We chat to the Melbourne singer-songwriter about his new album, Ohmage.
Leo Sayer was just a boy back when he sang about the humble ‘One Man Band’ in 1974.
Since then, the single-member band arrangement has lived long and become somewhat of a guessing game in recent times with many solo artists hiding under the guise of a multi-member facade.
Kevin Parker had us fooled for years that Tame Impala was a five-piece band, while the seemingly-broader Bon Iver is just the sole project of Justin Vernon. Then there’s James Murphy, the whimsical songwriter at the heart of LCD Soundsystem.
Following in their footsteps is Melbourne’s Eddie Casper. While he uses his birth name as his artist name, his larger-than-life arrangements lead you to believe there are more members at play.
His 2017 debut LP It’s No Secret was his first attempt at a self-sufficient album, and as he arrives with his second serving – the 15-track, 78-minute palette of indie rock, dream pop, progressive rock, and psychedelia titled Ohmage – Casper again drives in solitude.
What’s striking is the number of instruments on the record. Casper assumes the typical rock requirements of guitar, bass, drums, vocals and even piano but also performs xylophone, glockenspiel, timpani, double bass, mandolin, flute, and the trusty recorder.
Each instrument Casper performs on Ohmage is the product of self-teaching – no multi-disciplinary background, not even the primary school ‘Hot Cross Buns’ recorder rite of passage appears on the music connoisseur’s educational history.
“I never learnt recorder in primary school. I never got that experience so maybe this is just me making up for the lack of recorder in my life,” Casper laughs.
“I actually taught myself piano when I was about twelve years old because we had this family upright piano in our living room and no one in my house played music, not even my parents.
“By the time I started grasping simple piano songs I got a bit bored because I can never commit to mastering one skill,” Caspar continues.
“By the time I’m sort of adequate at it I’ll jump to something different and I decided to then learn guitar after that. I moved onto bass and then wanted to learn drums but mum and dad wouldn’t let me have a drumkit in the house so I learnt by arranging pillows on the bed into a drumkit and smacking my hands on them.”
Caspar’s keenness for self-education surfaces in a multiple of ways through his solo project. Firstly, his theatrical and cinematic essence was born out of curiosity, stemming from his formative years of personal discovery.
“I just really love music from a young age. I would get headphones and listen to albums in their entirety. Some of my favourites would be Smashing Pumpkins and [their album] Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,” Caspar says.
“As a teenager, I just loved the scope of that album because it had an entire orchestra on it and jumped from soft songs to really rocky songs and was an amazing journey. And that’s what I wanted to do with Ohmage; to take listeners on a really immersive musical experience.”
Contextually, Ohmage also draws from Casper’s inner-learnings and new experiences such as falling in love for the first time and his first heartbreak. This is evident on the album’s lead single, ‘She’s Got So Many Faces’.
“I was overwhelmed with this view of life, coming out of being a teenager with this narrow-minded view of the world and how everything works and being in this tiny little Melbourne bubble,” Caspar concludes.
“With this album, I definitely felt engulfed by the new experiences and I really wanted to channel that as much as I could into the songs. In some ways, I think this album is a soundtrack of my life over the past three years.”
Never miss a story. Sign up to Beat’s newsletter and you’ll be served fresh music, arts, food and culture stories three times a week.