O Yuki Conjugate’s Andrew Hulme and Roger Horberry face the quick-fire question machine
Hello – where are you right now and what can you see?
RH: “At home in sunny York. The leaky drain needs fixing.”
AH: “A living room in London. A child is playing Aimblox, there’s a paused TV screen and a half-finished game of the hilariously named ‘Pandemic’.”
OYC are celebrating 40 years at the coalface this year – happy birthday!
RH: “Thank you. It feels longer.”
AH: “It’s been tough.”
That’s some landmark. How are you celebrating? Will there be cake?
RH: “That was for our 25th – the last time we made a fuss about birthdays – so maybe we’ll get lucky. There’s also the small matter of an album tentatively called ‘OYC40’ featuring all members past and present, but it’s early days.”
AH: “No cake. We’re watching our cholesterol.”
You were initially inspired by post-punk, weren’t you? What in particular?
RH: “It was clever and so varied. Every month there was something new from all over the country – but never Nottingham, our home town.”
AH: “The spirit of liberation, the idea that you had a right to make music whether you could play or not. The sheer adventurousness. It was brilliant.”
You’ve had some lengthy fallow periods – is that just life getting in the way?
AH: “We just naturally stopped making music as one incarnation ceased, then picked it up later when we found our passion for it again. In hindsight, it seems to have added diversity to the lonely furrow we’ve ploughed.”
The new album is a double, with writing divided in two. Is that a new way of working for you? Was it purely a matter of necessity?
RH: “In the first big lockdown, we were faced with the problem of what the fuck you do when you suddenly can’t meet. We made an album each.”
‘Vol 1’ is short tracks, ‘Vol 2’ is long tracks. Who tackled what?
RH: “It came naturally. I’d always wanted to do something like Eno’s ‘Music For Films’ – simple, single-theme sketches featuring melody of sorts. And Andrew had wanted to go deep.”
AH: “We’d already discussed the idea that Roger liked short pieces and
I like long ones. The situation meant we could realise this idea without being shackled to any greater notion of what the band should sound like.”
Your 1984 debut album ‘Scene In Mirage’ had two distinct sides. Do you feel like you’ve come full circle?
RH: “We’ve never been able to really land on what we are – it was always more than one thing – ambient, fourth world, industrial, electronic. So we do these distinct sides and embrace that.”
As ambient pioneers, do you feel like you get the credit you deserve?
RH: “That’s absolutely not for us to say. But now you mention it…”
AH: “I think we fill in the gap between Eno’s original idea and the point in the late 1980s when ambient turned into chill-out and gained acceptance.”
Are you happy with the “cult status” tag?
RH: “I bloody love it. Wilful obscurity is our defining feature.”
What’s next for you?
RH: “Back to gigging in Europe at long last, another ‘A Tension Of Opposites’ cassette, and ‘OYC40’. The fun never stops.”