Somewhere in Belfast live two musical genius types with their nerdy ways and multi-keyboards to hand. They fill the Northern Ireland skies with their magic music and it travels along throughout the world, including into my London home. I had to speak to Shaun, one half of the duo, Oppenheimer, as their music has found a place in my heart.
SoundsXP: According to my extensive research you're not named after the father of the atom bomb? It's not an everyday name though right? Something must have triggered it?
Shaun: It was a surname that I've heard a couple of times over the years and I think it's brilliant. My surname is decidely average - Robinson. When myself and Rocky were coming up with names to call our band every new band in Belfast was "The ......'s" so we decided to go with a one word name.
SoundsXP: There's only two of you and yet your music has such an incredible and rich sound. How can this be?
Shaun: When it actually comes down to it we're just two geeks with too many keyboards, a fancy computer and we love to layer and layer and layer. Every song on the new album has a minimum of 80 or so layers.
SoundsXP: Do you get on well? You must, as there's only two of you so there's nobody else to hide behind! You formed from a previous band that you were both together in though right?
Shaun: That's not tecnically correct. I played in a band called 'Torgas Valley Reds' and Rocky did live sound and recording for us. Myself and Rocky formed Oppenheimer about 8 months before Torgas Vally Reds split up and by that time Rocky was also in the band on synth duties.
SoundsXP: I'm addicted to 'This is not a test'. I'm never going to recover from it. Are you aware of how infectious your music is, Shaun? Are you addicted to any songs?
Shaun: Why thank you. You're too kind. At the moment I'm addicted to 'Let's Get Lost' by Chet Baker and 'Six Pianos' by Steve Reich.
SoundsXP: Tell me about your new album 'Take the whole mid-range and boost it'. Apart from its fantastic title why should I buy it? Any favourites on there for you?
Shaun: I think you should buy it because I think that it does not sound like anything out at the moment. Also, get it to get lost in the layers. All you have to do is listen hard enough...
SoundsXP: Who crashed the car on the way to that Dublin instore gig? Apart from that, what has been your worst gig experience to date and why?
Shaun: I would not like to say who crashed the car but it was not myself or Rocky! Our worst gig ever was in Manchester, England last year. Speakers were blown out, intros were missed, too much beer was consumed. A terrible gig for anyone in the audience.
SoundsXP: And what has been your best live experience? The one that makes you smile in a smug way to yourself, even on a bad day.
Shaun: We played a gig in Derry, Ireland last week and it was fantastic. A beautiful audience who were up for good times. I think it stands out at the moment as my favourite gig of all time.
SoundsXP: I used to love the tv series, 'Ugly Betty'. Did one of your songs really feature in an episode? I think that's quite exciting. Don't you? And the real question is if you had to choose between an ugly, lovely person or gorgeous, nasty person who would you go for...that wasn't the real question...but i'm kind of curious to know the answer now...
Shaun: Firstly, yes, 'This Is Not a Test' was used at the end of an episode of Ugly Betty.
To answer the second question I'd need to know what I'm choosing them for.....
SoundsXP: You've toured America a lot. Do they love you? They do, don't they? And how was SXSW? It was awhile back now but i'm nosy and didn't get the chance to ask you at the time.
Shaun: I believe the Yanks think we're alright. SXSW was a blast this year. Not as many shows to play and the actual chance to go and catch some live music instead of driving like a maniac to the next venue!
SoundsXP: You grew up in Northern Ireland right? How has that shaped you and made you the person who you are today?
Shaun: I was brought up to believe that the 3 magic words are 'Please', 'Thank you' and 'Sorry'. I know that's technically 4 words but you get my drift, right? I think growing up in Northern Ireland has also made me realise that there's nothing worse in life than a bigot and that organised religions seem to cause more problems than the solutions they so readily preach. Religion must go.
SoundsXP: Who/what influences you? Who do you secretly want to be?
Shaun: Movies, books, things I overhear. I don't think I actually want to be anyone else.
SoundsXP: If you could only watch one film for the rest of your life what would it be?
Shaun: Difficult question. Today's answer will be 'Mullholland Drive' by David Lynch.
SoundsXP: Do you think that you'll ever do a version of 'Video killed the radio star' for me? Do you think Video was guilty of that crime? Who do you think will kill the Video star? Have Dvds already carried out that crime? Perhaps you could do 'Dvd's killed the video star' for me? (Dear God, i'm waffling now)
Shaun: No, but I can see us doing a version of 'The Heat Is On' by Glenn Frey. Reality TV killed the radio star.
SoundsXP: Are Oppenheimer doing any festivals this year?
Shaun: Yes! Belsonic, Oxegen, Electric Picnic and Glasgowbury. All of these are in Ireland.
SoundsXP: Where next for you dynamic duo? How are you going to save the music world?
Shaun: We're busting to start recording new material! We will save world music by strategy. What that strategy is, is yet to be decided!
I think that the strategy is to do a version of 'The heat is on' to begin with and go on from there. While we wait for that momentous occassion we can pacify ourselves with 'Take the whole mid-range and boost it' (available in all good music shops)