Q&A with Broken English Club: “A sound that longs to be experienced and absorbed”. – Monument
Written by Radio 44 Ceylon on August 27, 2022
The ever so curious mindset of Oliver Ho, a.k.a. Broken English Club, portrayed another poetic adventure amidst the fog that slithers through the cracks of our era’s imbalance. That, of course, refers to his recent creation called The Artificial Animal. A full-length album that is guided by an agonizing externalization of primal, dark spells to confess a deep-rooted, personal state of being. Or, perhaps, trying to unearth it. Confident in the power of words and the primal nature of music, he approached, with a rather aggressive sense of beauty, a special balance of personal ideas. Those that, consequently, resonate with an unequaled composition level. Whether leaning towards something tangible or abstract, Oliver creates a sonic web that definitely requires a serious attention to comprehend. Despite, though, writing these from a listener’s perspective, there is still more to discover about himself and his new album in the following discussion.
When you started making electronic music in the mid 90’s you were producing a different sound than today. With Broken English Club you changed your style. What made you start anew?
To me the creation of BROKEN ENGLISH CLUB was not starting anew, but emphasising a continuation of my ideas and a consolidation of ideas. A lot of it was about stretching back into my past, when I was heavily into death metal and punk. More recently I have fallen back in love with heavy metal and punk, and BROKEN ENGLISH CLUB was a way of connecting a lot of these different ideas, and fusing them with more electronic sounds.
How did you come up with the idea of that name? Is it somehow connected to the genre you’re playing or even you?
The name is a kind of reference to the history of dark English electronic music and also dark English literature. Bands like Coil, TG and Psychic TV were a heavy influence on me. They referenced a lot of ideas about magick and alchemy.
Would you like to share some things about your creative process? From conceiving an idea to the final result.
Ideas slowly form from so many different things. Stuff like painting, photography, books and films, all influence me. I write a lot of things down, words and descriptions of feelings and almost abstract poetic stuff, too. I then slowly start creating very sparse atmospheres and collecting the right type of rhythm sounds. The process of creating music is very much like creating a visual collage. I piece music together slowly and wait for it to resonate. I want the music to speak to me, to come alive.
Do you follow a specific philosophical current? How does it help you when you enter productive mode?
I follow where my dreams want to take me. It’s about letting things guide me, rather than consciously plotting a route to where I want to go. A lot of music is about trying to create a place, a place that resonates with sound and types of energy
What makes you feel comfortable in what you do? In your life and in your music.
Finishing an artwork or piece of music makes me feel comfortable. The process is intense and full of exploration, but the end is very satisfying. I guess that is a kind of comfort.
How would you describe your comfort zone?
Comfort is something that I want an amount of, but too much is boring. The most productive state is where you’re pushing yourself into an area that’s slightly unknown. This stretches you and you become something new and vital in this state.
What does the word “boundary” feel like to you? Do you like overcoming them or setting them up?
Setting a frame or series of limits can sometimes be good for giving a strong signature to something. I find individual projects can benefit from a strong style idea or signature, but also the flow of an artist’s ideas, over a longer period of time, benefits from breaking of personal boundaries. This, results in breaking new ground. However, there’s been time for both these things in my creative life and they are both really important.
How would you say you’re improving yourself? What’s the role of music in that?
I’m moving forward and hopefully discovering things about myself and others. Music has always been a giant part of my life. Music is one of the most visceral art forms, it’s as important as religion for me or more. It’s one of the last accesses to spirit: A direct connection to our primitive, ancient primal selves.
Which other forms of art do you admire, that also play a critical part in your creativity?
Visual art, in particulate painting, is a huge part of my creative experience. The work of Julian Schnabel, Francis Bacon, Mark Rothko is all very powerful to me. I feel a lot of parallels with music. There is a search for a state of being with both, like trying to capture something infinite.
Which values do you hold tight since the beginning of your musical career? Do you feel they are challenged somehow over the years?
Most importantly it’s about keeping interested and passionate. Finding the things inside myself that make me tick, like a kind of creative internal archaeology.
Do you aim to explore something specific through what you do as Broken English Club?
It’s about finding a state of being. A place that exists somewhere out in the world, a broken dirty rotten place full of some kind of dark soul. But, it’s also an internal place, a place deep inside that comes to you in dreams.
As this album finds its place among a terrible situation in the world, did you feel a specific need to express something about what’s happening currently with it?
The album is about trying to make sense of the chaos in the world, putting it into a frame. And that chaos becomes almost beautiful to look at when it’s taken out of context. So it’s cathartic in that sense. A lot of my albums are about chaos and violence, but if I can express these things in a creative space, they can become poetic. And, there’s a kind of understanding of the things on a deeper level perhaps.
Your newest album explores “technology, reality, spirit and the self”. Are you expressing concerns or confidence about this? In your opinion, can these be combined?
It’s not really an issue of judgment whether something is good or bad. It’s more a desire to express and channel these things to gain a deeper understanding. To gain access to some place where these things can evolve or mutate. To become something that has its own energy and pulsates with life as an art form.
The release ends with the track “World on Fire”. Based on your views, experiences, even reality, is this a guess, a wish or something else?
It’s not as straightforward as a title being some kind of social comment, it’s a poetic thing. I love using words to create titles, the words are a kind of spell. You cast the spell and the music is summoned up from the depths.
For you, what’s the most special thing about this album and the time it was released?
The most special thing was the balance of ideas I think. There is a kind of fevered electronic overload feeling, which is present in a lot of the more abstract experimental tracks. Then, there is an opposite primal, earthy, rhythmic quality to some of the other tracks. So it’s this fusion and the two sided quality to the album I’m most pleased with.
Finally, is there a message you would like to share?
Messages are for politicians and advertising. My messages are in my music, waiting inside the sound that longs to be experienced and absorbed.
The Artificial Animal is available for purchase in digital format from Death & Leisure Bandcamp.