Straight Razor is a dark electronic project from Omar Doom, who is also known for his acting work in films such as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Musical since childhood, Doom played in metal bands during high school and later gravitated towards industrial and electronic styles. He was part of a duo called Doomington with DJ Stretch Armstrong before launching Straight Razor. Earlier this summer, Straight Razor released a new EP entitled Vol. 2. Over a Zoom interview, Doom discussed the EP and his musical career.
Your latest release is the second in a series of EPs. Was that format the obvious choice, or did you consider putting out a full album?
I don’t know if people have the attention span for a whole album right now. I think giving them a little at a time is better. Maybe an EP is too much.
Could you discuss your musical background and how you got into this style?
Well, in the beginning, it was very organic. There were only live instruments. I was playing in metal bands in high school. But, I kind of segued into industrial music from metal because there was a lot of stuff that was borderline industrial metal at the time, like the NWO album from Ministry. From there, I started really getting into electronic music. I liked Thrill Kill Kult at the time. I started going to more clubs that were more dance-oriented. I remember I saw Thrill Kill Kult at The Tunnel in New York. They had a halfpipe there, and everything back then was really cool. Basically, bands like that were putting me into dance clubs. So I ended up, after a while, getting full on into dance music and put most of my instruments away. I’m probably going to take a trip back and start using some more live instruments in the future. We’ll see.
Do you feel that skills from your experience with live instruments carry over into your electronic work?
Yes. I think a lot of my classical piano that I studied when I was little is coming in handy because I get a little tricky with my synth lines. I’m kind of making them similar to guitar lines. You can hear that in some of my songs, especially in ‘Diablos‘ on Volume One. At times, I’m almost making metal riffs, but with, like, electro. These are things that I’ve heard people say about my music and I guess it makes sense.
Was it obvious that Straight Razor would be a solo project?
Well, I’m open to some collaborations. I might do tracks with some of my favorite producers out there right now that I’ve met recently. But in terms of the Straight Razor project, it’s a lot easier to have control over everything for me. Because I know exactly what I want and even when I was in my bands, I was writing all the music and showing everyone the parts. So I think it was a natural progression for me.
What is your creative process like?
Yeah, well inspiration-wise, I watch a lot of movies. I listen to a lot of soundtracks and you know, a lot less is coming from going out to clubs these days. But, once I get down to making music, it usually starts in Ableton and I work from there. I usually start with drums. I usually do everything at home first and then I’ll take it to different friends studios, try it on different speakers. I‘m in the process of building a studio at my place here. I have a new apartment, so I’m building it up.
Are there particular ways it might evolve or change once you take it out of your home studio and into other situations?
Yeah. I think the drums especially are affected by that. By different speakers, and different environments and to get them dialed in I feel I really need to hear them in different places.
Do you perform live with this project?
Yes. I just had a tour in May, it was like a little mini tour. We did Philadelphia, New York, Nashville, Oakland, Portland, and Detroit. And I did a show in LA, it was a record release party for volume two on July 8th at Das Bunker, which is at Catch One.
Do you use Ableton on stage?
I did it in the past. I was using CDJs mostly, but this past tour I did use Ableton, which gives you a little more room to do some live remixing of your songs. It can an be a lot of fun.
Is the challenge at all adapting music? Figuring out how to best perform it live?
No. That’s also part of the fun. Yeah. Always learning new things, new tricks.
You’ve done quite a bit of acting work as well. Was there ever a question as to what you wanted to focus on pursuing professionally? Did you feel at any point that you might want to make either music or acting your main focus? How do they balance each other?
Well, actors have a lot of time on their hands, so whenever I was on a movie and I would go to my trailer and work on a track or something, people would be very jealous. That I had something to do with my time, because a lot of the time is spent waiting. And also in between movies, I’ve had very large breaks. So obviously there’s a lot of time there.
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