Celeste Potter of Ouch My Face — The Collapse Board Interview
What would you consider as Ouch My Face’s first big break?
Have we had a big break? I don’t know if we have. There’s been a few events along the way that have helped us do what people would think are bigger things. One thing that has opened a lot of opportunities up for us is being signed to Valve.
You guys were named in the annual ‘Artists to Watch’ feature in Rolling Stone Australia. How did you feel about that?
We’ve had a few things like that, it’s kind of cool and you can pretend you’re famous because you’re looking at yourself because you’re in Rolling Stone magazine but I don’t think it really means anything to be honest. How many bands do you see in Rolling Stone magazine that you never see again? Or that you have no fucking idea who they are? It’s kind of nice but I don’t think it really bears any significance to us as success.
How’s the Ouch My Face debut record coming along?
[Laughs] Good, it’s been such a long time coming. I find writing an album very daunting just because I think you need to write music without thinking about where it is going and what’s going to become of it. When we first released our EP and that brought us to a lot of people’s attention, some people kind of got offered some stuff by people who meant something and they were just like “You have to make a record now! You have to make an album now! If you do anything else you’re just not going to be big enough, now is your chance.” That was just completely paralyzing and I think it’s taken a long time for me to recover from that. Suddenly there was all this expectation to write an album. As soon as there is these expectations and intentions, it’s not about the music anymore — it sucks the creativity away. For the last little while I’ve been trying to rearrange our head space as a band, trying to not care about that — to just do it because we love it rather than people trying to get us to write an album. That’s where we’re at, at the moment. We have a lot of new songs but every time I think about sorting through them and sorting out which ones will go on the album I think, why should we have an album anyway? It’s a funny convention.
I know what you mean, so many of my friends have released awesome music over the years via several EPs and vinyl — like you guys have — and then they’re told they should do the full length album thing, they do it and then usually don’t release anything else or break up and you never hear from them again. It’s so sad.
It’s the crushing expectation in writing an album! [Laughs] It really is. All that “Oh you don’t play all those festivals until you’ve got an album”, it’s just all this fucking pressure. I do want to write an album and I do have lots of songs but at the same time I’m like, fuck! Why does everyone think you have to write an album after you’ve had a successful EP?
Your album will be released on Valve?
We haven’t talked to Paul about it. We’ll come to that when we’ve decided that we’re ready to record it.
How do you get inspired to write? Is there a particular time of the day you find is better for you?
I can’t be stressed out. Sometimes we go away to write. We have a friend that has a beach house. We’ve gone there a couple of times, there’s no mobile reception, no internet — we force ourselves to just look each other in the eyeballs and write [laughs]. No TV.
The verses for the Ouch My Face song ‘Eyeball To Eyeball’ are swear words in Tagalog. I wanted to ask where your cultural heritage is from. Is it from the Philippines?
Yeah, my mum is Pilipino so she taught me all those words from a young age [laughs]. I called her up to check with her that I had the right phrases and she wouldn’t believe me that I learnt them from her. She was like “No you didn’t learn them because of me” [laughs].
Have you visited the Philippines at all?
Yeah, I’ve been there four times.
What’s the music scene there like?
I know they have some pretty cheesy pop music from what I’ve come across. I have no idea about it though really, I haven’t been there since I was 12.
Are your parents’ supporters of what you do?
Yeah I guess. I don’t know if they have a strong opinion either way. They’re very traditional types. My brother works in a factory, is married and they’re from the country and work hard. I think maybe they had trouble understanding … like you know how there’s the saying ‘If you really want to piss your parents off go into the arts’? It’s sort of a bit like that [laughs].
I’ve read that Ouch My Face played at a place in New Zealand called Camp A Low Hum.
We’ve played there twice, it was amazing!
You’ve commented that playing there made you feel a part of something special?
It’s similar to what I was talking about, that a lot of bands … I just get this feeling from a lot of bands that they feel like everything is a precedent to something else like it’s not good enough until you’re a massive band playing at the Forum or some arena. Everyone is doing it but they’re not really experiencing it for what it is, they’re just hoping that they’re going to get bigger. I just feel like a lot of people don’t really just look around them and see how beautiful it is to play to 50 or 100 people and play with a bunch of bands they know and just have this exchange of art and emotion and noise.
Camp A Low Hum is this beautiful festival, there’s no security, no advertising — they don’t even advertise who’s playing until you get there. Everyone just rocks up because they want to hear music, not just because some fucking ‘cool’ band is playing. There’s nowhere that bands can go that punters can’t, there’s no out of bounds — everyone is all in together, they’re just sharing. It’s brilliant. Camp A Low Hum is music without all the politics and all the people wishing they were somewhere else, wishing they were the Yeah Yeah Yeahs [laughs]. It’s appreciating you get to play to people and that people want to hear it.
Do you ever get nervous playing live? You mentioned before that you were shy.
Yeah. When I first started playing I couldn’t get on stage without being disgustingly drunk. Even in the day before we’d play I’d just be beside myself, I’d throw up. You can’t sustain that nervousness, so after a while I just forced myself to get used to it. Touring really helps that because you have to play every day and you can’t be throwing up and be scared every single day. You get over it pretty quickly. These days because we’ve supported bigger bands and played with The Bronx and stuff like that — playing to 2,000 people that aren’t there to see you — after you’ve done that it’s pretty easy to play to people that are there to see you. It can be pretty intimidating though.