Music

Profile: Oh Pep!

31 October 2012

In Melbourne, there are about as many bands swindling for a break as there are cigarette butts stamped out along the steps of Flinders Street station. To find the proverbial shining treasure among the trash or the sharpest needle among the haystack requires quite simply a huge-ass rake of some description. On-the-brink folk band Oh Pep! are one of the genuine many that are shining through and being combed into the quaint yet grungy alleyways of Melbourne CBD.

Hailing from the revered pillars of VCA, a creative hub that elicits a few envious sighs from those studying on the other side of town, Oh Pep! is seemingly marking a prevalent trend—the so-called VCA ‘thing’, a music-student-collaboration phenomenon exponentially growing at the Southbank campus. Original members Olivia Halley (Oh) and Pepita Emmerichs (Pep) are both VCA secondary school graduates now studying classical guitar and violin respectivel. Oh Pep! as an artistic unit is both a devoted student and fighting rebel against VCA’s teachings.

With the band inclined to the more innate liberation of folk music and its “strong story-telling element”, Olivia (Liv) admits to the perverse redirection of passions that the formal education of the VCA provided. Where, going against the grain of jazz and classical music primarily taught, Liv discovered a fellow compatriot of pop in Pepi; “It was nice to meet someone like-minded like that…who had grown-up listening to the same stuff…[who] went to the same gigs.”

However, the VCA as an educational institution cannot be lightly shrugged off; its weighty hand of fate having ultimately defined the style, ethos and “concrete” creation of the band, for as Liv admits, “if we hadn’t gone to VCA…we [Liv and Pepi] wouldn’t be playing with the calibre of musicians that we have picked up along the way.”

Having recently won a song-writing competition through Maldon Folk Festival, Oh Pep! continue to push their boundaries and are willing to redefine themselves within the greater context of Victorian music. Their recognition at the festival marking a turning point in their direction as a band, Olivia explained that such an opportunity is a “foot in the door to the folk circuit”. The environment of such a festival, beneficial and unique to burgeoning artists such as themselves where musicians are free to experiment within a “welcoming” community.

Despite, any laid-back attitude conveyed by Liv, the drive and passion of Oh Pep! is unprecedented especially in relation to the energy and determination spent on the their self-titled EP: “We’ll come up with ideas separately or collaborate…sometimes when I have an idea I’ll just waffle into my IPhone recorder for five minutes.”

Having balanced a good work ethic with artistic nuance and feel, the production of Oh Pep!’s EP reflects a transparency and lack of pretension, the band mates having decided to record everything live opting for a truer sound and energy over an immaculately finished or sterile product so –to-speak.

With their EP being launched this up-coming Thursday (6 September) Oh Pep! are looking forward to really branding themselves into Melbourne’s music scene, of course on their own terms. Having found a stimulating band dynamic with the inclusion of another “three amazing players”, Liv and Pepi along with others have paid their dues. Having undertaken all managerial duties on top of university studies throughout the “really long process” of forging a band and creating a debut EP, Oh Pep! continue to take it in their stride, seeing only good things ahead: “It’s [been] a massive learning curve for us, but that’s what we need[ed] to do.”

See Oh Pep! launch their self-titled debut album at the Toff in Town on Thursday 6 September at 8pm.


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