O. Share new single + video ‘Micro’

O. press photo
Press shot credit: Holly Whitaker

O. – the London-based duo of baritone saxophonist Joe Henwood and drummer Tash Keary – have shared a new single titled Micro. The track is lifted from their upcoming debut album ‘WeirdOs,’ which was announced earlier this year and is due out June 21 via Speedy Wunderground.

Honing their fearless sound through a residency at Brixton’s iconic venue The Windmill, as well as on support slots across the UK and Europe with fellow heavyweights black midi and Gilla Band, O. have now distilled their unique live energy into their debut album, ‘WeirdOs’. Coming hot on the heels of last November’s debut EP ‘Slice’ – which won enthusiastic support from DIY, Dork, NME, Louder, and Rough Trade – and once again featuring production from Dan Carey, ‘WeirdOs’ is Tash and Joe at their most raucous and free. Across 10 tracks of high-octane instrumentals recorded live to tape, the duo encompasses everything from cathartic dancefloor drops, to intricate jazz lines, and sludgy, menacing doom metal.

Following on the heels of their lead single Green Shirt, which was given its first play on Mary Anne Hobbs’ BBC Radio 6 Music show, and their recent dancefloor banger 176, Micro showcases more of the band’s electronic influences. Combining junglist breakbeats with corrogated sub-bass leaning sax lines that warp and flex around Tash’s high-octane rhythms.

Watch the video for Micro via YouTube below or stream the track via all platforms here

Going on to speak about the album, the band says, “WeirdOs is a dark, heavy album based around our love of riffy basslines, blast beats, dub, noise, and all the weird sounds in between. It was recorded live across 2 weeks in the studio with Dan Carey and aims to replicate the feeling of being at one of our gigs.”

The band also recently announced a run of EU / UK live dates. The dates come on the heels of the band’s successful first US shows and include appearances at WOMAD Festival, The Great Escape Festival, Deer Shed Festival, Manchester and Edinburgh Psych Festivals, and more. The band will also play an in-store gig and signing at Rough Trade East on June 24th – tickets are available here.

Full dates are as follows:

24/05 Levitation, Angers
25/05 Pelpass Festival, Strasbourg
08/06 Light Years Festival, Newcastle
09/06 The Crescent, York
14/07 Valkhof Festival, Nijmegen
18/07 Dour Festival, Dour
26/07 Cornish Bank Summer Camp, Falmouth
27/07 WOMAD Festival, Malmesbury
28/07 Deer Shed Festival, Topcliffe
08/08 Winterthurer Musikfestwochen, Winterthur
29/08 Into the Great Wide Open, Vlieland
31/08 Manchester Psych Fest, Manchester
01/09 Edinburgh Psych Fest, Edinburgh
02/09 The Rum Shack, Glasgow
04/09 Rich Mix, London
05/09 Where Else?, Margate
06/09 Rough Trade, Bristol
17/09 Aeronef, Lille
18/09 Point Ephemere, Paris
20/09 Reeperbahn, Hamburg
21/09 Schokoladen, Berlin
24/09 Doka, Amsterdam
25/09 Botanique, Brussels

Tickets are on sale here.

Few things compare to the experience of watching O. live. Featuring the immense, vibrational bass-weight of Joe Henwood’s baritone saxophone played through his array of dub and distortion pedals, as well as the blisteringly precise yet expressively fierce drumming of Tash Keary, the South London duo’s shows are an assault of sound. With only two instruments, O. encompass everything from the euphoria of the dancefloor to the earworming hooks of memorable melodies. Theirs is an infectious, irrepressible music.

“We’re just two people making a big sound, unafraid to give it our all when we play,” Joe says. “We’re interested in taking it to the limit – it’s something that comes naturally to us.”

“The album name is inspired by people coming up to us after shows and saying, ‘this feels like music for weirdos,’” Tash laughs. “We listen and jam to lots of different styles of music and it all filters through naturally in our sound – we’re just expressing ourselves.”

Tash first took to the drums as a shy nine-year-old, channelling its monolithic sound as a means of self-expression. As the only musician in the family, music never seemed like anything other than a hobby, but after joining grassroots music organisation Tomorrow’s Warriors in 2018 and becoming part of their Female Frontline band, she found herself embedded in London’s burgeoning jazz scene. At the same time, Joe was building his reputation as a key player in the capital, after spending a decade with afro-jazz outfit Nubiyan Twist.

Manoeuvring around similar scenes, the pair finally met after being hired for the same gig in 2019 and noticed an immediate chemistry. “I felt a real connection playing with Tash,” Joe says. “We shared the same mentality of telling a musical story, rather than just shredding technical ideas.”

They resolved to keep jamming together and once the Covid lockdowns hit in 2020 and all gigs were pulled, they finally found the time. “We joined up as a ‘bubble’ and spent pretty much every day improvising with each other for months,” Tash says. “We would play along to tracks we liked and talk about our influences, from Deftones to A Tribe Called Quest, Radiohead and Floating Points. We became really excited about introducing each other to music and rekindling our love of finding new music as kids.”

Harnessing that childlike enthusiasm allowed the duo to move away from the jazz music they had been playing and to reconnect with their first loves of heavier, noisier sounds. For Joe, that meant revisiting his first experience of seeing legendary experimental British saxophonist Pete Wareham play with his Acoustic Ladyland band as a teenager and witnessing the electronic wizardry that could emerge from processing a horn through a pedal board. While for Tash, it meant smashing through the backbeat of rock tracks, letting her hands fly over the drum kit and cymbals.

Settling on the initial band name Toe – as an elision of their names – before changing to O. to avoid confusion with the Japanese post-rock group Toe, Tash and Joe began playing their first shows, which were restricted to pandemic livestreams. “We tested our neighbours’ patience,” Tash says. “Until our third show got booked, which was at The Windmill.”

Transforming seamlessly from living room jams into the sweaty, packed confines of The Windmill, the band soon caught the attention of venue booker Tim Perry, who was taken by their capacity to produce such an intense flow with so few instruments. “We call him our Fairy Godfather because he gave us a residency at a venue where we could really hone our sound to a live audience,” Joe says. “Then he asked if we wanted to go on tour with black midi.”

Following the experimental trio on 25 dates across the UK and Europe in 2021 and 2022, it was here that O. drilled down to the essence of their onstage presence. “We were so inspired by the playfulness black midi shared onstage and it gave us confidence to get darker and heavier in our sound,” Tash says. “We also really built our stamina to be able to play fast and hard with just the two of us for a full hour.”

Flexing those live muscles further on tour with Irish post-punk group Gilla Band, O. were then introduced to black midi’s producer Dan Carey and quickly began work on what would become their debut EP, “SLICE”. “Dan had been to see us play a lot and he just wanted us to recreate the raw energy of being on stage in the studio,” Joe says. “It’s such a full, bassy sound and Dan simply allows us to play the music.”

Finding freedom in Carey’s intuitive, analogue process, 2023’s SLICE produced five tracks of propulsive instrumentals, from the endless crescendo of “Moon” to the synth pedal distortions of “Grouchy” and jump-up blasts of “ATM”. “Slice is a snapshot of different sides of the band, it’s a playful taster,”Tash says. “Whereas with the album, we’re getting louder and more intense, experimenting with noise and our metal influences. It’s a full, freeing force.”

Indeed, “WeirdOs” is O. fully embracing all aspects of their newfound expression. Their songs are honed through sprawling, improvised jams but this isn’t jazz – instead, it’s finely-crafted music channelling massive energy to make listeners feel everything from the moshpit chaos of an electronic drop to the languorous sway of dub dilations. With their first trip to the US completed for SXSW and plans for their largest UK tour to date currently taking form, O.’s unstoppable live sound will soon be coming to a speaker stack or live stage near you. “It’s total freedom,” Joe says. “Two people taking every risk.” Listen and revel in the madness.

WeirdOs cover artwork

‘WeirdOs’ track list

1. Intro

2. 176

3. TV Dinners

4. Wheezy

5. Micro

6. Cosmo

7. Green Shirt

8. Whammy

9. Sugarfish

10. Slap Juice

‘WeirdOs’ is out June 21st via Speedy Wunderground – Pre-order here

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