Last week the biggest things on Christian Ohly’s mind was the upcoming March 27th release of his band’s newest single, “University” and being chosen by Wayne State label Old Main as their first official band collaboration. Details soon…
This week, things have changed. As they have for all inhabitants of Planet Earth. Like all bands, it’s uncertain when Ohly will play live again. Or what that will look like. The world at this moment is changing for all of us, and, if there’s any excitement to be had, it’s in seeing how young musicians shape the face of entertainment post #coronavirus.
Ohly started playing music seven or eight years ago after seeing Head and the Heart. That was the moment for him. His brother and father played guitar, so that made it easier. While still in high school he started playing open mics in coffee shops.
After two years of community college, he finished his undergraduate degree in Hawaii where his Hawaiian ancestry made for in-state tuition. He didn’t study music. He studied business, but he was writing and playing music the whole time. He also played soccer for all four years of college—a fact that has nothing to do with his music, but it’s a fun fact nonetheless.
And, let’s face it, the world could use some fun right now.
Ohly and I spoke on the phone last Friday. He had just been informed by his employer he would be working from home—yet is still hopeful about shows. Which is still kind of a new thing for him. He’s spent over three years writing albums and songs, but he’s only been playing with a band for three months.
Indeed, a lot can happen in three months. Or a week.
The following interview was conducted by email. The first round of our standard Detroit Sounds question. The second set sent after our initial conversation. While we’re stoked to know that Ohly is a Lafayette Man (V American), right now what’s on the forefront of our minds is how anyone is making sense of this #coronavirus situation. Especially someone whose craft is defined by gathering large crowds.
The world is in quarantine, so maybe take a moment to read our conversation and check out Ohly’s music here. What else are you going to do? JK/NJK.
OHLY ROUND TWO
CV HENRIETTE: I ASSUME YOU, LIKE THE REST OF US, ARE SPENDING A LOT OF TIME INDOORS. HOW ARE YOU PASSING IT?
CO: I’ve started reading more. Go find a book that people say is hard to put down! Also, buy a record online from one of your favorite bands and analyze the music (or a t-shirt, cd, print if you don’t have a record player).
CVh: WHAT’S KEEPING YOU INSPIRED?
CO: My friend Max Howard (Bassist, Mortgage Underwriter) lent me Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Finishing that book made me thankful I have instruments to help with creativity. Writers spill their mind on paper and come up with masterpieces. Guitars, percussion, piano, computers do a big chunk of the work for me. Definitely hoping I can take advantage of time inside the next few weeks and pump out a solid song or two.
CVh: WHAT’S KEEPING YOU GROUNDED?
CO: I’m concerned for the elderly and those without income. Lots of prayer and remembering things will end up alright is helping me personally. Seems like the whole world is working together on this one.
CVh: WITH PUBLIC GATHERINGS ON HOLD, HOW ARE YOU CONNECTING TO AUDIENCES?
There are a lot of exciting music live streams coming up. We have one coming on the 28th which I can’t announce yet. Also, really trying to put out any content unrelated to the virus to hopefully distract some followers.
CVh: GENERAL THOUGHTS? WORDS OF WISDOM?
CO: Hmm, I’m not too wise so I’ll leave you with Ben Franklin. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
OHLY ROUND ONE
CVh: HOW DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC ON YOUR PERSONAL TIME?
CO: I have two cassette tapes from current bands and my car still has a cassette player. So that, and streaming.
CVh: THE LAST ALBUM YOU LISTENED TO IN ITS ENTIRETY?
CO: Bright Eyes – “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.”
CVh: AFTER THE SHOW, LAFAYETTE OR AMERICAN CONEY ISLAND?
CVh: WHAT INSTRUMENT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD PLAY?
CVh: IF YOU HAD A THEME SONG, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
CO: Donkey Kong Country – Aquatic Level.
CVh: BEST LIVE SHOW YOU’VE EVER SEEN?
CO: Head and the Heart — Royal Oak Music Theatre.
CVh: HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR COFFEE?
CO: With cream.
CVh: MUSICAL INFLUENCES?
CO: All-Time: Pinegrove, Pedro the Lion, Ben Gibbard
Detroit: Jackamo, Remnose, Kimball, Frontier Ruckus
CVh: HOW HAS MUSIC SHAPED YOUR LIFE?
CO: Impacts my day to day more than I realize. Fostered a connection with some of my favorite people.
CVh: WHAT’S YOUR HEADPHONE-ONLY MUSIC?
CO: Hip Hop, on a run.
CVh: FAVORITE MUSIC YOU HATE TO LOVE?
CO: Blink 182? Not even though.
CVh: FIRST SONG THAT COMES TO MIND?
CVh: WHAT SONG DO YOU CRY TO IN THE SHOWER?
CO: Anything from Julien Baker or The Antlers, but never cry to music in the shower?
CVh: MOTOWN, TECHNO OR GARAGE ROCK
CO: Garage Rock.
Check out Ohly’s music here.