Ambitious. Delicate. Heart-breaking. These are some of the words used to describe Oh Pep!’s debut record, a reminiscent and folk-inspired waning of horns, pianos and readily scattered drums. Through Stadium Cake’s inception, the record hallmarked itself as a new step towards the themes and ideas that resonated with Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs songwriting; their exploration a dedication to pop and all it’s flexible passageways. Since meeting in Melbourne during their high school years, their creative growth and comfort within each other is sonically clear, each of the twelve tracks feverishly challenging and twisting to their latest uptempo. Discussing the early stages of their recording and what drove them creatively, Oh Pep! open up about the juxtapositions that made Stadium Cake.
How does the album making process begin for Oh Pep!?
Liv: Most of the songs on Stadium Cake were written in the 2 years prior to recording it and similar themes resonated throughout. It is very telling of that part of our growing up and figuring life out.
Pep: Before Stadium Cake we released three EP’s. Having the experience of making them before we went in to make a full length helped our process a lot. We really knew what we wanted and went in with that attitude.
What were the driving forces behind Stadium Cake?
Liv: I think it was our ‘no boundaries’ attitude towards genre, instrumentation and lyrics. That’s what fuels our songwriting and it led us to our record that is full of juxtapositions. Happy-sounding songs with sad words.
Pep: We were also ready to fully embrace our pop side. We always knew we were writing pop songs, so felt it was the time to put it down to record.
Where did you record the album and why did you choose that location?
Liv: It was more the producer that we chose than the location. It just happened that Daniel Ledwell worked from a place that set a great tone for our record. We were out near Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I would say it had this surreal ‘Twin Peaks’ element to it. The studio was located next to a lake, so that didn’t hurt either, considering how much we love swimming.
Favourite song title from the release and how did the title come about?
Liv: Only Everyone, probably. Those words standing alone have a bit of sass about them. The tune came about as a pick-me-up for Pep, but it was written as a joke, and it was sung like a Merle Haggard tune. We jammed it out and it’s very different now. The title was the most obvious choice.
Pep: For me, it has to be Doctor Doctor. Liv brought most of the songs to the table one day and I couldn’t hear it… so she finished it by herself. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After a few tries at arranging it, the song became our first album single. Sometimes the simplest of songs can be the best.
What were the challenges you faced while making the album?
Liv: The creative process was quite easy. I think that was a result of working with Dan. He had a very easy-going attitude. We put a lot of energy into getting to the other side of the world twice (we recorded over two sessions), but it was all worth it.
How long did it take to make the record from inception to mastering?
Liv: The first song that was written for the album in 2012, and Stadium Cake was finished in 2016. Actively working on the album process was more like 12-18 months.
How do you feel your producer Daniel Ledwell contributed to your record?
Liv: Dan really encouraged us to embrace our pop side and brought a lot of new sounds to our attention.
Pep: He made all the sounds we had in our heads super accessible, like sample drums and effects. All we needed to do was say the word and he could make it happen.
Who was the first person to hear your finish album in its entirety?
Liv: Other than Dan and our manager, I showed my family and that was it really.
Pep: I played it to my dog.
At what stage of the process do you start considering the album artwork?
Liv: Pep has done our illustrations from the get-go and we’ve both been pretty active on the aesthetic overall. We knew that we were going to go down that road again, but using more colour than we had used before.
Pep: We had previously used single images with only one colour for the EPs. If you look closely at the cover art for Stadium Cake there are a lot of images stuck together using many colours. It symbolises the culmination of everything (our EP’s and everything up until this point), which the album is for us.
How many different album titles were under consideration?
Liv: It was just the one. We decided we were going to call our first album Stadium Cake in 2010 and stuck by our word.
Pep: It made lots of sense to us, even six years later. Stadium and Cake are two familiar words that sound unfamiliar when you put them together. You don’t quite know what to think of them.
Favourite moment/s in the studio?
Liv: The album was recorded one track at a time. After all the tracks were laid down, Pep and I swam across the entirety of the lake that was by the studio. Half-way across, we wondered if we would make it to the other side, but we did. We made it back, too (obviously). It was all a bit symbolic.
If you could describe your record in three words, how would you describe it?
Pep: … Considered…
Liv: … Lush
Stadium Cake is out now via Barely Dressed / Remote Control Records.