Interview: Wuh Oh – 'The name, to me, represents the magic that comes from the happy accidents'
Sample-master and producer talks mistakes, inspiration and living in Glasgow
Wuh Oh, aka Peter Ferguson, creates catchy layered, sample-soaked tunes. We caught up with him to chat about his work.
Where did the name Wuh Oh come from?
The last track on my first EP has a sample of a wee kid saying ‘wuh oh!’ towards the end. When I was looking for an alias that suited what I do, my producer friend Sega Bodega suggested I name myself after that. The name made perfect sense to me, as most of my favourite things that I’ve written have been the result of a mistake, be it whilst playing the piano or chopping up a sample or whatever. The name ‘Wuh Oh’, to me, represents the magic that comes from the happy accidents, the music that I could never intentionally create.
When did you start making music?
My parents bought me a Yamaha keyboard when I was 10 and it had a function that let me create little songs by recording up to four layers of music. I became so obsessed with it, but started getting upset because the keyboard could only save five songs, forcing me to keep deleting old music to make room for the new stuff. Then I got a 4-track digital recorder, which let me start recording my music more freely. I joined a synth-pop group and a three-piece rock band in my teens but, being the control freak that I am, I eventually returned to making music entirely by myself. By 16, my chiptune compositions had been played on Radio 1 and I’d been interviewed by Annie Mac, but I got lonely doing the solo stuff in a small town where no one else was doing what I was doing. After moving to Glasgow for university, I met a lovely group of producers to make music around and suddenly didn’t feel as alone any more. Twelve years into of making music of all sorts, it becomes challenging to surprise yourself, hence my intense love of the little ‘wuh oh’ moments along the way.
Who do you count among your inspirations?
Belle & Sebastian were my first favourite band and I think they’ve massively influenced my taste in melody and harmony, along with bands like Frightened Rabbit and Neutral Milk Hotel. I also envy Ben Folds’ ability to make bum notes sound right because his piano playing’s so spirited, jazzy and technically impressive otherwise. In terms of beat-making, producers like The Neptunes and Timbaland inspire me in their ability to make stuff that’s so left-field yet catchy and immediate. Also, Daft Punk’s way of channelling the power of repetition on their early albums has always been fascinating to me. Right now Joanna Newsom’s weird pop music blows my mind. Seeing the rise of the LuckyMe and Numbers crews (both from Glasgow) made me realise the kind of success that could be within my reach in production, provided I put myself out there and work hard enough.
How does living in Glasgow inspire your work?
Lots of the music that inspires me comes from Glasgow and because of that I always wanted to move here. It still feels like this magical alternate reality for me even after five years of living here, potentially because it’s the first place I’ve lived that wasn’t my family home, so I still associate it with freedom and possibility. The experimental electronic music scene that I’ve managed to get involved in has really helped me push myself creatively as I want to impress the producers and promoters in my friend circle and make music we can party or chill out to.
You use a lot of interesting samples in your music
One of the samples I’m happiest with so far is that of the drums and voice I used in 'Trippin'. They’re from a tutorial video by a fantastic drummer called Bernard Purdie, teaching people how to play his trademark 'Purdie Shuffle'. He’s such a charismatic guy and I love his playing style, so it felt right that he should guide people through a song. My song 'Stay Tuned' [https://soundcloud.com/wuh-oh/stay-tuned] is basically five seconds or so of a jazz fusion song spread out over three minutes, pitch shifted and chopped up and rearranged. I don’t usually actively look out for samples, but when you hear five seconds of music that clearly deserves to be a whole track, it’s hard to resist trying to make that happen.
Your first EP was released as 'pay what you want' – why did you choose this over, for example, free?
I wanted as many people to have access to my music as possible. If anything the ‘pay what you want’ thing was annoying as it might have put people off who felt guilty paying nothing to download it, but that’s just the way the website I sold it through handled things. Saying that, with ‘the pay as you want’ feature, you’ve always got the chance of an eccentric millionaire coming along who wants to give you their fortune.
What have you got coming up in the future?
My musical partner, Arm Watches Fingers and I are planning on putting out a split EP (half his music and half mine) in the next couple of months. We made music together for about a year before opting to work more individually and I think this split EP will be a fun way to highlight our creative similarities and differences. I’ve had a few other exciting gig offers which I’ll be announcing soon, but most of all I just want to expand my online catalogue to make hunting out my music as worthwhile as possible for those people who take the time to find me. So yeah, loads more tunes coming soon. I have so many I need to get out of my system.