The Detroit-based group The Oliverwho Factory (they go simply by the names Darryl and Shone) is a bit of a mystery. With a scant 10 releases under their belt since they premiered on their own Madd Chaise Inc imprint in 2003, they have created a name for themselves that is rarely heard but when it is, it’s uttered in a reverent tone. Their sound is one that doesn’t fit easily into a box; its raw and electrifying blend of soulful house and jackin’ techno has likely made them hard to market out of the gate. Which was a problem for Darryl’s previous incarnation on a major label under the name Oliver Who?, a deal that only yielded one album that focused on a range of R&B styles. That experience may be why The Oliverwho Factory are reluctant to enter into the spotlight. Whatever the reason, it’s only a matter of time before the world realizes what they’ve been missing. After sticking to small quantities of vinyl through the years they’ve made the jump to digital distribution with What People Play and saw their gorgeous slice of strut-your-stuff house “Together” featured in the mix on Tama Sumo’s recent Panorama Bar 02 mix CD, two events that will surely get them more of the exposure they deserve. In a rare interview with Energy Flash they shed some light on their beginnings, their inspirations and possible customer appreciation day next year.
Q: How did the Oliverwho Factory and Madd Chaise become a reality? Are the two synonymous, in other words was Madd Chaise created as an outlet for just your own productions?
A: We love Techno and House music! The thing that we noticed was that there wasn’t a whole lot of music that had those combined elements. Vocals were not really the thing to do with certain styles or arrangements. We wanted to change that! Oliver started creating sounds and placing them up on the now defunct MP3.com. Barrie at Rubadub took notice of the music and contacted us. Things started to grow from there. Madd Chaise was established in order to make us a legitimate company :-).
Q: Where did the names for the group and label originate?
A: Oliverwho Factory originated from the artist previously known as Oliverwho? (LOL) He was an experimental artist that had signed with Zoo/BMG. Unfortunately at that time Oliverwho? was too complex cause he could play all types of music from rock to, jazz to pop, therefore the label really didn’t know how to categorize/market him. …not R&B enough and not Rock enough. Interestingly enough that type of labeling or lack of label still follows us today which has defined who we are. The “Factory” came into play when “Shonie C” arrived. Just like a factory has many different components to make a “product,” she brings in the other elements of sounds to complete the whole package.
Madd Chaise not to be confused with the other MADD. It is just another part of the obscurity. If things were too easily identified some of the excitement is lost. The Extra D is for emphasis; some people use the word ‘mad’ to describe the term “crazy.” Chaise pronounced, “chase,” is just that. “It’s a mad chase in this crazy world…” People are always chasing something riches, notoriety, their dreams…etc.
Q: Are your two the sole members of the Oliverwho Factory? And if so what are both of your roles in the production of the music?
A: Yes. Oliverwho plays all instruments, writes and produces. Shonie (performs) vocals, writes and produces.
Q: How long have you both been involved in music and in what capacity before starting the Oliverwho Factory?
A: Forever! Oliver involved since around six is when he started playing drums. 1986-Spectrum Records released Oliverwho?’s “Fairytales.” 1992-Shaka Who Who Zoo/BMI, 1995- toured with Aaliyah on her European tour, Blackground Records -keyboards. Currently dance music…
Around eight Shonie began playing the piano. Wrote first song “Macaroni & Cheese,” still shopping that one. LOL. Continued to be active in all types of music from Opera competitions in high school, placed 2nd in Michigan choral vocal association first record, exciting times! Went on to sing here and there. Met up with Oliverwho and still making music.
Q: Your tracks range from deep and soulful to tough and experimental while always keeping a jazz or funk element of musicality present in the productions. What types of artists or experiences have helped shape your sound?
A: Pat Metheny, David Bowie, Loose Ends, Lenny Kravitz, Joyce Sims, the Police, B52’s, Parliment and many, many more. Experiences: Dancing in a club back in the day that was actually warehouse known as “The Warehouse.” And how we love the era of the 80’s!
Q: Your tracks also have a raw and under produced feel, is that a factor of the equipment or recording technique/approach you take?
A: We really like the feel. Our first song had a dirty, grindy, feeling that gave our music an old school sound. It became our signature we decided to stick with that identifying yet odd mood, making tweaks here and there.
Q: Coming from Detroit what artists from the city have been the biggest influence on you and why?
A: Stevie Wonder what more can one say! Pure genius. George Clinton he was one of the most theatrical and obscure as obscure can be. Pure elements of funk and soul! Carl Craig very inquisitive and an interesting person, we really appreciate the fact that he is that way in regards to his music as well. He takes risks and continuously steps outside the box! Kevin Saunderson-not afraid to have a good time nor use vocals. His interaction with his supporters fantastic. Stacey Pullen-his playing is bananas he played our J’David remix over in Europe, we’ve been supporting him ever since. Of course Rick Wilhite- he played our very first release “U Don’t Know, when everyone else said it sounded “muddy” (was meant to sound that way) thanks Rick! The pioneers of this whole dance phenomenon they know they are, without them putting Detroit on the map, it would have been difficult for newer producers to make some noise.
Q: How do you see yourself fitting into the Detroit techno and house scene? Are you tight with the more established and well-known artists or are off doing your own thing?
A: We support both scenes, for our music is greatly influenced by both. When you say tight, like homies (Lol)? We are cordial with everyone, no tension at least that we know of. We do share some interests with C2 and Monty Luke. They are a couple of nice guys.
Q: Would you say your music (songs like “We Are”, “Solitaire” or “Set Me Free”) is message driven? And if so what are some of those messages (vocals or not)?
A: Yep-Let’s take “We Are,” Did you know that there is only a 4% difference in the DNA that we as humans have? But yet so many people want to separate and divide when we are all so alike…
Q: You keep a low profile while producing some of the most exciting and creatively inspired dance music. The fact you have only been pressing a few hundred copies of releases and were previously vinyl only helped keep you obscured, was that part of an original plan to keep the label underground?
A: THANKS, Yes. Don’t really like a lot of attention, just appreciation :o) however we may have a customer appreciation day or two in 2010…Underground is just where we feel most comfortable.
Q: How did the decision come about to start releasing digitally via What People Play? Will you continue to release vinyl for future projects?
A: An opportunity was presented to us to release some music digitally and we like the idea of doing this so we went full speed ahead! Of course we will, there is nothing that compares to having vinyl pressed up the look, the smell, and feel. We grew in that era and we can’t abandon it completely!
Q: With a track (“Together”) being featured on Tama Sumo’s recent Panorama Bar mix CD you will surely see more attention. Are you planning on using that as a springboard to gain more momentum?
A: Tama Sumo such a class act! Top notch DJ and all round nice person. The project has a collection of wonderful tracks and artists that is sure to make some noise!! So if we are noticed then that is an added benefit, but we are honored just to be a part of this compilation.
Q: What will your Alternative Soul division sound like and when can we expect to see the first release?
A: Old contemporary Classic with a New Wave.
Q: What will 2010 see from both the Oliverwho Factory and Madd Chaise release-wise?
A: More heart and soul!