Sunday, March 30, 2008

Oh Astro

Oh Astro

Oh Astro is Jane Dowe and Hank Hofler (and sometimes Stefen Robinson). The married couple/duo lived in Tokyo for a few years before settling in the college town of Normal, Illinois. They have a couple of records out on the Illegal Art label.

Jane Dowe contributed to the Deconstructing Beck compilation, in 1998, and was the driving force behing the first Oh Astro release. Hofler has performed with artists such as Otomo Yoshihide and Merzbow and originally performed as Jane Dowe, instead of his wife, before performing under his own name, and eventually became a partner with her on the Oh Astro project.

Hofler is currently a teacher at Illinois State University, in an Arts Technology program at the college. Jane Dowe has been focusing more recently on video installation. Their 2007 release, Champions of Wonder is also available via Illegal Art's Download Club.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Oh Astro...

*Name: Oh Astro

*Members: There are two main members, Jane Dowe and myself (Hank Hofler). Stefen Robinson (aka Yea Big), has contributed to enough tracks that he's considered a part-time member.

*Founding Members: It started as Jane's project, although Stefen and I were already in the shadows. We were all hanging out quite a bit and discussing how experimental computer processes could be applied to a more pop-like music.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: It's all computer and software-based music. We have used a mic and some external controllers, but it's mainly the computer.

*Another genre descriptor: I'm not sure. I'd prefer to just call it music. We're trying desperately to make music out of unconventional methods. Some reviewers have been using the term poptronica, which I kind of like, but that lumps us in with artists who we really don't have much in common with. I also like the term micro-sampling, but that has its problems as well. Similar to the terms you mention it focuses more on the technique rather than the end sonic result.

*Location: Illinois

*Original Location: I'm originally from California, but it's been years since I lived there.

*What is your creative/artistic background: I grew up playing the piano, and eventually picked up the guitar, then studied composition at the university, which led me to the electronic music studio. After that I've been pretty focused on electronic music. Jane also has a musical background, but her current direction is moving more towards working with video for gallery installations.

*History: This is the first CD we've earnestly created as a collaborative effort. I was involved with the first EP, but it wasn't really a collective project at that point.

*Motivations: I'm not sure. I have a compulsion to create this type of music. It doesn't really make much sense in the grand scheme of things, but I guess all artists have a need to create and communicate with the world in their own way.

*Philosophy: Music can be one of the most magical experiences, and we're definitely seeking that unexplainable transformation. We've felt it in other music and we're somehow trying to replicate it.

*How would you like to be remembered: I would love to have a positive impact on the world, but I mainly hope that my kids remember me as a decent person.

*Web address:

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