Grimm and Bear It – SSHHOOBBMMXXBBLLOOGG versus Stephen O’Malley

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November 23, 2012 by sshhoobbmmxxbblloogg

On a bit of a roll of late with super hard hitting journalism and the like. This time round, I was lucky enough to pin down SOMA (aka Stephen O’Malley) from Sunn O))), Burning Witch, KTL etc…

Q1. Who are you, and what do you do?

Stephen O’Malley, in this instance I am a musician.

Q2. You are probably most associated with Sunn O))), but have been / are a member of many other bands including Burning Witch, Khanate and KTL. As such you’re labelled as one of the godfathers of doom/drone. Is this fair, or do you feel unsettled by that label?

Personally I’m too young to be a godfather of anything, not even a father as of yet. People say what they say but it doesnt change the fact that we are all inadequate.

Q3. Sunn O))) was named after the amplifiers, and also as a tribute to seminal noisemakers Earth, also from Seattle, WA. Was having a band you admired so much being local help, or was it shit scary trying to be their peers?

I didnt know Dylan until I left Seattle and had lived other places. It didnt feel local… I guess we never bonded over Seattle but instead over mutual interests. Dylan and Earth are and have been very inspiring.

Q4. As both a solo artist and as a member of bands your list of collaborators is staggering, both in volume and also fields of work. Does the spectrum of genres appeal, or was it more by chance that these meetings of minds happened?

I can say that Im a fan (or have at a time been a fan) of all of the collaborators music or art. Its hopefully been mutual. Genre doesnt matter in comparison to personality.


Q5. Lots of people feel doom / drone metal is just noise, bereft of musicianship and discernible talent. Obviously these people are morons, but what is it about drone metal et al that drew / still draws you in?

If you care what “people” think you never get anywhere. It seems that 99% of people out there just want to put you down. Don’t be mislead by “they”.

Q6. You were involved in the foundations of Southern Lord, and are listed as curator / art director of Ideologic Organ. Does having greater control make things easier? Or were your dealings with, say Hydra Head just as easy going?

Can you be more specific?

Q7. As a rule, I always direct new listeners to the Sunn O))) / BORIS slpit “Altar” first, as its softer and easier to digest as a virginal set of ears to your band. What would you recommend to people wanting to explore doom bands?

Thats a good start, a more mellow album for sure.

Q8. If you could have any collaborator, living or dead to work with, who would that be, and why?


Q9. What are your plans for 2013?

The most immediat things I’m working on are music for a new theatre piece by Gisèle Vienne (together with Peter Rehberg as KTL), and collaboration with the composer Iancu Dumitrescu on a concerto piece for BBC Glasgow orchestra.

Q10. Can you please list five essential albums, according to SOMA? (They can be your own)

This is always a hard question. Some blend of Miles Davis, Wagner, Xenakis, Scott Walker, and various ethnic musics alight my walls.

Q11. I understand you are based in Paris now. From what I know of the city, it is full of electronica, techno and indie pop. Is there a thriving underground metal scene there?

I dont think so but there are several good bands.


for more, hit up
or tweet SOMA at @ideologicorgan



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