Ouisa Hound


Written by Kinsey Sullivan
08 Sunday 08th April 2012

How did you get started making music?

The Ouisa Hound project really emerged from my experience as a listener. My favorite works have always been those that fabricate their own unique little cosmos and orchestrate some kind of drama therein. That sounds very general and vague, but you leave these sorts of works with an actual sense of place. To me, that’s when you know something is really special—when it becomes a real site of visitation. Above all, I want to make my own little meditative places for people to enter into and explore and introspect. In all my work so far, I’ve tried to accomplish something close to this.

Definitely. That idea of a touchstone, a site of visitation, is really compelling.  

Yeah, I think it’s what really gives a work longevity. As far as my music goes, I’d just really like to invite listeners into a place that helps to open up a space for reflection. So I try to make these big cavernous environments where people can hopefully feel like real adventurers in an obscure new land. I’m trying to spit out and make sense of all these things inside me that I just can’t understand. I realize that’s shamelessly naïve, but then again, I think of naïvety as the greatest asset I have right now as far as music goes. 

Could you explain the name of the band, Ouisa Hound?

Well, first and foremost I wanted the name to reflect the goals and feeling of the sound people hear. It comes from the Greek word ousia, which has a problematic history and meaning, but is generally translated as essence. I misspelt it in part because of its obscurity—to indicate that I’m using the term loosely or playfully—and just to make it roll off the tongue a little easier. I realised after the fact that Ouisa is a diminutive form of the name Louisiana as well, which I think is really sort of funny. Most people probably think I’m pretending to be a dog from Louisiana or something. But I just wanted to evoke a sense of searching and discovery—that I’m after the sonic essence of an idea, emotion, experience, etc.

How has your career progressed? 

I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I have time. I just have to keep working at it everyday. I’ve literally only been making music for a few months now, so I think the future will see some really improved and mature work. I seriously think I could be producing the kind of work I dream of by the end of the summer, but we’ll see. 

I’m really excited for the summer since I’ll have so much time to focus and expand my sound. It’s hard working on music at intervals between class and stuff. I have so much trouble returning to things I’ve made and finishing them. It’s like I lose the sense of what it’s supposed to be. So, more than anything, I’m looking forward to that not being a problem anymore.

When you start creating a new track, what's your first step? Could you describe the progression? How you cultivate the atmosphere of your work?

It depends, really. I used to always begin with a drone base and then work over that, but that’s sloppy, really. With these new songs, I’m giving place to more identifiable instruments, rather than just laying down an unmanageable wall of sound. But, to answer your question in a more general sense, I usually have a certain idea or emotion in mind that I want to give its own sonic expression, but sometimes I come to an atmosphere just by experimenting with samples and stuff. 

Recently, I’ve been incorporating a great deal of field recordings into my compositions to stage a certain mood. One of the songs I’ve been working on actually begins with the sound of a cat purring and a bird flapping its wings. In this case, I wanted to give the song a predatory temper—it sounds to me as if the bird is trapped beneath the cat’s paws, helplessly flapping its wings, as the cat murmurs proudly to itself. 

For me, it always begins with an identifiable feeling, which then gets implicated and obscured in a drama with something else or works towards its own realisation. With 'Our Wake,' I tried to make something unabashedly hopeful and naïve - like waking up for the first time to a wondrous new world. The song actually begins with a sample from Victor Erice’s 'The Spirit of the Beehive' - six-year-old Ana is telling her sister Isabel to wake up. But, I also wanted to suggest something a little more sinister with the title, as 'wake' is used to mean an abstinence from sleep as well as the watching of a loved one’s body from death to burial. Basically, I wanted to suggest a certain direction more than anything - a sense of forthcoming drama. Generally, this is the sort of way a song comes about for me.

There's a lot of referential layers there, pulling in elements of literature and almost installation art. Is the composition of the songs intentionally dense with ideas or is that more a byproduct of the way your mind works, or something else entirely?

It’s really hard for me to make something that doesn’t have a specific meaning to me. I don’t make music simply for the sake of music. I try to gather all these referents to give my work a sense of purpose and identity. So, it’s partly intentional and partly just a result of these dusty books I’m around everyday. I’d really like if the songs appeared dense with ideas so that people could wonder about their meaning. But of course it’s also very important to me that the songs are enjoyable on a purely sensual level as well.

What do you like to do when you're not making music?

Well, all kinds of things. I’m studying English and Philosophy right now so, needless to say, I like to read and write a great deal. It’s sort of hard to speak about yourself and your interests in such a general way, so I’ll leave it at that. 

Are others involved in your creative process?

Only insofar as others inspire me to create and take the time to listen. At the end of the day, it’s just me in my dorm or bedroom trying to make beautiful things when I have the time. But I wouldn’t be doing that without all the wonderful people who have come into my life at one point or another.

What's the extent of your live show performances?

I’m just focusing on producing right now. I’m a very introverted person, so performing would be a really big step for me. I want to do it - I think about it all the time - but not until I figure out how to do it well and make it really special. It’s also just a matter of exposure at this point though. I’m all by myself right now, so I wouldn’t even know where to begin to organise any kind of show.

Do you plan on making music for the foreseeable future? What can we listeners look forward to?

Definitely. There will probably be a little release this week. I’m thinking about just releasing a single every month or so until I figure out what I want this project to be. In the meantime, I hope people can tag along as I figure that out. Ideally, I’d like to have my first real album out by the end of the year.

Check out more of Joseph's work as Ouisa Hound here, and keep your eyes peeled for his upcoming work. Share any ideas, thoughts, questions or revelations below. 

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  • DatCrack
    Wed 11 - Apr - 2012, 06:52
    Oh, I'm sorry gromble, I totally forgot that you were the guy who decides if a person is a hipster or not. I also forgot about that cool interview you did, and all the cool music that you write......Aw shit...thats joe...I forgot that you actually have never done anything cool....you're fucking beat
  • Guest: Turdnificent
    Wed 11 - Apr - 2012, 00:05
    Joe is actually the coolest dude ever, gromble. F'real.
  • Guest: paulklimt123
    Tue 10 - Apr - 2012, 17:10
    I don't know...seems like a pretty gentle and articulate dude to me.
  • Guest: gromble
    Tue 10 - Apr - 2012, 16:49
    what a fucking hipster.