INTERVIEW: Mary Ocher
Mary Ocher is a unique talent that has cultivated a worldwide following for her brand of avant-garde indie. With a commanding vocal presence, and a flare for the eccentric, she has put out six albums with a seventh on the way. She’ll be swinging through Cactus Club supported by Wavy V on Wednesday, May 22nd, and we had a chance to talk with her in advance of the show. Check it out here:
B&E: This is your seventh tour of North America. Are you getting used to the culture in the United States?
MO: The US is not quite a mono-culture, it’s as geographically diverse as it is culture-wise. I grew up in Israel, which idolizes its “big brother”, perhaps these days just as much as it did in the 90s – I have no idea, I’m too out of touch – but I can only speculate as both have taken a sharp turn to the right. Both are immigrant nations and both are tremendously xenophobic, in different ways. Come to think of it, both have also butchered native populations… Though the US tries to show regret and accountability, IL does not.
B&E: You’re on tour currently with Your Government, who you’ve collaborated with frequently. Does it make it easier when you’re touring with friends?
MO: Your Government is not quite an independent entity, I put it together in 2012 and have played with different combinations of two drummers over the years – the concept being a very minimal setup with two drum kits and me playing everything else. It is changing though which is exciting, we’re gradually using more instruments than them just playing the drums. It’s actually quite a bit more difficult to tour with a proper team, I’m responsible for looking after four people and figuring out various logistics. There is sometimes a sense of safety traveling with people you know, but I’m very much used to traveling on my own, that’s usually when you hang out more with new people, because you have more time to chat with people you meet, Also our sound-check can take a very long time and can be very stressful, while on my own I can get it done in 30 minutes. Yet, I’m extremely fortunate to be able to tour with a band, it’s so much harder, but worth every bit.
B&E: Are you working on any new material with the group while you’re on the road?
MO: Not quite, I spent the last 6 months writing new material and we’ve just recorded it last month in Italy.
B&E: You’ve been in the studio a lot lately. Do you prefer being in the studio creating, or being on the road and playing live?
MO: Both can be pretty stressful to be honest, in the studio because of time pressure and on the road because you need to get to the next show on time. I prefer days in which I can just hang out with friends in the sun, but I wouldn’t be able to enjoy these if I wasn’t putting myself through endless tours and albums, because that’s what gives me a sense of purpose and belonging.
B&E: For those that haven’t been to a Mary Ocher show, what can they expect?
MO: Even those who have been to a solo show before, this will be quite a different experience. It’s still very theatrical, but there will be visuals, a light show, costumes, well coordinated beats and god forbid!… you can even dance to it!
B&E: You’ve been touring behind your 2017 album, “The West Against The People”. Are you still excited to play the material from that record live?
MO: The show is a mix of four records and a bunch of new and unreleased tracks, so that’s pretty new and exciting for us. We’ll also mix it up a bit in different cities.
B&E: What is your favorite song on “The West Against The People”?
MO: My favorite song to perform is probably “The Endlessness”.
B&E: Lastly, you’re on the road a lot. What is one thing that is not essential that you always bring on tour with you?
MO: Ooh, that’s a fun question! after so many years in Germany unfortunately, I do not seem to pack a single thing that’s not necessary. You learn to travel light, but how dull is that?! I’ll keep thinking about it, perhaps I can pack something goofy this time…
(I do often pack a bathing suit, but rarely get to use it… even when there’s a lovely pool in the hotel, usually you’re either too tired, it’s too cold or it’s closed 10pm-9am… and that’s exactly when you have to leave again :O).