VOSH was built to explore an amalgam of influences that range from Bauhaus to early Ministry to Sisters of Mercy to Zounds to Killing Joke to latter day titans Nine Inch Nails. And while a wide reaching and generic term such as “synth pop” or “darkwave” could be applied to the effort in broad strokes, the drama, intensity and excellent song writing evokes something much deeper, more sinister, and darkly beautiful. Recently we had a talk with both vocalist Josephine Olivia and drummer Chris Moore from the band, and they shared their experiences and the new album Vessel, and much more.
First off, amazing band. We’re really stoked by your sound and overall aesthetic. How did this project get started? What is VOSH in your eyes?
Chris: Thank you! We started in 2018 under the name Aertex. At the time the line-up was myself, Josie, and Carson Cox. I was talking to Steve from Technophobia that we had started playing together and he was like “hey you should play my fest, Tiny Cat at the Black Cat”. We didn’t really have “songs” at that point. We were kind of just fucking around and that first show in DC was mostly improvised. In 2019 we put out a demo tape and started playing more shows. At some point before the pandemic, Carson left the band and moved back to Florida. We continued writing, demoing songs, and playing shows. The pandemic happened and Josie and I locked ourselves away and started writing more. Vosh has always been a cathartic outlet for us. We are constantly trying to take ourselves out of our comfort zone and explore new terrains. Most of our other projects have felt limited in one way or another. For VOSH, it feels like there is no limit to what we can create.
We hear all kinds of influences – from metal, to classic rock, darkwave – where do you draw inspiration?
Chris: Honestly, we draw our inspiration from everywhere haha. It’s easy to say that we are influenced by bands like Killing Joke, Ministry, Zounds, Sisters of Mercy… but we are equally inspired by Portishead, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Three 6, Tears for Fears, Billie Holiday, Venom, etc. I think it’s easy to paint a band into a corner based on their “influences” but we are constantly being inspired and blown away by art and music.
The music video of “Pray” is gorgeously shot and the colors —the red and black — highly memorable. Who’d you work with to bring this fever dream to life?
Josephine: Danny Siebenhaar (Seven Hare Productions) is a good friend and based out of Baltimore. He is an incredible photographer and videographer. He has helped us bring VOSH to life through visuals many times now. You can find his work all over Baltimore and beyond. Follow @7hares for more of his gorgeous work. Miriam Ault is our go to makeup artist for our shoots (also Baltimore based). Teena Breanne worked hair on this vid (a wonderful Baltimore stylist). And Leah Taylor (owner of smoke & mirrors Baltimore ) is our other go to hair person for photos and vids. We filmed it at Ottobar, which feels like a second home to us sometimes! They are the best. Tecla Tesnau is the owner, and has created such a wonderful, safe place to explore the inner freak.
We’ve heard a sneak preview of your full album Vessel, which drops March 3rd through Brooklyn’s Trash Casual, and it’s excellent. Where was it recorded, who with, how long did it take to track and mix?
Josephine: Thanks so much! We actually recorded most of it at our home (Chris and i) over the pandemic. We set up a little studio with the equipment we had, and locked ourselves away making music, which really helped us mentally over the lockdown. We then brought what we had to Developing Nations studio (Kevin Bernsten) in Baltimore and tracked guitar, mixed, and smoothed it all out together.
Chris: The whole album was a real experiment. Neither of us really record stuff outside of demos so it was a fun and equally frustrating learning process. Recording some of Pat’s guitar parts in his garage, in the winter, with the door open, masks on and “social distancing” was an experience haha. Doing everything at home really gave us time to fuck around but also was anxiety inducing at times. I’m a live sound engineer, so I was able to apply some of that knowledge to this process but recording is so different. I’m eternally grateful to all the friends I punished with shitty demos and recording questions. I’ve recorded and mixed with Kevin more times than I can count so having him at our side as we put the finishing touches on this record was huge. After hearing the songs a million times, it’s nice to have someone say “that sucks”, “maybe EQ that differently”, etc. The record of course features Carson (who we are going to teleport back to DC one of these days), Tim Mullaney from Genocide Pact, and the infamous Kurt Ballou on sax. Mastering was done by Magnus Lindberg (Tribulation, Lucifer, etc) in Sweden and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome.
How was the overall experience for all of you?
Josephine: It was great. I think Chris and I both enjoy a more DIY approach to things because there’s a level of control when you’re the one behind the wheel. Kevin is also an incredibly talented engineer, and the entire experience felt very natural and fun.
Chris: The last piece to this puzzle was seeing if we could find anyone to put it out. We eventually landed on self releasing it with the help of AJ at Trash Casual. Seriously, we can’t thank him enough for the kick in the pants and help through this process.
Your upcoming tour with Clan of Xymox or The Bellwether Syndicate is gonna be sick! Have you toured with either of those bands prior?
Josephine: Not specifically with either of them! I have played a couple of one off shows with Clan of Xymox & Bellwether over the years, but this will be the first time we all go out together. This tour was meant to happen last year but was postponed. We are really looking forward to hitting the road with them.
Chris: It’s a true honor to tour with these two. We’ve been Xymox fans for a while, so this is a big deal for us.
What are you looking forward to the most while on the road?
Josephine: We are so excited to connect with old friends and meet new ones! It’s great to be thrown out into the world, breaking up the normal routine to do the thing you love most. Performing is so cathartic for us all, so we are just happy to get to do it night after night. Also trying new local food is a plus!
Chris: Shows, friends, vegan food, and getting the fuck out of town for a bit!
Lastly, from what we’ve seen, the members of VOSH are sporting some TOP-NOTCH tattoos. And much of our audience is inked. Who are some of your favorite artists? Free to shout them out!
Josephine: I love Andrew Vidakovich @ Stay Humble in Baltimore. He’s extremely skilled and great to work with. Also Chris Lockhart (used to work out of NYC) is amazing.
Chris: Besides a Thin Lizzy tattoo, most of mine are of woodblock prints that my great grandfather and grandmother made. I have really loved getting tattooed by Shawn Brown, Tamara Santibañez, Mike Tommyrot and so many others.
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Photo courtesy of VOSH