[Interview] OTEHI (IT)

OTEHI (band photo 2017)
OTEHI have announced that they will be releasing their new album soon.
We took the opportunity and had a little chat with the band and we present you this interview. Enjoy!

1. Hello. It's nice to have you here in Downtuned. First of all give us a short bio about OTEHI.
"When there's a severe winter and people are going through difficult times due to lack of heat or food, this is 'Otehi'. When someone we love is sick or dies, this is 'Otehi'. When epidemics strike us, when people die, when there is no more hope, this is 'Otehi'." 'Otehi' is not only an ancient Lakota word, it's a brotherhood, a way to conceive the world.

Back in the early 2011, Maciej Wild Mikolajczyk (Bass & Voice), Domenico Canino (Guitar, FXs & Voice) and Vito Zito (Drums) gave birth to a band and started to work on their own sound, dirty and granitic, sometimes clean and amniotic, a mix of stoner rock, alternative and  harcore punk.
In the same year, the band wrote his first EP, "Noisy Spirit", which was recorded in the Itria Valley, IT, in a country house in August. It was  a very low budget production, recorded with old cheap amps and one 4-channels mixer, but few months ago the album was shared worldwide, and was acclaimed to be one of the most heavy, trippy and experimental independent productions of 2011.
In the meantime the band played a lot of live shows all over Italy and Europe, and there was a change in the line-up. Vito Zito abandoned the project for personal reasons, and Corrado Battistoni became the new drummer.
During the live rituals, Otehi projects video-art and concept videos about nature, spirits and universe, and all the artworks, posters and graphics are usually made by the band itself. Every member of the band has his own artistic research in the graphic arts.
In 2013 another experimental EP was released, the EP: "Rise Of The Elements".
After two years of hard work on music and visual aspects, in 2014, Otehi recorded in Rome their first LP, "Dead Chants and Forbidden Melodies", a concept album where the sound evolved, became more personal and psychedelic, but at the same time heavy, raw and out of control.

2. How did you choose the name OTEHI?
Otehi is a word taken from the ancient Lakota language, we took inspiration from Native American sacred populations, it represents a difficult and hard time for the tribe, a sort of negative karma, when people suffer waiting for something better.

3. How would you describe what you’re playing to someone who haven’t heard anything from you? What are the main components of your sound?
We evolved during these years, we started with a very fuzzy and raw sound, full of straight riffs and psychedelic compositions, we used cheap and old amplifiers in the beginning, then we tried to clean the sound a little bit, searching for something more melodic and mantric, but we never lost the heavy and granitic component.

4. You've managed to create your own particular musical style. What were the major influences that contributed to the formation of your style?
As a band, we came from different scenes and genres, you can find the main influences in the early desert rock scene, but also in the hardcore punk, space and psychedelic rock ending on the alternative metal. We always tried to develop our personal kind of sound, but it wasn’t easy, we wanted something really particular and innovative, our mission is to keep the genre fresh and constantly evolving. We think that the stoner and psychedelic music give you the opportunity to search new languages to communicate with the people.

5. How easy or difficult was for you to make you first steps in the underground scene of Italy? Was it easy to find an audience for your music?
Honestly, we are not very interested on the Italian stoner scene anymore, the scene is going little bit rotten, you find always the same people playing all around in the clubs, there is a monopoly of the main labels and bands, they are not interested on innovative sound and experimental research, usually it’s all about the money, standard bands are preferred to experimental ones, obviously they make more audience and consequently music became business. We prefer tribal and intimate music rituals, we often organize private generator parties for those who really understand the true feeling of stoner rock. We have fans in Italy, anyway.

6. Is there a big fan base that supports and attends live gigs in Italy or do you feel that the audience should get bigger and more supportive?
In Italy there are a lot of great bands. It’s sad that the underground scene is not supported so well, but we think thats’s a worldwide problem. The underground is sinking, the mainstream is getting stronger everyday but true people will always fight for it!

7. Allow me to ask you, what are your normal everyday jobs?
We’re all involved in art and design, we work like set designers, graphic designers, painters and printmakers.

8. Does your everyday jobs make it harder to you to find time for the band?
Yes, sometimes is very hard to find the time for the band, but we always try to link our jobs to the music, we are lucky to do this kind of jobs, visual arts are not so different from making music, the artworks and the posters and all the visuals for Otehi are made by us, it’s a way to feel good in your life, the way to be really happy and productive.

9. How does the whole songwriting process work for you? What are the emotions you want people to receive when they hear your music?
All the songs we've written took inspiration from the daily life, from the mix of feelings, from the happiness to the frustration and difficulties of the world around us. Usually we meet in the rehearsal room and start to jam, and we make a selection of what we consider interesting and magic. Then we work on the riffs, enriching it with mystical and cathartic components. In the end we have a hypnotic and mantric track, that makes the listener part of the ritual, allowing mind and introspective trips, and that’s what we want to transmit. Every show is just like a tribe ritual, all the listeners become a part of something bigger, surreal but true.

10. During a gig, is the communication with the crowd important for you? Does the positive feedback from the crowd motivate you to perform with more passion?
Yes, we’re very happy to see people involved in our music, but honestly during our shows we’re in a sort of trance between us, we don’t have physical and visual contact with the people, it’s not easy to explain, but we have an subconscious feeling that we are linked with them. We always give the best of us and the maximum of the passion to make people feel good and to give them something to reflect about after the show, that’s very important.

11. In 2011 you released your first EP 'Noisy Spirit'. What is different and what stayed the same, in the way you work since that first release.
Every Otehi album is a single and particular work, it was developed in a particular way, during different moments and brings different energies. For sure the quality of the sound and of the recordings it’s better from one album to the next one, we’re hardly working on this aspect. Honestly we like the multiplicity of aspects that make every album unique. If you listen to “Noisy Spirit”, the sound is very raw and fuzzy, but it’s still a good listening experience, “Dead Chant And Forbidden Melodies” is more complex and we concentrated our attention on the psychedelic and lysergic sounds. The new album goes back to the roots with innovative production and compositions.

12. Since 2011 you've released two EPs and one full album. What is the feedback you've been receiving from these releases so far?
During these 6 years we have produced and created a lot, we talked and collaborated with our fans, we are very interested in this aspect, we consider the people part of our music… We are interested in live and festivals where people live a kind of tribalization, a back to the primitive… Fortunately we always had a very good feeling with this people, it’s a good occasion to say “Thank You!” to all of you!

13. Last year you released an unplugged live album. How did you decide to do such a 'project'? Was it a difficult process? Are there plans to do it again in the future or it was just a one time 'experiment'?
“Unplugged” is a radio live recording experience. We got the recordings from the technical staff and we decided to produce an album to enclose some old tracks revisited in acoustic way. We didn’t care about feedback or critic, it’s was necessary for our music evolution. We always followed the acoustic and tribal way to make music, and this album is the result, we really enjoyed this experience, it was something new, deep and totally strange, playing these tracks with the pleasant lightness that the acoustic sound is distinguished for.

14. Soon you will be releasing a brand new album. What should your fans be expecting from this new album? Did you add any new elements that you want to tell us about?
In 1st November 2017 we will release our second LP “Garden Of God”. A journey begun 2 years ago which finally will end this fall and the album will be released via Hellbones Records (Italy, Rome). It’s a really great step forward for our career because we worked more than 2 year on these tracks and the arrangement and the result is fuckin’ great! (Hahaha). A special thanks to Rockwood Studios that really helped us during the recordings, they gave us the perfect sound we were searching’ for. “Garden Of God” is the heaviest album we've ever made, an esoteric heavy stoner, you will find doom, punk and lo-fi psychedelic alternative influences in it. It's a long trip, a sacred musical ritual where the listener will think about concepts like faith, human race, inner self evolution and annihilation of the nature. The earth is described like a holy garden, destroyed and raped by fake gods, politics, wars and human stupidity.

15. Are there any plans for a tour after the release? Do you plan in touring outside Italy? Are there any plans to visit Greece as well?
Yes of course, we are organizing two tours, in Italy at first and a European tour next year. We are searching’ to play gigs anywhere, Greece have a really strong stoner scene, we will be really happy to share the stage with some Greek bands in you country! If you have any contacts feel free to write us!

16. Who designed the artwork. Is there any specific concept behind it?
OTEHI - Garden of God (artwork)The design of the artwork took about 3 months, it was so difficult and long to complete!
The cover represents a sacred and nocturnal scene, there is a human skeleton that interacts underground with a skeleton of an animal, which is represented like a sacred figure but usually considered inferior to the human, both of them are victims of the “Garden Of God”. The first is the maker and the other is the innocent victim of humans living in this world. The heart represents the pulsing nature which continue to live even when everything goes wrong. There’s no paradise, everything lives, and dies forever. But this is just our interpretation, everyone should interpret it as he wish. The artwork was designed by Maciej Wild Mikolajczyk (www.staticnoisestudio.com) with the help of the artist Domenico Canino.

17. When can your fans begin to order your new album and where?
“Garden Of God” will be released on November 1st, 2017. The pre-orders will start on October 1st through our Bandcamp page.

18. We wish you good luck to whatever you do in the future, the epilogue is yours...
Thank you very much! The music is the supreme art that one can express himself with, freely, free from everything else. It gives you infinite emotions and thanks to this ancient practice we are able to think our life in a good way!

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