I don’t even know if I could say I really trust my instincts even now, other than I have the desire to do it and I know that I can’t be complacent. I’ve had quite a one-track mind about music so maybe I’m lacking in some other skills in life like the ability to do a “proper job” but the main thing I get from music is that the obsession to do it has really saved me a lot of times or kept me on track rather than derailing. The main thing for me is to feel that there is some kind of progression musically so it’s nice to have that as a goal.
Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that I am attempting toÂ start right now) that your next recording will be a collection of Bruce Springsteen covers,Â entitled â€œThe Boss-illationâ€?
Yeah I’d love to comment on this in a lot of detail. I can say that there will be a trilogy of albums hopefully with some involvement from Bruce himself. I’ve sent a few emails to his management, but haven’t heard anything back yet. I can only assume that he’s working on some ideas and is wary of sending them over until they are to a very high standard. Anyway the first album will be under the name of “The Foss-illation”, as you have correctly deduced, which requires discovering a pre-historic consciousness and morphing into a fossil (a fossil that was formed or “born” in the U.S.A). Obviously in this state it will be hard to play any instruments so it’s more of a concept album, but a powerful statement all the same. Part II will be the Springsteen covers you just mentioned, depending on the ability to revert back to a human state before recording commences. Part III will depend on the success of “The Boss-illation” but there will be huge backing from literally all of the major labels, all working in tandem to ensure it achieves worldwide market saturation point.
What music have you been listening to lately? Do you have any recommendations for us from the London scene or beyond? If push comes to shove, what’s yourÂ favorite Pink Floyd album of all time and why?
Chrome have recently put out a new album of unreleased tracks that I’ve been listening to a lot, along with The Deviants. For the first time in quite a while there’s a few new records that I’m really into.. The new Night Beats album, White Manna, and Disappears’ “Era” is really great too, quite a unique sound. There’s a London band that are gaining quite a lot of deserved attention called Fat White Family who are worth checking out.
How did you first hear of Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands you’re lookingÂ forward to seeing while you’re in attendance? What are you memories of the mostÂ recent Liverpool Psych Fest?
I’ve been aware of it from the first one I think and always been impressed by the line-up and it’s been interesting to see it grow. I’ll hope to catch Loop again while we’re there, and I just noticed Golden Dawn are playing which would be amazing. Also Acid Mother’s Temple, Zombie Zombie and Night Beats. I’m sure there’ll be lots of great surprises too. Liverpool was quite funny because I was really nervous as it was our first gig in over half a year.. It was quite a blur of manic energy. We just kind of got there played and left as our friend who was driving us had to be back in London almost immediately. There was a really good atmosphere to the whole thing which you could sense in everyone there.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn â€“ whose collection of rare, Soviet-era psych records weÂ imagine to be immense â€“ wrote the following:Â
â€œGradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes notÂ through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but rightÂ through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us,Â it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one smallÂ bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … anÂ un-uprooted small corner of evil. Since then I have come to understand the truth ofÂ all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (insideÂ every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it isÂ possible to constrict it within each person.â€
Sounds about right to me! Maybe you should get him to do a DJ set? I can imagine him rocking out some socialist-house music somewhere on a beach in Ibiza, based on this excerpt.
What’s next for The Oscillation?
We’ve nearly finished the video for the track “From Tomorrow” which Julian is working his magic on and will be out in january, and a new e.p in a few months. Of course we’re all very excited about coming to Austin Psych Fest, and doing some shows in the U.S around that too.
Catch The Oscillation at APF 2014 May 2 – 4. Tickets and camping passes are available for purchase HERE.