Talking to Wuh Oh, otherwise known as Peter Ferguson, you sense he’s constantly on the cusp of a revelation. His latest track ‘Pretty Boy’ is similarly elliptical. Its ever-circling central synth chords offers a premonition of cataclysms that might never come to pass, but that feel present nonetheless. It’s deeply anxious, and yet moments like the submerged female vocals feel ecstatic. In short, it’s pretty brilliant. Remarkably, it’s actually short too, lasting just over 2 minutes.
Wuh Oh had his breakthrough at the tender age of 15 when his music was unearthed on Myspace by none other than Annie Mac. Since then he’s been catapulted into the electronic music limelight, though you sense he’s also taken the time to withdraw and work on his craft, particularly given the evolution of his visual design work—all part of the growing Wuh Oh sphere. Alongside the premiere of his video for ‘Pretty Boy’, we got him to answer a few questions. After all, who better to introduce Wuh Oh than the man himself.
What first started you on your musical path?
On family road trips my parents would always play amazing CDs for me and my brothers in the car. That was the main place we listened to music. One day something in my brain exploded and it was as if I could suddenly see what made the chord progressions and melodies work. I got mega obsessed with harmony and since then I’ve never stopped searching for magic note combinations I don’t understand yet: those greeny-purple chords.
How does the music you’re making now differ from the music when you were 15?
Back then I was making bananas happy hardcore with only computer game noises. I use a broader palette of crazy sounds now and I’ve since learned some weirder chords but I hope I’m getting better at executing it all in a way that’s accessible. I’ve never been interested in producing music for producers. It also changed things when I could start going to clubs in Glasgow etc. and experience the physical and emotional effects of dance music in that kind of environment. When I was 15 I could only imagine what that felt like from watching movies.
If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
Making music videos and artwork for other artists. I want to do this in a few years anyway. Working on visuals for Wuh Oh is the only thing I’ve found that gives me the same rush that making music does. I used to worry that this was a form of procrastination from getting music made, but then one day my little brother pointed out that I’m just enjoying every part of the process and that cracked the whole thing wide open.
Your new single is simultaneously melancholy and anthemic. In what environment do you imagine it playing best?
Lately I’ve not been able to mentally separate the track from the music video. That’s got to be a good thing, right? The tune’s super cinematic, so it could work in a creepy sci-fi movie or TV title sequence. If non-diegetic music actually played around us in real life (and I wish it did), it’d be quite neat if ‘Pretty Boy’ were playing while a gigantic planet crashes into Earth.
Who in the music industry is a real creative inspiration?
As far as other electronic artists go, I love how specific Daft Punk are about how they present their work. With them, the music is just a small part of a greater whole and I similarly plan to build a big crazy Wuh Oh world around my tracks. Daft Punk are also real protective of their brand. They definitely say no to most opportunities they’re offered regardless of the promise of a cool pay cheque. On top of this, you don’t see them posting garbage online daily.
Your latest music video concerns the coming together of metal and flesh. Do you see AI having a major influence on the music industry?
I imagine in a few years AI will be able to write music as well as or better than humans. I don’t know how much us humans will relate to music created by machines as opposed to fellow humans. In any case, once AI has learned to experience the spectrum of sensation and emotion it takes to write music like we do, those crazy wee robots will be able to enjoy their own music!
Buy Pretty Boy here.
Words: Blaise Radley