By Wal Reid
Alex Louise and Pat Shanahan who is originally from Wales, make upAuckland beats-folk duo Ophelia, who today are basking in the glorious Auckland autumn sun as I approach the eye-catching pair. It's scary, I mean they look the part, like they play in a band.
Alex adorned in tattoos from top to bottom looks like she's stepped off the stage at Westfest and Pat the ‘beats maestro' is quite happy to shoot the breeze about rugby and the landscape subtleties of Wales & NZ. Of course the only Welsh band that comes to mind are the Lost Prophets but we dilly-dally around it and decide not to go there. Instead I suggest maybe Alex's tatts combined with the duos acoustic nuances would make a great new music movement folk-edge.
"I did not do folk-edge because I'm not" she laughs. "I have no explanation for it. No, I did do folk and I liked hard-core back in the day, all part of it tried to create a bit of a different image".
Ophelia's song writing process is a natural osmosis that started out with Alex's original folk/acoustic tracks her way of story-telling so when Pat heard them he knew exactly what to do and began producing the duo's trademark electronic sound that has morphed into the Ophelia sound. "We just started writing records together" recalls Pat in his Welsh drawl. "It just randomly turned into this one day and we haven't looked back since really".
Folk music is a scary moniker that's usually synonymous with Roger Whittaker or Nana Mouskouri although Alex is a little more modern when it comes to her approach to song writing, something she was happy to do when she met up with Pat dabbling with Dubstep and EDM genres to fine tune the duos overall sound. "I use to write quirky almost Regina Spektor / Laura Marling-esque stuff" says Alex. " I put a few covers on YouTube that Pat found, we started playing around with that then tried something a bit more electronic, that's when we started writing collaboratively."
Play With Me is Ophelia's latest music video, its quirky theme of love and love lost is a perfect reminder of being content with what you have, Alex & Pat also feature in the video as retirement home workers with one of the main couple characters dying on screen. "In the song I kill them both off so they get off lightly with just one" she laughs.
"Yeah I've always been interested in the visual side of things" says Alex. "But Chris Williams who does all our videos from Design Weasel isjust really passionate and wants to try different things and completely takes charge and says "right we're doing this" and you have no choice".
"I kind of gave him a concept and he just runs away and makes these awesome things" chips in Pat. "He's died on videos the guy on there. He's done it before, so he's well-seasoned that's what he does, he's on things then he dies on them". "Also I think the couple are actors and we just plucked them out of a retirement home" laughs Alex. "I think they pop up now and then to do some acting, Chris knew them and hijacked them".
NZ has no paparazzi or little that reaches fever pitch, well that is unless your name is Lorde, however the question of fans and stalkers finds its way into conversation, something the pair have no problem sharing about. "We haven't come across anyone too weird yet have we?" muses Pat. "Did you have something recently?" "I've had a couple of people in random places say "are you that singer?" which is always quite funny" she recalls. "I think I was at Melbourne airport actually coming back home and someone's like "oh you're Ophelia" I went "this is so cool". I was in an animal shelter yesterday and I felt really bad because I didn't say hi but someone came up to my boyfriend and said "is that Ophelia"? He said "yes". I got a little excited about that so I'm sending him back with an EP to apologise for getting embarrassed and not saying hi"'. "Obviously this one gets a bit more noticed mate, I'm fine with that and let her deal with that side of things" laughs Pat
Their debut EP 'Face the Sea' was released in November 2013 following an exciting reception for the single'Not So Frightening' and now Ophelia will be releasing their new recording Invisible. Recorded in Opus studio and Depot Sound, and mixed at Roundhead studio with Jordan Stone (Wilco, The Datsuns), Invisible was mastered by Ben Faggans (Flume, Rufus) and features guitars from Fabian Aravales on the final track Next Door and of course featuring the hypnotic Play With Me. "That one is our second single off our new invisible EP" says Alex. "It's out on Friday, we had Eden (single) come out a few months before that and we'll obviously release more off it as soon as it comes out".
There is no truth to the rumour that Pat will be getting tattoos anytime in the near future although he himself sounds a little more pessimistic about the duos musical future than being the next tattooed DJ god. "Full body mate". "Yeah, keep up" Laughs Alex.