This piece was originally published on So So Gay on 1 August 2015.
It was back in the summer of 2012 when we first stumbled across the enchanting sounds of Ophelia Cache, the sweet-voiced Denver singer, when she released her assured debut EP, All Things Blue, which included the sublime ‘Do You Know’. During the interim there have been a couple of standalone singles, but now Cache is back with a brand new collection of songs and Elliot Robinson caught up with the artist to find out a little bit more about what to expect.
So So Gay: Starting with the basics – how are you and where are you right now?
Ophelia Cache: I’m doing well. Just posted this song so I’m a little anxious and excited to start trying to push it around. I’m in Williamsburg in Brooklyn right now.
Ah yes, ‘Vaccine’ – we’ll come to that in a mo. For those who haven’t heard your music before, how would you describe it?
One of my producers and I started to call it future blues… I would describe it as my best effort to deliver the blues to a modern day listener. It’s a classic melancholy vocal over modern hip-hop based instrumentation. It could also be described as trip-hop, I suppose… some people say it reminds them of that genre…
Your first EP, All Things Blue, certainly has melancholic moments, but also some optimistic ones. You seem a very bubbly person, would it be fair to say your music is a good outlet for dealing with and processing your more melancholic moments and emotions?
I would say that’s extremely accurate. I have always kind of kept my more sad moments or feelings to myself, even though I feel like they have been more present in my life than maybe the average person. But I never really saw a point of letting my emotions or darker feelings play out in front of people. Though I always played music from when I was young… and I was always drawn to minor keys and composers from the romantic period. I was able to express myself that way, you know? That has definitely translated to lyrics and beat selection.
There were some optimistic moments on All Things Blue and I think there will continue to be brief moments of optimism or light moments, or more fun moments… but also even more melancholy, even on different subjects beyond men and relationships… because, like I said before, I really want to be known as a great blues singer of this time in music.
Well, your material would certainly support that. Beyond your obviously personal stories about relationships, do you find yourself inspired by external influences – such as the news/politics, etc? Or perhaps observations from people watching?
Perhaps London is the closest parallel?
Yeah, true. London seems more civil, but maybe I don’t know it well enough. With people, I am always listening to them; I like to grab lyrics from an arguing couple on a corner or from a guy telling a funny story at a restaurant. I love listening for new slang and stuff like that, and I am definitely plugged into the news and especially American politics. I have a main future goal of using my voice to at least get people more knowledgeable about things that are happening in our country, but that’s not really my style to make a song about that per se. However, I do have a song coming up called ‘Money’ and it’s really a blues song about how I want to be a music success but it’s also a subliminal commentary about how everyone needs so much of it now to get anywhere, or do anything, or pursue any dream of any kind.
This is true – everything simultaneously costs more, but with the recent time of austerity there’s less of it about and also disposable income for people…
Indeed. Increasingly corrupt government systems and class-ism and so on… I could go on forever. Even to live normally costs so much; it’s hard to really pursue dreams and a life outside of plugging away for the man, you know? It’s hard for creatives and visionaries, and that’s my experience, but the average Joe as well is in a plight of not being able to enjoy life as much in whatever ways…. vacationing with family, and so on. It’s hard.
I’m not really a conscious artist like Common, or something… that’s definitely not my style, per se, but I try to sneak it in and explore where it fits into what I do. [pretends to light a joint, laughs]
Well, the problem with too much social commentary in music is that it can veer towards preachy – by its very nature, it makes listening to music a heavier experience.
Undoubtedly, like you find catharsis for your darker moments by writing, many listeners will find music a great mood enhancer; who needs to pop a pill when you can listen to the latest Britney album?
EXACTLY! I love techno, actually, but so many of the people are drugged up and I just wonder why it’s necessary to have all of that when the music definitely gets you there.
Oh, really? Who are you listening to right now then? Any recommendations?
Well, I think I know more DJs and the sound they deliver rather than songs, if that makes sense? It’s hard to keep up with that genre, though I like dancing techno and tech house. I should say I do like Boris, MK, Danny Tenaglia, John Digweed, and lots of others.
You being a closet techno-head is unexpected!
Sometimes you just need something to dance to, right?
I don’t know if I’m a true one or just a poser in that world because I’m not around it too often… but it’s by far my favorite thing to dance to – you can really practice. It offers you repetition so you can get it right.