The Outlaw Ocean Music Project | Interview with : FOUK

** (Update 8 December 2021 : I wrote a piece about recent events that have circulated about The Outlaw Ocean Music Project. Read it here.) **

Fouk opened their collaborative EP with the highly engaging and energetic, The Chase. It immediately stood-out as one of the most accomplished composed for The Outlaw Ocean Music Project. Since, it has gone on to become one of my favourite electronic songs of 2020 too. Their EP, Below Fifty Degrees South, was released in June and features many samples ripped from Ian Urbina’s journalistic sound archive.

The Chase is a wash of atmospheric samples, racing/progressive drum patterns and intense synths. It opens up the collection in fine fashion and really struck a chord. Daniel and Hans, kindly agreed to a Zoom call with me to speak about it.

Listen to the track whilst you are reading the interview for the best experience.

The Interview

What made you both get involved and get started with this EP?

Daniel: It all started last year when Ian got in touch with us and over a short phone call, it got very serious. He explained his ideas and what the project was all about.

Hans: We were intrigued and after receiving a digital copy of the book and reading it, we decided to take part, we had a lot of time available to work on it. After reading the book, we were in a good mindset to create the EP.

Before you started composing, Did you have an idea how the EP was going to sound or did you create it as you went along?

Daniel: Around the time Ian approached us, we were thinking about making a new album. Our sound is mainly dance/house music but for the album, we had various ideas and beats created that were slightly more experimental. These ideas were different and ranged from slow beats to the fast rhythm that features in The Chase‘. We had been thinking of making some more cinematic styled music, this project gave us a chance to make music outside of our normal sphere.

Hans: We made a more downtempo track on one of our previous EP’s and we enjoyed making it. This project did give us a good platform to try some new material out and flex our musical muscles a bit. We have a broad range of what kind of music we make but we are used to predominantly releasing house or funk.

We hope that others will see this EP and realize that we can make more than just house or funk.

After being sent Ian’s extensive bank of footage, how did you pick which sounds you wanted to use in the EP and why?

Hans: Coming from a production background, I think we already knew naturally what types of sounds we were looking for. From experience, our ears are tuned to the types of sounds we can work with.

Daniel: We didn’t want to use the same sounds for every track, we used a lot of different prose, radio communications and bleeps throughout the EP. The final track, Fisherman’s Lament, has the sounds of fishermen yelling on the deck. The most logical sound to use is obviously ocean footage, we used a recording from a beach in ‘The Chase’, but we were conscious not to over-do the ocean sounds in the EP.

How do you create music together? For example, Does Hans provide the drums and Daniel the synths? How do you normally arrange the way you work?

Hans: In terms of the keys, Daniel is better then I am, so that’s his department more-so. We both come up with the ideas equally- we work best when we start out on new ideas individually and then come together to expand on them.

Daniel: Hans is great at doing things with samples and making sounds that I would not be able to come up with. When we get together with our ideas, we start jamming until something clicks and we know if the ideas are good.

There was a special guest performer on the EP, can you tell me more about that?

Daniel: The second song (Below 50 Degrees South) on the EP is indeed, a very special one. We asked my father-in-law, who is a drummer, to come and play on the track. He has been a drummer for forty years and always wanted to be featured on one of our songs. We set up a drum kit in my attic and recorded him, it was a really special moment and it turned out great. The song had a seventies library funk sound to it and the drums were nice and gritty. It was nice to have real drums included in the music.

The song I’ve included in my feature (and keep listening to) is The Chase. Can you tell me about The Chase and where the ideas behind it came from?

Hans: I wanted to make something with a kind of military beat and came up with the original snare roll that’s heard in the song. After the drums were composed, I started thinking of Radiohead‘s ‘Everything In Its Right Place’, for some inspiration. I really like the warm chords, the progression and the repetitive nature of the synths in that iconic song. We started jamming with that idea in mind and that’s where ‘The Chase’ came from.

Daniel: We finished recording the EP in a special place, Hans’ parents have a summer house (near the Dutch coast) and we brought all of our equipment there to complete the EP. When we were there and busy finishing off ‘The Chase’, we needed to find a synth sound that would create a tense atmosphere and tie in with the military rhythm.

We played around with ideas until I remembered a technique that I learnt in my studies, the Shepard’s Tone. This gave the synth a continuous rising effect. It’s a technique used a lot in cinematic pieces, Christopher Nolan, for example, used a Shepard’s tone in his orchestral score for Dunkirk. Hans Zimmer often uses it, in his case, he gets a whole orchestra involved. We did it on a smaller scale with a synth throughout ‘The Chase’.

Hans: The snare roll in ‘The Chase’ was played by Daniel, at first we planned to use digital beats but when we were recording ‘Below 50 Degrees South’, the drums were set up and Daniel started recording himself whilst we were on a break. That was how the song was made.

Listen to the full EP here:

About ‘The Sound Sniffer’

The Sound Sniffer is a one-man music blog which is still only a baby – Founded and run by Kevin Coakley in early 2019. He is a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs gigs and showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists I find in my submissions inbox.

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