Victor Joohoon Ha known as Öspiel is a French sound artist and composer of South Korean origin. He lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. His works take forms such as sound piece, soundtrack for multimedia project and concert. Through sound from audio synthesis, field recording and sound design, Öspiel explores different sonic properties in his compositions such as materiality, dynamic, movement and metaphor. His style is an oscillation between industrial techno and electroacoustic music that results in raw, powerful and poetic pieces.
You perform in the electronic music world, however have you always been interested in this music? For how long have you been active as a DJ and producer ?
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a guitar hero. I got an electric guitar and the book “Guitar for Dummies” … thanks big brother. It wasn’t a success and I completely gave up. It was at the age of 15 that I decided to start making electronic music after meeting the guys from Mode-F who introduced me to music production. It’s a team of 3 composers working mainly on soundtracks for fashion shows. Thanks to them, I realized how intuitive it is and that producing electronic music doesn’t necessarily require years of study at the conservatory or a fucking book for dummies (it can help a lot though) and I started to learn by myself. After a few years of training, I think I started music in a more serious way about 5 years ago.
How would you describe « your » sound and what are your main influences ?
Something like electroacoustic industrial cinematic sci-fi techno would be a all in one answer I guess.
I think I’ve been very influenced by electroacoustic music and more precisely acousmatic music (formerly known as concrete music). It’s a style that I appreciate for the great attention paid to the sound matter itself and which has been very theorized by its composers. By caricaturing a bit, it is an ideal style for those who appreciate Ligeti as much as the sound of a toilet vent for example (the best I listened to was in Osaka in the toilets of a kombini, I stayed there 10 minutes on purpose). Musicality is omnipresent if you take the time to listen and every sound can be interesting to use if you use it and put it in the right context. This is a philosophy that I respect. I invite you to listen to the works of Luc Ferrarri, Jonty Harrison and Philippe Mion to name a few composers.
You are living in Brussels and you are a member of Sub:version collective as resident dj and A&R. Can you tell us more about your implication in the Brussels electronic music scene ?
We have several goals with Sub:version. One is obviously to make the nightlife more attractive, more dynamic by organizing events and inviting international and local techno artists. Another one is to propose a gender equity in our line-ups. Another one is to offer an audiovisual experience to the audience, allowing us to highlight different visual mediums such as light, video, visual coding. And then of course we have to think about having fun in all that.
To be honest, my implication in the Brussels scene is very brief at the moment. After a first event in January with Endlec, Nene H, Minopolska and myself which was a success, our second event on April 10th with Mama Snake, Sugar and Viscerale was cancelled due to covid-19. While waiting for the Belgian government to finally act to support the cultural sector of the night, we are on stand-by and wholeheartedly support all the actors of the night who are under threat.
While waiting for the Belgian government to finally act to support the cultural sector of the night, we are on stand-by and wholeheartedly support all the actors of the night who are under threat.
You are also a member of Oecus, a Berlin agency and label. What’s the story behind your collaboration?
I’ve got a good relationship with the collective and label Vast Perception in Istanbul with whom I released a track for their first release. It’s thanks to them that Oecus discovered my work and offered me the chance to join them.
You are working on different projets like Inglorious Fortune, Hurle Moi Le Silence and more. Can you tell us more about these projects ?
When I arrived in Brussels 3 years ago, I decided to focus less on techno because I wanted to invest myself in more artistic projects, to explore and test my abilities and aesthetics. From there, several collaborations were born which brought me a lot, Inglorious Fortune and Hurle moi le silence are two examples.
Inglorious Fortune is a collaboration with the contemporary dancer Dunya Narli whom I met in Spain during a tour with the company ROPA for whom I did sound conducting. Dunya who is very talented asked me for a soundtrack for a dance solo project and I accepted without hesitation. Dance and especially the body is a medium that I love.
Hurle moi le silence is an audiovisual collaboration with video artist Indira Colin and poet Charlotte Demarquet. It is an experimental film about different manifestations of the unconscious (impulse, psychosis, dream).
You released tracks on different labels, including Oecus, Grounded or Trahace. Can you tell us a bit about your process of producing, do you use software, hardware or both? And what do you often do to get inspired ?
I use microphones and hardware or software synthesizers to record sound materials that I then transform on software. I work a lot with field recording, sampling, distortion and wavetable synthesis. I also use instrument and tools patches on Max that I haven’t mastered yet but which is absolutely fabulous. This software requires a huge amount of computer music and sound engineering skills but the results are great. You can do everything with it.
I don’t do anything in particular to be inspired, there are periods like this one during which I totally lack of inspiration and creativity, so I take the opportunity to do mostly sound design… or nothing. Then all of a sudden something happens that reverses the situation and I’m just working in the studio almost non stop.
Are there any pieces of gear or software that you couldn’t do without?
There’s an incredible and cheap synthesizer, completely forgotten, whose name I’m going to reveal is … no sorry I’m kidding, I would say it’s simply Ableton. Otherwise it used to be my Zoom H5 but I haven’t used it much for a few months now. Now I have a pair of Line Audio CM4, it’s a cheap hand made Swedish microphone with a super flat response curve. I’ve heard that some people compare it to Schoeps on the web. Always cool to hear that when you have a pair but I don’t know if this information is trustable.
It seems you play live acts and hybrid set. Between live and dj sets, which do you prefer? And what about hybrid set ?
I prefer live sets because I’m more comfortable with it. I’ve always been more interested in producing than djing, so I’ve never invested in dj equipment. That’s not the case anymore and I would love to have turntables but I’m sure I’ll crack and buy an effect rack or a modular synthesizer module instead when I’d finally have the money for. So I’ve done very few dj sets in my life and when I did, it was on Ableton.
About hybrid set, I loop and filter tracks I like and play them with my own sounds just like live. It allows me to have for example a vocal, a rhythmic base, a synthesizer. Doing hybrid set is very pleasant when I mix a loop from KRTM or Ansome with my sounds, it always sounds better. Let’s say that it’s my dirty little pleasure.
In these strange days with Covid-19 virus and quarantine, do you feel you are more motivated and inspired, or less?
It’s a pretty difficult period for me and like everyone else I guess. I have artistic projects and dates that have been cancelled and I find myself with nothing. So motivation is not really what drives me the most at the moment I would say. But I take advantage of it to compose music.
What’s coming next for you in summer and autumn, any plans, releases or exciting projects you’d love to mention?
My first EP on vinyl will be released in September normally by Demian records based in Paris. Other tracks will be released on other labels in VA and I’m currently working on a new solo EP.
I will also start a new music project with a friend, the idea is to do trap and techno with satyric lyrics in Russian. We’ll see if it’s interesting enough to release, we just want to have fun on our own.