London Beats in Lockdown
Nothing could stop Ooberfuse from making the music they love
By Michellan Sarile-Alagao
Meet Ooberfuse, a London-based band started by songwriter-vocalist Cherrie Anderson (a British Filipina) and multi-instrumentalist-producer Hal St. John. Their music has been described as ethereal, East-meets-West electronic pop with heartfelt vocals. The band is a favourite in the indie music scene, having received critical acclaim from venues such as BBC Introducing, Music Week, and The Guardian. They have even been endorsed by music legends such as Erasure and Boy George.
They especially shine during their electrifying live acts, and have performed in London’s iconic O2 arena. They regularly go on global tours and have been to almost every country around the world, from Brazil to the Vatican. When the pandemic hit and London went on lockdown, it was quite a blow for Anderson and St. John, who thrived on the energy of live performances. “Lockdown was hard for us, as it was for many musicians,” Anderson shared. “We had international tours all lined up and ready, but they all had to be cancelled. That was a major disappointment.”
But the lockdown couldn’t extinguish their love for creating music. Anderson said, “We focused on what could work while in lockdown. We did plenty of livestreams, which allowed us to connect and interact with friends and fans from the UK, Germany, the US, Brazil and the Philippines — all in one online gig! We also joined online music festivals, such as the Liverpool Threshold Festival.”
St. John added, “At the risk of sounding philosophical, music is not optional for us; it has an existential urgency we cannot silence. During the pandemic, this urgent need to speak from a deeper place never evaporated; if anything, the need intensified.”
Since Anderson and St. John couldn’t record in studios while lockdown was in place, St. John converted his own flat into a studio where they could work. There, they continued to write new music. True to their band’s name, Ooberfuse’s musical offerings are a fusion of musical styles and traditions gleaned from their background, heritage and connections with others.
This passionate fusion is highlighted in their latest single, “Vanish the Night”, produced by four-time Grammy Award winner Kevin Killen (who has worked with artists such as U2 and Shakira, among others), and featuring Gerry Leonard (who was David Bowie’s guitarist) and nuMori, a Korean ethnic band.
“Our latest song is a testament to creativity in practice and our persistence to pursue what we love the most: music. It was literally an intercontinental collaboration, with people from London, Seoul, and New York working together for this one track in the midst of lockdown,” Anderson said. “The message of the song is quite hard-hitting as well. It’s saying that in situations and places where there is darkness — bring the light.”
Fans can expect more new music in 2022. With the lockdown lifted, Ooberfuse greeted the year with their first on-site live gig post-pandemic last January 28. It was at the iconic Dublin Castle, Camden, where musicians such as Coldplay and Amy Winehouse have performed. “It was such a good night that we’ve been invited back next month, booked gigs in Manchester and Sheffield, and have just been booked for a music festival in the Czech Republic — all thanks to that one gig!” St. John enthused.
Anderson added, “We have gigs planned here in London and all over the UK. We’ll be in Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow — lots of places. We’re finalizing some dates to tour Portugal as well. And I’m hoping that sometime later this year we’ll be able to go to Japan.”
St. John shared, “We are straining at the leash to perform live again and share our music in its new, invigorated form. We recently welcomed drummer Gregg da Vinci and Jack Lester-George, our guitar and bass player. This new formation allows us to really give our audiences a live experience that conveys the excitement we are gripped by when we produce our songs.”
For Anderson, the lifting of lockdown doesn’t just mean a chance to perform the music she loves — it means being reunited with loved ones as well. “I’m especially hoping that I get to go to the Philippines this year because I haven’t been back in ages,” she revealed. “It would be nice to see some friends and family, and I’m hoping my bandmates can come and join me so we can do some performances there.”
“Vanish the Night” will be on their upcoming album A State of Emergency. Find out more about Ooberfuse and their music on the band’s Facebook page, IG and Tiktok (@ooberfuse), Spotify, and official website https://ooberfuse.com/