There's Nothing Neutral About Ohrkid

There's Nothing Neutral About Ohrkid

Gender, pop idols, & birth cycles.

 

Ohrkid (they/them) is an underground independent songwriter fusing trip hop and dream pop. Based in Berlin, they released their debut album, PDA, in January.

What does “raise the female* voice” mean to you?

Men have dominated earth long enough! Females* and gnc people are only JUST beginning to be heard through the epidemic of patriarchy! There is so much more work to be done! The healing that will come, the beauty that will rise, the feelings that will have space, the radical transformation that will result, when we raise the female* voice! Even tasting this makes me shake and shiver. I want the wild feminine to be audible in every person. That’s how high my goals are. I am so proud to be a part of this project. Let’s amplify each other.

When did gender neutrality become a part of your life?

The questions have been in me as long as I can remember. And I’m still living the questions; I don’t have firm answers. But the deeper my understanding of feminism gets, the more expansive my understanding of gender. And the more I get to know my true self, the clearer this comes into focus for me personally. It was a revelation witnessing Alok Vaid-Menon perform “Watching You/ Watch Me” and “Femme In Public” when they performed in Berlin. And just listening... to my friends, clients, mentors, dreams, and myself, has shown me so much more to gender than the binary. At some point I realized the icky jolts I got when strangers assumed my gender and pronouns were dysphoria. It’s hard to try to take up space and ask people not to misname and misidentify me. Neutrality as a term makes me smile because there is nothing neutral about my personal gender. It can be quite extreme and playful.

 

There is nothing neutral about my personal gender.

This is your first release as Ohrkid. What made you decide now was the right time?

Well, to be honest, I was really mentally unwell and had no sense of self-worth for a long time before this! Pretty much as soon as I started to heal and see myself and the world more clearly, my soul was like, “alright start making your music now.” It’s funny, even when I was depressed, I was always saving money with this unacknowledged plan to make an album as soon as I could. Emotionally, though, even as I prepared for it, the challenges just seemed impossible to overcome. Once I was well enough, they weren’t. I just had to conquer fear after fear after fear and then, voila! The beginning of the rest of my life...A life of conquering fears, I suppose. Because every time one of my dreams becomes real, my dreams get bigger.

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Sometimes the biggest hurdle can be stepping into the recording studio. How did you get that process started?

Oo, yeah, I feel you! I knew I wanted to collaborate with Will Peterson from the band, Adore Adore (formerly known as Droves). Beyond being a disgustingly talented music maker, he happens to be one of my best friends. So the first step for me was working up the courage to ask if he’d be interested in collaborating. His yes was a huge confidence boost for me, and throughout the project, we kept the energy lowkey and very supportive. Our studio was his bedroom. When we felt overwhelmed and got tunnel vision, we went for walks by the canal and got tacos. Will is a vocalist, too, so he really understands the challenges of recording vocals and has insane patience for that process. On day two of recording for a song, when I was convinced I’d never get the takes and yelling obscenities into the mic, he was there making me laugh and reminding me it was ALL FINE. I am blessed to have taken this journey with a cherished friend. The beauty of my collaboration with Will gave me courage to approach other talented friends about collaborating, and the project unfolded from there.
 

Every time one of my dreams becomes real, my dreams get bigger.

You worked with Jo Eisley in Berlin for the Dick music video. How did you make that collaboration happen?

Jo Eisley! Oh man, her work just wrecks me. We met in Berlin while she was living here in 2016 and I knew she was an underground experimental filmmaker. She was living in a room with a projector, and I remember one night I asked her to show me some of her work. At the time, she was writing a program that makes images stutter and move according to music. When I saw her work, I was kind of speechless. I remember just (through a bit of drool) being like, “uhhhh I write songs and if I ever get my shit together to record and make a video, you are going to be the one to make it.” I suppose this is again a case of being blessed to collaborate with a dear friend. We were professional in our approach. We worked our asses off and stuck to all our deadlines. What came out is organic because there was respect between us and space to be our realest selves. We both live for our art, so we took it as far as our resources would allow. We used everything. We got stick on gems from a craft store and Jo used leftover glue from my fake eyelashes to glue them to my face. The eyelash glue was black, and you can see it caked on behind the gems in the close ups. She’s a magician. We had a tiny budget. We believed it into being.

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What was the most surprising moment of the shoot?

There was this one moment when we were shooting on the U Bahn (subway). I wanted to be sure to have a shot of me hanging upside down from the railing, because it was my fantasy. We were trying to quickly get it; Jo was shooting and my friend, Cecile, was holding up our red light. The train was moving and quite full and it was hectic. We’re playing the song on Jo’s speakers and I’m trying to lip sync while I’m hanging there. The three of us were so deeply concentrated on what we were doing, all huddled up there trying to keep the crowd out; we were in a world of our own. Nothing existed but that bubble. When we got it, Jo put the camera down and turned around, and everyone on the train was sitting there with their phones in the air, filming us. It was funny and eerie. I was happy to realize that living my fantasies solicited some “what a freak” gawking reactions, as well as possibly people assuming we might have been “real musicians.” I realized that day that I am, and doing the work is what makes me one.

I can’t do music at all. But I can kind of be it.

What’s it like to be an American living in Berlin right now?

It’s blissful! Berlin is one of the great loves of my life. Falling in love with this city honestly feels like that, sort of a soft burning secret that you take out of your brain to lick on when you lift off in airplanes. The thing that you privately relish having found, which makes your belly tingle at odd moments. There was (and is) a lot of death here, which gives way in places to new life. I love that moment of energetic composting and want to be a part of it.

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How has your work as a doula influenced your art?

The other day I went to throw at a ceramics studio in my neighborhood. I hadn’t thrown for a few years. It was the oddest thing, I was centering my clay, which had always been a hard process for me, and it was coming really easily. I was thinking, “what has changed in me in the past few years that makes centering easy?” And I thought about my birth work. The energy of birth can be really stormy--it’s nature taking a form which is far beyond human control, and it’s not about doing; it’s about being. This is how it works for me and music, I’ve realized. I can’t do music at all. But I can kind of be it. That kind of presence is something I have learned from birth.

Who’s one artist on your playlist we need to start following immediately, and why?

Yaeji. Because Raingurl!

The deeper my understanding of feminism gets, the more expansive my understanding of gender.

Ariana Grande makes a cameo on your playlist. How does mainstream pop influence your work?

In our vision talks, Will and I discussed the urge we have as musicians to deconstruct form and disrupt expectations. At the same time, we both love pop music! I aim to write music which is a treat to listen to, and is not too withholding towards listeners. Structures are orgasmic when they’re lovingly made and enthusiastically consented to. Mainstream pop music has a mastery of this which I strive to emulate. Good basics as a foundation help a song fly. Well made pop music nourishes our inner children and satisfies those beautiful child-like desires for sugar and just the right amount of predictability. And as far as Ariana Grande goes, she is one of my greatest inspirations as a vocalist! I adore her music.

I have to know...orchids. Your spirit flower? Tell us more!

I had a dream in which my album cover was a 2D outline of a dripping orchid. (Sonnie Kozlover is the brilliant illustrator who ultimately executed this vision.) A mentor from New Zealand once shared with me that in the indigenous Maori tradition, orchids contain energy from the stars. Orchids. They’re amazing aliens from outer space and they’re vulvas and clitorises and they inspire me and when I see them, I want to lick them.


Ohrkid's Charity of the Week

Village Birth International improves birth conditions and provides resources to maternity care providers and parents in Uganda. Aimee Brill, the founder, is a dear friend; she conducts this work with the utmost integrity and heart, constantly working and reworking her approach to allyship and seeking to decolonize birth.