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ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE-2


ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE “Paging Doctor Space…” 

By Dark Starr

You might know him as "Doctor Space" or "Scott Heller," but the space rock wizard is probably best known as the central mastermind behind the improv space juggernaut that is Øresund Space Collective. He's definitely not content to just express himself with that project, though. He's been involved with a number of other projects. I got the chance to pose some questions to him in December about topics ranging from his various musical outputs, the impact the Covid pandemic has had on creating improvised music and much more.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: It's been close to three years since we've done an interview with you. What's new in the world of Scott Heller? 

SCOTT HELLER: Thanks for this opportunity… Well, this has been a year like no other with the Covid lock-down. I played 43 concerts in 11 different countries last year and 0 concerts this year, if you exclude the live one I did from home for Roadburn Festival (youtube.com/watch?v=yyWXzxMTawU).  I usually travel to Denmark, Sweden, Norway every year to meet with the bands that I play with (ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE and BLACK MOON CIRCLE). So this year I have focused on developing my synthesizer, mixing and gardening skill.  I mixed “On Trial - Roadburn 2007” for Roadburn Records, Astral Magic LP (new Finnish project by my friend Santtu and due out on Space Rock Productions), and two ØSC albums from archive material from 2007 and 2010. I have also been involved with lots of new collaborations, finishing old ones and trying to build a real studio at my house (lots of frustrations).  Non-music related, I am still working on my book and doing a lot of organic gardening. We had a great harvest of chiles and olives this year!

WC: You release music under several different monikers, ØSC, DOCTOR SPACE and recently DOCTORS OF SPACE. I'm not sure if I've missed any? Is there are grand scheme for what name something is released under?

SH:  There are a few others. Normally, BLACK MOON CIRCLE, the space rock band from Norway that I play with would have at least one record out, but we could never meet or play shows this year so we have been working from a distance.  We have seven tracks recorded for a new album, which will feature Tomas the drummer from MOTORPSYCHO. I just need to do my synth parts again, and then the LP will be mixed and released next year.  DOCTORS OF SPACE, a duo with Martin Weaver (WICKED LADY, DARK fame) is my main act as we can meet and jam in his studio, so we have recorded a lot of stuff this year and released our first album as well .  We will have a few releases next year for sure. 

Earlier this year, I released an album with Matt Couto (ex-ELDER drummer) called "Aural Hallucinations."  This was a more trippy experimental music LP, but we are both really proud of it.  We self-released it on CD, tape and LP. I hand painted all the 150 LP covers, so it is quite special. I also recorded some synthesizers on two tracks for the psychedelic rock-bluegrass band from Finland called "DARK BOTTLE." My first solo CD, “Scorpoodledoo” was released in early summer, and I followed this up with my first vinyl solo album, “Nykawana” (also on CD) in the summer. I have two more solo CDs completed that will be released next year. I will possibly put them out on vinyl as well in only 100 copies.  I also recorded some music for a US band called PERHAPS and “Dr Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol 5” is also finished for release next year.  Also, the LP I made with the Finnish band, ALBINÖ RHINO, will finally come out next year after four years of waiting. Finally, looks like 3RD EAR EXPERIENCE and I will collaborate on another album next year. I sure hope so. 

As for the last question, I keep busy with a lot of interesting projects and usually accept offers of collaboration, but when it comes down to what I am laying down in the studio, the more experimental pieces are usually sent to Matt or Martin to see what we might make of them.  There are some pieces that are clearly just going to be solo material and other material I create with the idea to collaborate with specific guitar players or bass. In the case of this year's, “Dr Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol 4 - Space with Bass”, Hasse (TANGLE EDGE) has become like a producer working with me to help me polish and challenge my tracks and skills in many cases. He is one of the most brilliant bass players on the planet.


WC:Your music is generally improvised, essentially live performances, even when you do them in the studio. The pandemic has thrown some real issues in the way of music creation, but it seems that for the kind of thing you do, it's probably even more of an issue. I mean, you can likely do that kind of thing via Zoom or some similar platform, but I can't see how that would really work - given lag times, questionable audio and a whole host of other technical issues. How have you been adapting, or has creation of new material been postponed?

SH: Well, the pandemic has totally screwed up all our planned concerts this year and probably most of next year, as well.  We have not done any live things via Facebook, Instagram or Zoom as I am in Portugal and besides DOCTORS OF SPACE, everyone else is far away, so this has just not been possible this year.  Where I live in the rural countryside our Internet is not that stable (no 4G, no fiber net), so it would be risky for me to try to do a live performance. As I mentioned early, I did perform a special show for Roadburn Festival in April on the weekend when the festival was supposed to happen but due to the risk of bad internet, I pre-recorded the show and uploaded it to go live at specific time on Youtube, just to make sure it happened properly and there would be no problems with bad internet, time delays, etc..   If things here in Portugal had run normally, my studio should have been built by now, and I could have had the band down to record new material. But everything that can go wrong seems to, with problems with design, permits, the first builder had to be fired, etcetera.. It will get done but it has been very frustrating. 2021… Please…

WC:What's ahead for you?

SH: I hope we can all get vaccinated in early 2021, and live music will return. ØSC are supposed to play in the UK at the Liverpool Psych Fest in April (not sure what will happen with Brexit, as well), Esbjerg Fuzz Fest in Denmark in May, Cressando Prog Fest in August in France and a few other gigs, but again, 2021 is pretty uncertain how, and if, live music will be possible.  There will be lots of new releases for 2021, that is for sure. I mentioned quite a few above – BLACK MOON CIRCLE, DOCTORS OF SPACE, at least two new DR. SPACE releases, “Dr Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol 5”, ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE - “Oily Echo of the Soul” (archive material from 2010), ALBINÖ RHINO, and I am sure others..  I am also running a fundraiser to raise some funds for my music studio where I am selling some rare test pressings and have created two special fundraiser CDs (one ØSC rare tracks and another of miscellaneous bands with tracks that I have played on including- AGUSA, AUTOMATON, WHITE HILLS, BISMUT, YURI GAGARIN, MANESKJOLD, PHASED….).   I also hope to finally get my music studio built! indiegogo.com/projects/help-me-to-build-a-music-studio—2/x/23055488

WC: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

SH: Last CD I bought was the new BLUE ÖYSTER CULT. I mostly buy vinyl but some bands I only own the CDs. It is better than I had expected and it rocks mostly… not too fond of the Buck tracks. They are a bit too polished and commercial.   As for what I am listening to. I hear about six hours of music everyday, so I hear a lot. 

WC: Have you read any good books lately?

SH: I try to do some reading everyday. I am currently reading “Patch and Tweak” by Kim Bjorn and Chris Meyer. It’s a fantastic but nerdy book about modular synthesizers. I am also working on the amazing book “Cassette Culture” by Jerry Krantz (Aural Innovations).  Very interesting. I am one chapter away from finishing “Passion for Vinyl”, with interviews with different record label owners. Last month I read and reviewed a book on Tommy Bolin and I also read one on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

WC: Do you remember the first concert you attended?

SH: Sure...TED NUGENT and ANGEL, Sept. 5, 1978 at the Long Beach Arena, California.

WC: Have you come across any new gear lately that you love?

SH:  Earlier this year I bought the Novation Ultranova synth and a Korg SQ-1 sequencer.  Both are really fantastic and I’ve made a lot of music with them this year.

WC: Are there any closing thoughts you’d like to get out there?

SH: Thank to you for being a long term fan of the bands I play in, especially Oresund Space Collective.  I also hope everyone can be safe and healthy and that we can see the return of live music in 2021. I miss all the fans, traveling, my  bands, etc...Peace, no more war…