Ostrich Von Nipple is an avant garde musician on the very excellent European record label, Psychofon Records . Not much is known about OVN except he (I’m assuming OVN is a “he”) has been releasing very weird music for a few years now. If you’re a fan of The Residents, you’ll definitely dig OVN.
Psychofon reached out to me after the Homer Flynn interview and sent a nice package of some very strange music on their label, including a single from The Residents’ own Randy Rose , a French band called DDAA , and (obviously) Ostrich Von Nipple.
The packaging work is very unique and beautifully made. The music is really weird and has a lot of personality. It’s very early 1980s Residents with a twist (if you can even imagine that).
Here’s an interview with Ostrich Von Nipple, Stephen Albert, and Andreas Mathews:
Interview Audio (Podcast)
(NOTE: hitting the “play” button requires a hefty download of the entire audio file!).
Or, download an mp3 .
Anthony: Hi, this is Anthony for MakeWeirdMusic.com. I’m here with Andy and Stephen from Psychofon Records and our special guest artist, Ostrich Von Nipple. Andy and Stephen, thank you so much for getting this set up. Ostrich, thank you for joining us.
Ostrich: Well thank you very much for having me, Anthony. I must say, this is a pleasure for me to appear here. God dammit, this interview is over!
AG: So Ostrich, where does your name come from? What does it mean?
OVN: Well, it comes from perhaps about two decades ago, sir. There was a time when I was playing with my friends and we later became known as The Goons of Waxing Gibbous. We had a performance one particular day. It was a dark day. The sea–she was angry that day, but we carried on and decided: if we’re going to entertain these fine gentlemen in our carefully picked garb, perhaps we should present them with our names as well.
We chose our names and mine seemed to roll right off the tongue. I kept it and later realized its importance for the nipple is the pathway for life-giving milk. Sustenance. And what does an ostrich do, according to myth when it’s kinda chickened out? It buries its head in the sand and you see, sir, this is all too natural for me and those that I love. This interview is over!
Okay, I’m sorry about that.
AG: No worries. It happens all the time. What music has been an influence for you?
OVN: Well [groans], well I’d say there’s a wide variety of music that influences me musically. A bit more specifically, I’ll say that I do love soundtrack music, particularly cartoon music, but really any sort of films and whatnot. I also am heavily influenced by classical Indian music and the Hindustani raga. That happens to be a passion of mine and I feel very uncomfortable discussing it with the three of you staring at me like I’m some kind of–I’m just kidding.
This interview is over!
AG: All right. [Gets up and leaves.] Sorry, I had to turn off my air conditioner. It was making a lot of noise. Didn’t mean to give you the impression this interview was over.
OVN: Oh, I’m very sorry. I seem to have a temperament. Huh. Not like a temperature like you would need a thermometer to read, but a temperament.
AG: Like a breathmint.
OVN: That’s ridiculous.
AG: I’ve noticed you follow a certain grammar with all of your album titles. Ostrich Von Nipple Contemplates the Cosmos , Quantifies Absurdity … Can you tell me if there’s intention behind that? A meaning? What leads to these particular grammars?
OVN: Well, yes, that is true. Each one of these records is typically named in a present tense form. A verb. It’s fucking grammar. And it’s a very conscious effort because I do like the feeling that the idea that this is happening currently. That what you’re listening to and experiencing is happening currently, never in the past, never in the future, but always now. I would hope that a listener would join me on this active journey each and every time.
And I’d just like to say that I thank the Academy for presenting me with this fucking honor. It’s been a pleasure there as I sit and speak to you. I need a moment. [Pauses.] I’m sorry about that.
AG: So your music gives you a sort of omnipresence because you’re always performing it live in the moment for the listener.
OVN: Yes, I would say that’s a fair assessment. Absolutely.
OVN: Because I’ve spent plenty of time listening to tons of music that made me feel somewhat alienated. It is my hope that this would be the exact opposite. [A head is peering, gazing over OVN’s shoulder.]
AG: Is there someone with you?
OVN: Yes. You, and Stephen, and Andreas are with me.
AG: All right. Can you tell me–
OVN: Do you receive me?
AG: Oh yeah. I receive you.
OVN: Okay, great.
AG: Can you tell us about your “Absurdity” project? It seems like you’ve been releasing several titles under Qualifies Absurdity, Quantifies Absurdity, more fun grammar stuff. What’s the concept behind these “Absurdity” projects?
OVN: I would have to say that the Absurdity project really came about towards the end of an album I was working on prior to its release, as well as an EP entitled Ostrich Von Nipple Plays Some Shitty Tunes. Now, I found myself in the situation where I seemed to be creating music from all of these other areas that I typically don’t explore or explore, perhaps, for a different amount of time, therefore experiencing for a different amount of time.
I kept working all these ideas and I’m shaking my head as I answer because I look so serious. And as I continued working on this music, I realized that it was all quite absurd. Absurd in some fashion and some form. But, again, as I shake my head in earnest, I must tell you these concepts all have a common thread and somehow seem to work together. And if I’ve made you feel that this answer is somewhat rehearsed in any way, I assure you it is only because I am such a poor actor. This interview is over!
OVN: That was embarrassing. I’m sorry guys. Can we reset back to the–what the one? Okay. Next question.
AG: The next question is for Andy. Is that cool?
AG: Andy, how did you discover Ostrich Von Nipple?
AM: It was around 2012 when I first heard Ostrich on YouTube and I was amazed by his outstanding music. It caught me directly so I took my chance and asked him if he would like to work with me. Psychofon Records didn’t exist yet and because of Ostrich Von Nipple, I decided to create a new record label. Ostrich has a direct connection to Psychofon and without Ostrich, the label would not exist. That is to say….
AG: What’s your favorite Ostrich Von Nipple album and why?
AM: Okay, I don’t really have a favorite release. I simply love all of his music and it’s art just for the art. That’s the most important thing for me and that’s also why I support his ideas and all his various projects. I will produce whatever he submits and all his various work because I know it will be great. If I had to pick one, I would say Ostrich Von Nipple Quantifies Absurdity. When it was released, it was the heaviest project done and it’s a perfect example of the raw energy of the extraordinary Ostrich Von Nipple sound. Indeed, unearthly.
AG: He didn’t pay you to say that, right?
AM: Um, yeah sure. Naturally. What can I say?
AG: What is your role in the creation of his music?
AM: It’s a good question. I handle all the label-related work. Everything that happens after receiving the music and artwork from the artists, from creation of the records, CDs, and of course, I create all the collector’s variations, all the way down to packaging and shipping and stuff. Things like that. I always wanted to have my own label and now we are celebrating next year our 5th birthday. Man, time flies.
Psychofon has a specific mission and that is to produce music from the other, from artists from other dimensions, almost like we are growing a special garden of people with a unique taste for music and art. Ostrich fits that bill perfectly. In a world of artistic conformity and a general dumbing down of the mind, I feel that it takes something like Psychofon Records as a gateway for unknown and unseen art.
As you may have noticed, not so many people support independent art. I’m deeply rooted with the indie art movement from the 70s and 80s. I see it as an obligation to support the important task that the remains of the counterculture continues.
AG: Thank you for doing that. I think it’s important. I really appreciate you putting that effort into bringing good stuff in the world.
AM: Thank you very much, Anthony, for the kind words.
AG: How do you choose which artists you’re going to represent on your label?
AM: That really depends on my personal taste. I only sign artists that I really, really love. If I hear something and I really like it, we will move forward. What is also important is that the artist fits our concept of music from the ether.
AG: That’s awesome. I have a couple of CDs here, one from DDAA, which is nice. Got a nice big digipak and then another nice big digipak for Ostrich Von Nipple Quantifies Absurdity. Nice tri-fold package. And then we’ve got this plastic package for this one with the lenticular printed cover.
AM: Yeah, it’s a lenticular cards. I grew up in my youth with this shit so I have a special–I love these lenticular cards. I thought, “When I do a label one day, then I have to do something special like lenticular cards.” I’m always looking for some special stuff we can do for covers and all that shit. So I like very much to create it. That is, for me, the most important part of my role. It’s wonderful to put my life inside these little creations.
AG: That’s awesome. I forgot to ask you, what do you do at Psychofon? You’re the owner, you started the label, right?
AM: Yeah, I’m the owner of Psychofon Records. Right. I run Psychofon.
AG: And what does that look like? What does the owner of Psychofon do?
AM: I occupy myself since my youth with collecting electronic music, underground, plunderphonics , musique concrete , brote music?, record art objects, and all this avant garde stuff. And I’m the proud collector of releases with interesting pictures. So, my collection that I gathered over the years is very unique and reflects the history of this music.
I really love music that is released in an abnormal way. I have albums that use small toy cars with needle and speakers attached that drive over the records called “vinyl killers.” For example, little fingerphones, the smallest and most simple record player in the world. I also collect the most beautiful picture discs. All these things were always fascinating for me, still to this day.
I have collected an immense wealth of packaging ideas over the last 40 years and that helps me with new projects. My process usually starts with a kind of meditation focusing on the project as a world. The music and artwork and the whole concept. I create and build everything by myself and with my bare hands. For that, you need a lot of experience and I’m a craftsman originally by trade and I know a lot about different materials and techniques for metal working, industrial productions, etcetera. This comes in handy when trying to come up with unique ideas for packaging.
One of the strangest releases I’ve put together was for Ostrich Von Nipple’s debut on Psychofon, Ostrich Von Nipple Plays Some Shitty Tunes. Our promotion package came with a handmade graffiti press information and the album was contained inside a frisbee, so you can actually throw Ostrich to a friend and they can catch it and listen to the music.
AG: Ostrich, what are your thoughts on Andy and Psychofon Records?
OVN: Well, I think being handy today in the records business is important, Anthony. Thank you for asking. I think in this particular business you have to worry about construction of certain elements because music is sort of like building a house.
You want to start with the foundation and then you start to build up around it and create a structure. Eventually, you can put the paneling on for the walls, complete the exterior, and you have something substantial, and then it’s always time to go inside and do the decorating and the final touches. So, yes, I thank you for asking.
AG: Why are you here? What do you do?
SA: I’m the website administrator and designer for Psychofon Records. I also write most of the English text for the site and pretty much anything that goes on on the Internet relating to Psychofon Recrords. Most of my tasks involve updating the site, getting projects ready for release, calculating costs in the ever-changing shipping system, which is a nightmare. We handle shipping across the world and we have customers across the world, but the fun comes when I get to write press release info for one of my favorite artists in the world, Ostrich.
AG: How did you get associated with Psychofon?
SA: It started when I did some work for Ostrich Von Nipple in 2014 as a volunteer. I designed some graphics for him just for fun. He liked my work and this is how I got in contact with Psychofon in general, through working with and getting closer to Ostrich. At the point when I was contacting him, I was really in love with his music and just a total fanboy. And I was really also starting to realize the unique stuff that Psychofon put out and Ostrich told me that I should approach Andy and see if he would let me build his website as well.
I pitched some ideas to him about an automated web shop and he was reluctant at first, but then after I showed him some examples of my work and visited the Psychofon headquarters in Bremerhaven, we put together a plan to create this site. I think it was a big success. From that point forward, my range of responsibilities grew and I found myself approaching media companies for promotion, distribution, other various things. I don’t know.
Now I have the privilege of direct contact with the artists on the label, which is, for me, completely crazy. That’s the best payment anyone could ever receive for doing this kind of stuff, at least for me.
AG: Are there any difficulties in dealing with secretive artists like OVN over here, who’s enjoying a beverage?
SA: Not at all. In fact, it’s really fun. I think you could see that. It keeps things interesting. It keeps you on your toes. In my line of work, there’s a lot of dry, boring editing and emailing to do and search engine optimization and social media crap. It’s great because I can have one on one time with these guys and learn more about their craft and what they do while I work.
Really, their identities are not important. At what point does the face matter? What you’re looking at right now is Ostrich Von Nipple. There is no other person under that mask. I think if you take off the mask, it’s just a black void that goes on to infinity. If you want to know who he is, just look no further than his music. Listen to the words and get the emotional intent from the compositions. For me, I’m really really into the music.
With Ostrich, his music is as intimate as you can get with anybody. His music is a great example of that. He obscures his identity, but he, at the same time, bares his soul to the world with his albums.
AG: Ostrich, what were you doing before Psychofon Records picked you up?
OVN: Well, back before Psychofon Records, I did have one other CD that was released worldwide called Ostrich Von Nipple Contemplates the Cosmos. That particular record was released on WM Recordings at the time, which I don’t believe is even around anymore. I think they may be WM Digital. Hmph, lots of consonants there.
Anyhow, I had finished that record and had it released. Quite honestly, Anthony, I was on top of the world. Here I was, a young fucking bird brain with ne’er a nipple to spare. Top-selling records on the charts. I won’t–you can look up the charts, but it’s important that I tell you that I took that chance and went with Psychofon Records because it’s not about me, Anthony.
AG: It’s not.
OVN: This interview is over!
AG: All right, Stephen. What’s your favorite OVN release? What do you recommend to people?
SA: Just like Andy, I’m a big fan of his work as a whole. But, really, the concept behind his music is that every album represents just one piece of a puzzle. He’s told me this a hundred times. The puzzle slowly comes together with every release and they all fit together somehow. I find that concept really genius. That’s why I’m so into his music.
One of his most impressive works in my opinion would have to be the picture disc that came out not too long ago. It contains two 15-minute musical pieces titled Swarm Suite and So Do They. They’re incredible collages of pretty much all of his previous work intertwined with new material and art by this Nevada artist, Poxodd , who’s just incredible.
I don’t think a lot of people realize how hard it is to make a 15-minute piece of continuous progressive music, let alone two 15-minute pieces in the short amount of time he put it together. This has always stuck out to me as one of his most mature works or impressive accomplishments. It really showcases the various sounds and moods of Ostrich Von Nipple.
OVN: I concur.
AG: All right guys. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. How can people pick up some of OVN’s records?
SA: Well, you can easily go to PsychofonRecords.com and we have a fully-working web shop up there. It has everything you would possibly be interested in buying. I strongly suggest buying everything. Just grab it all indiscriminately. Don’t look at the price. Don’t look at the shipping. Don’t even look at the pictures or the words. Just click the “Add to Cart” button and go for it.
AG: Andy, thank you so much. Ostrich, this interview is actually over, so thank you for your time.
OVN: Thank you sir.
AG: Cool. Thank you, guys.