Artist of the day: No Milk
No Milk (a.k.a. Brigid Ochshorn) is a one-woman band, whose murky synth-pop implies a glimpse into the past while being firmly planted in the future. She describes her music as “drone pop sounds from South of the South. Heartstrings pulled through a satellite beam, reflecting something between songs and memories.”
As we sat down to speak, she smiled and said, “Ask me anything, I have no shame”.
I’ll start with asking: No Milk. Does that stem from being lactose intolerant?
It’s about not wanting to be taken advantage of and not wanting to take advantage of others, along the lines of not milking an idea. It’s meant to be more of a metaphor than a call to action.
Where did you start, and how did it lead you to where you are now?
Music has always been my best friend: something I could always count on and something that gives back. I started listening to Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, Dylan, and a lot of the classics via tape when I was 6. The melodies stuck with me for a long time.
Chronologically, I’ve always been interested in writing songs. I’ve always played a lot by ear. I took piano lessons when I was little, and I started writing really, really terrible pop songs when I was 7 or 8. I eventually got back to it as something I wanted to do for others to perform. I still have little scribbled notes of crappy songs I wrote when I was little.
Then I got into a lot of weirder stuff when I got into middle school and high school. MTV totally corrupted me.
As it does everything.
I also studied musical theatre for a long time, which I think has actually influenced what I do, embarrassingly enough. It helped me get over stage fright. Also I studied vocal techniques for several years and I use a lot of the same things I learned for theatre to help strengthen my voice for musical performance now.
No means to an end that is helpful to your artistic medium should be considered embarrassing.
After that, my first real band experience was playing with Dead Horse Detective Agency. That was my first time performing with others. Then I played as Ant Parade solo, started with loops on the guitar pedal, and lyrics sung over loops. And then got a drum machine and started working in other elements form there.
What would you say the difference between Ant Parade and No Milk is, and why did you sever Ant Parade?
At the time, I thought I was gonna go in a more radical different direction. I was more expecting to use only instruments and cut out the electronics. Then I found I was still pretty attached to them, and kept writing pop melodies and bass lines and things. I wanted it to feel like a new start. It felt like a new turning point in my life; I was really getting into music more than before, I had more time to play, and had more focus. So I wanted to start a new band, even though I was one person, I still wanted to change my name. It was a totally irrational decision.
Do you find yourself influenced by other mediums besides music?
I’ve always been a big fan of creative food, like cooking for your friends and family. I think of music in a similar way: you’re creating something ideally from scratch for others and it’s an expression of the soul that can be shared. I think traveling and hearing music in other countries and also hearing and sharing other countries ways of life through food and lifestyle. Traveling has had the greatest influence on me because you get to immerse yourself in another culture and focus on that while you’re there. You’re moved, even if you’re only there for a day.
What would you say your subject matter is based on? Some people are more ethereal, and others use a linear narrative. What’s your approach?
A lot of my songs are creating some kind of documentation of an internal process of realizing how I feel or how a situation is going. It’s a lot of working things out as the song goes along. I like there to be some forms of realization throughout the course of the song itself. Instead of, for example, saying I’m gonna sing a song about how I feel today, it’s more like I don’t really know what’s going on in my life. I’m trying to figure that out, and this is my coping mechanism: music. These are lines I have to work within.
Are there any final things you would like to say that we might not have touched upon?
The reason I went on tour this summer, and the reason I’ve always wanted to tour and travel, is to experience getting an opportunity to play in a new environment with unexpected variables ... uncontrolled. Not because I’m expecting to get paid, or get big or get signed, or anything like that. I think that as a musician your intentions become ultimately and totally visible. There’s complete visibility whether you know it or not when you’re composing or performing. However you go about it I think it’s very important to maintain your integrity. I think people often push their values to the side in order to achieve their more ego-driven goals.
In the great karmic universe, you get not what you want, not what you hope for, but what you’re meant to get in your own wheel, your own spectrum. If your intention is to make it big and to be given these accolades, then it’s probably not gonna happen as much, because people see through that.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*. Photo: Eric Andre.