The Incredible Mystery of OVIFORMIA SCI, Resolved.
If you’re holding this album in your hands, it’s likely that at some point or another you have asked yourself any or all of the following questions about this mysterious and unfathomable music group: Who were OVIFORMIA SCI? How is it possible that a group so tremendously ahead of its time musically and esthetically never release anything? Why were they the way they were? What were their references and influences? How did they become a cult group beyond our borders? Why have they never been released despite the interest of thousands of curious synth-pop fans all over the planet? Who made their videos? How is it possible that such an incredibly modern group existed 30 years ago? ...and so on, and so on, with an endless string of questions and unknowns about a group we have known very little about and heard very little from, until now. Many of us have been following OVIFORMIA SCI’s difficult trail for years, through beat-up cassettes and recordings, and also through disconnected music-magazine clippings (and even gossip magazine clippings!), but there has been little else. It wasn’t until Youtube got here and the work of thousands of fans like you, putting videos and demos up, when we became shocked and speechless, watching the amazing universe of OVIFORMIA SCI. The videos for “Mi Teletipo”, “Hablamos De Nosotros”, and “Fashion Magazines” only served as more proof of the at first trio and then quartet’s musical and esthetic greatness. Their legion of fans grew. The number of views has gone through the roof. The demos went up. Labels halfway around the world tried to release the recordings but the harsh reality was that OVIFORMIA SCI’s original recordings didn’t exist; they had disappeared. Their story, their legend, seems condemned to remain anchored in mystery. Until today. In an incredible cosmic coincidence, the original tapes for the studio sessions for all those videos appeared, intact, 30 years later. What you are about to hear is a miraculous discovery: the original studio recordings of the hits OVIFORMIA SCI recorded. It’s a historical treasure sent from the past to augment the group’s futuristic legend. Justice has been done, cosmic justice. Only an entity like OVIFORMIA SCI could resolve such a problem with this bizarre and and exquisite accumulation of coincidences. They are a special group even now in their latest situation. Welcome to the exquisite, synthesized world of OVIFORMIA SCI, one of the best-kept secrets of the world’s synth-pop, now available to be heard by all mankind. And what better way to learn more about them then by letting them talk. Maybe this way we will finally understand a little bit more about the exquisite, synthesized universe of this rara avis of pop.
OVIFORMIA SCI, we’re talking to you.
Synthesized teenagers from another world
Paco: It’s difficult to remember everything. For me, it was really special to experience it in first person and in real time. That was really exciting. We were like a sect, a way of thinking, of living. OVIFORMIA demanded an effort, it was almost like being a warrior monk.
Lucho: It’s true. We dedicated all our time to it, and any activity related to the group became kind of like a ritual, almost templar.
To be clear, how old were you? How did you get started?
Lucho: Eighteen. I had been playing in bands since I was 14. Someone told me Manolo Campoamor had left KAKA DE LUXE and was starting a new group called NEOPRENO. They gave me a phone number, I called and met with Miguel Bañuelos, later known as WAQ. The thing was that Manolo Campoamor had started painting and had dropped everything else. Miguel and I decided to go ahead without him and Ger and Clara joined. It lasted one summer; it was fun and interesting but Ger, Clara and I wanted something more serious, more electronic, and FALSOS FANTASMAS was more KAKA DE LUXE, more new-wave punk... that’s why it was so short-lived.
As a fan of the darker part of the 80s, and after rediscovering you guys on Youtube I always thought: What were these guys listening to, to sound like that?
Lucho: When I was a kid my dad bought a Kid Baltan and Tom Dissevelt album called “Musica para un Guatque Sideral” in Spain. That was my first contact with electronic music. Later, there was TANGERINE DREAM, NEU, CLUSTER and other krautrock groups, CAN above all. We were also Bowie fans, and glam in general. In England in 80, for electronic pop, there was THE HUMAN LEAGUE and very little else. TUBEWAY ARMY and ULTRAVOX used guitars and drums. We liked CABARET VOLTAIRE, TUXEDOMOON, KRAFTWERK, THROBBING GRISTLE... and also disco music. MORODER and CHIC, most of all.
Ger: We preferred to experiment than to follow the latest fashion or movement. And alone; it was us against the world.
Lucho: In London, we bought albums, we saw the esthetic of the people, we saw WASTED YOUTH live in Camden Palace and both the group and the audience had that sophisticated, futuristic, decadent look that would later become New Romantic. We realized that our idea wasn’t so far from, let’s say, the Zeitgeist. We wanted to do something somewhere between Bowie and KRAFTWERK.
Ger: We wanted to have an electronic group. Though later Paco joined and we were more neo-romantic.
Lucho: When we made the first songs we asked ourselves, “and now what?” “Where do we go now?” “Where are we going to play?” Spain was all rock then.
Looking back, Madrid back then seemed like it was bustling with activity, but really, what did a group like yours do in a place like that? Who did you connect with?
Lucho: We were a really creative generation. We all wanted to be musicians,or make movies, or be artists, or work in journalism or design or advertising. We had friends who were forming other groups like MAMÁ and CHOKES but we didn’t like their music and they didn’t like ours. One day, Clara and I went to a musical instruments store, and Servando Carballar and Marta approached us; we knew who AVIADOR DRO were but we had seen them with their nuclear power plant suits, never in person. They asked us if we had a group when they saw us looking at synthesizers. We became friends and one day at their house the idea of doing a “Techno Symposium” came up. The idea was to have an electronic music festival; the term “techno-pop” didn’t exist; Servando made it up.
Ger: They really took being futurists seriously.
Lucho: When we hung out we ate and drank artificial things: different-colored jello, TANG, and food and drink that seem artificial. We talked about music, movies, books, science. We felt so intellectual. Our attitude was totally anti-rock. We performed in Ramiro de Maeztu with AVIADOR DRO and a lot of punk groups and the people threw bottles at us, even before we started to play, because not having guitars or drums was a sacrilege. The people hated us. We were anti-rock. We didn’t want guitars; we didn’t even want to sweat. Rock had died with punk and after punk there had to be new things. Punk was the death of rock.
Ger: We went out to play without drums and the people didn’t understand. Then we started playing in weird places, art galleries, uncommon places. We didn’t even think about playing in modern temples like Rock-Ola.
Lucho: There is a funny story, to understand how wrapped up in the OVIFORMIA universe we were; I don’t know if I should tell it. We were rehearsing for the Symposium. Obviously this is all happening in an amazing top-floor apartment with a terrace, total luxury, we lived almost outside of reality, drinking cocktails, and 100% dedicated to what we were doing. Suddenly, my mom comes and says, “look what’s happening, there’s a coup.” Clara’s uncle was president then, and her father was a senator. We watched what was going on on the TV for a little while, but we went right back to practicing. And this was Clara’s uncle! And her father was a socialist senator! We were so wrapped up in our own story that not even the government coup affected us. That’s what OVIFORMIA was like.
The Techno Symposium
Legendary concert performed on the 9th of March, 1981, in Madrid’s Marquee club. AVIADOR DRO Y SUS OBREROS ESPECIALIZADOS, LOS INICIADOS, EL HUMANO MECANO, LA TERAPIA HUMANA, and OVIFORMIA SCI performed.
There is a lot of mythology about the famous Techno Symposium concert. It’s like the BEATLES in Madrid; everyone says they were there but there really weren’t so many people.
Lucho: It was a Monday. There were 150 people, the place was full. It was really nice; we played with AVIADOR DRO, EL HUMANO MECANO, LA TERAPIA HUMANA and LOS INICIADOS. The audience liked us, and Alaska, Carlos Berlanga, Nacho Canut, Bernardo Bonezzi, and maybe even others came backstage to say hi. You can just imagine how thrilled we were. They told us stuff like “the best,” “I was amazed,” and they took us under their wing. We started going to Paloma Chamorro’s house and Las Costus and to meet la creme de la creme of the Movida. It was fascinating. A few days after the Symposium we got a letter from Fernando Marquez (PARAÍSO, LA MODE, POP DECÓ), that said that after having seen us he had no interest in POP DECÓ and he wanted to join OVIFORMIA SCI.
Did “el Zurdo” ever join OVIFORMIA SCI?
Lucho: I mean, it was “el Zurdo”!! He had been in PARAÍSO and KAKA DE LUX. He came to practice a few times with lyrics, but no. It got to a point where we had to say, “it’s probably better not to do this”. It didn’t make sense. Let’s say it didn’t work out for esthetic differences.
Please, tell us about how that Techno Symposium finished...
Ger: We were backstage, AVIADOR DRO were playing, in the middle of one of their songs, the typical police inspector with a trench coat and 20 police officers behind him came in, yelling: “Stop the music.” They stopped the concert and took some of us down to the station. I had silver hair, plastic pants, and obviously they arrested me. They took a bunch of people, put us in a police van, and took us to the station.
Lucho: It happened really fast. We all went down to the station to get them. We walked over. It was like a parade of of really strange people... AVIADOR DRO dressed like AVIADOR DRO, us in our tube-suits, girls crying...
Paco: They arrested Ger because they thought he was gay.
Ger: They took me to the station under the “vagrancy law”.
Lucho:Ultimately, the famous Techno Symposium ended up at the police station.
Paco: Paloma Chamorro and I were a couple then, and she told me to go see what was going on in the concert. I went and lasted as long as I could. She had told me: “Go see if there’s anything worthwhile.” The next day she asked me about the concert and I told her it was garbage. That day, all of Madrid was talking about OVIFORMIA and the incident. She could have killed me for leaving early. She was working on the “Imágenes” program on television then; she had interviewed Dalí, and was getting into the art world.
Lucho: The first time we were ever on television was actually on “Imágenes”.
Paco: I think the best part about the era we got to live in is that all of Madrid’s cultural movement was the work of just a few people. At first we were the artists and the audience at the same time. We would go out every night and there was always something interesting going on. We didn’t have to wait for any outside stimulation, we had everything we needed.
Lucho: Paloma insisted on Paco joining us in the group. Paco had left SISÍ. I told Paloma: “That’s horrible, we don’t need anyone else. And especially not from a pop-rock group like SISÍ”.
Paco: In OVIFORMIA guitar plucking was forbidden; that only belonged in rock. I think I got into OVIFORMIA because I played badly. Back then you didn’t need to play well.
How did Clara deal with the press coverage of her coming from the family she came from?
Lucho: Obviously we were only in the gossip magazines because of Clara being the daughter and niece of who she was, and not because of a sudden interest in electronic music. In the beginning, they called her “the president’s rock n’ roll daughter” We hated it. Clara was in charge of the sequencers which back then were super complicated. She was 16, she’d returned from London the year before. Her room was covered in posters of CAN and Bowie, she had BAY CITY ROLLERS albums. It was the perfect mix. She obviously was a magnet for the gossip magazines, and we didn’t really care too much. In the end it was so punk, to be so frivolous, even though our music wasn’t punk. What really pissed us off about it all was that they said we were a rock band.
Indecipherable teletype for the industry
OVIFORMIA SCI never released anything, yet you were on television without even having an album.
Ger: Back then there were a lot of showcase programs on television. We started getting played on Jesús Ordovás’s “Esto no es Hawaii”, we were number one on his show with “Hablamos De Nosotros”. We got played on Manrique’s show too, and on Julio Ruiz’s... From there, they made a video for “Pista Libre”.
Lucho: We were on TV, we were being played on the radio... We even got to record in a studio! I remember “Caja de Ritmos”, “Imágenes”, “Estudio Abierto” with Iñigo...
But you never released anything. Why’s that?
Lucho: We were strange. We talked with some record companies. We said we wanted a producer like Martin Rushent or Trevor Horn, and if not, no deal. If there had been a really good offer, we would have signed with someone, but we didn’t want to record just for the sake of recording. In that sense we were very much artists. It wasn’t just about making music, it was something more. More performance. Our influences were Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, OMNI magazine, the fashion magazines, movies, literature, art exhibits... At night we would go to the airport and watch planes take off. We would go to museums and art galleries; that was our life. And we changed our repertoire every three months, which I understand was a little disconcerting for our fans. Every time we played we had news songs; the people wanted us to play “Hablamos De Nosotros” but we didn’t.
Paco: The only sound that survived in concerts was “Magazines”.
Lucho: One day, Javier Carrasco showed up. His wife knew Steve Strange from VISAGE and we were introduced. One of his friends ran Alfa Records, YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s label. It turns out they were looking for a European group that wasn’t English and they were really interested in us. We were on the verge of signing with them and somehow that caused us to ignore the Spanish labels. They had other groups that were really good like SHEENA AND THE ROKKETS and SANDII & THE SUNSETZ. In the end they went with a Belgian group called ALLEZ ALLEZ. And ultimately they went out of business soon after that.
Ger: In the last concert in Rock-Ola, in 83, we started to get the feeling that everything was going downhill. The multinationals were signing groups and competing for the number 1 spot on the top 40 list. It was all fucked.
Lucho: It was in that last concert in Rock-Ola when we realized that we had gone too far and the audience didn’t understand what we were trying to do. I guess we were supposed to be have been more techno-pop, more DEPECHE MODE or THE HUMAN LEAGUE, but we were trying to do something much more conceptual, maybe a little too far from conventional pop. Although we believed that what we were doing was really commercial. The bad part is that no one else thought so. And Clara had gone from being the president’s niece to the the minister of foreign affairs’ daughter, and the mediatic pressure was awful. And there was way too much insistence on us being a pop group like MECANO. We went to London and OVIFORMIA was finished. Soon after that, Ger came to live with us and we got back together but we changed the group’s name to HEROICA. The approach was different. It was a whole different story.
30 years without OVIFORMIA SCI and the miracle of the reels
Many years passed and a mysterious aura has developed about the group. Pasaron un montón de años y se ha ido creando un aura de misterio alrededor del grupo. Not only with local archeologists, but also abroad. What do you think about your songs still being played in elite parties and that kind of thing?
Lucho: Youtube helped. People gave what they had. Two labels called us but we told them “we don’t have anything” and they couldn’t believe it. We didn’t keep anything. We would never have believed it then if someone told us that 30 years down the road people would be interested in what we were doing. There was a German label interested in putting something out. I told them that we only had what people had put online, and then one day he saw on Facebook that I had written something about the San Isidro fair and he was totally scandalized because I told him that I liked bullfights, and he told me that in that case they couldn’t release anything.
Nothing happened until Luis Calvo showed up.
Lucho: Luis showed up saying he had the recordings. I didn’t even remember OVIFORMIA anymore. The truth is that, watching the videos, you think, “there’s something there”. We were and still are surprised that people remember OVIFORMIA. It was such an intense period. I don’t know why but it was a little messed up to remember it. At first Clara y Ger didn’t want to even talk about OVIFORMIA. Luis showed up saying he had the original recordings and something changed.
I can imagine that you also wouldn’t want it to sound cheesy at all. That it’s different now, 30 years later the recordings show up as if by some sort of magic. Did you freak out?
Lucho: Jesús Ordovás found some original recordings and he gave them to Luis. When we heard them, we thought, “That sounds amazing!” Ger and I were freaking out. As if we’d never heard it before, like, “we were doing that!” It’s amazing to notice that craziness, and now I see that it’s true that we weren’t like any other group.
Paco: We were never good at being something that the record labels talk about a lot at - we were never a product. In my opinion, we were an exaggeration of perfection. The record companies told us really strange stuff and that’s why we never fit in. We wanted to be popular but in our own way. We also had the idea that in the future there wouldn’t be albums, just videos. Yeah, we were a little arty. We had no interest in participating in the whole industry, although later we regretted not putting out at least a single with Dro. We helped AVIADOR DRO color-in the covers for “Nuclear Sí” but we didn’t even record the album with them.
Lucho: The truth is that, remembering it, it was a really fun time. We were great friends with all the groups. ZOMBIES, GABINETE CALIGARI, LOS PEGAMOIDES, we had parties in the apartment where we practiced, which was my parents’ house, and one day Olvido y Curra even got dressed up in Ger’s parents’ house… The first time we saw RADIO FUTURA it made a huge impression on us; it made us think that pop could be done in Spanish. That was a great time. I think the best part of it is that is was real. We felt like everything was possible. You lived in the moment and you could be a pop artist.
Luis, tell us a little about your relationship with the group and your first OVIFORMIA SCI moment.
Luis: I discovered them on “Pista Libre”. I was a huge fan of EL AVIADOR DRO Y SUS OBREROS ESPECIALIZADOS, they were going to be playing live and in the middle of the show they put the “Hablamos De Nosotros” video. It was incredible to see them and hear them. Later they were on other television programs and their songs were played on Radio 3. I think the videos and performances on “Caja de Ritmos”, “Pista Libre” and even “Musical Express” made these new groups at the beginning of the 80s even more popular.
Lucho: It’s true. I remember a few days after “Pista Libre” aired that my mom brought us a bag full of letters from people who had written to us after seeing that performance. We started corresponding with everyone, we started a type of Fan Club where we asked them about their favorite television shows and commercials.
Luis: I heard the group and I loved them. And Paco was going out with my cousin. I never met him, but he was her boyfriend and that was cool. A long time ago, before having these tapes, I asked Nacho Canut for OVIFORMIA’s contact information, I was really obsessed with two groups from the 80s that I liked a lot and that never released anything - LOS BUZOS and OVIFORMIA SCI. One day, talking to Ordovás I mentioned that I was looking for LOS BUZO’s demo, if he had it, because I wanted to release it, and the group didn’t even have it, and since they were from Vigo... I explained to Ordovás that I wanted to make a kind of collection of Spanish groups’ demos, and that demos were disappearing, and that the groups didn’t even have their own demos and it would be a shame if such an important legacy were lost. He gave me a ton of demos, hundreds of cassettes and some studio tapes, and that’s where the original OVIFORMIA SCI tapes were. I totally freaked out. To hear “Hablamos De Nosotros” again with good sound quality after so many years was so exciting; it was and continues to be one of my favorite songs of all times.
So, Luis Calvo [Elefant Records] called Lucho and…
Lucho: This was different. We saw the work that Elefant does and we listened to what it sounded like and we said yes.
What are we hearing, then?
Luis: Three reels with two songs on each reel were found. And we found a song that Lucho had and a version of “Mi Teletipo” sung by children. On the album’s digital version there are songs from a cassette-recording of a concert in the Amadís Gallery in 1982.
Lucho: We were amazed by Luis’ excitement, he was more excited about it then we were, and it was contagious.
Paco: The truth is that you forget.
Lucho: Thanks to social networks I realized that there are a lot of people interested in OVIFORMIA SCI.
Luis: I think it’s the only group of that time that was talked about in the media, was on television, and yet never released anything. By the way, you never played anywhere but Madrid, did you?
Lucho: No, although you meet people who say, “I remember when you played in Valencia” or “I have the album you released on Alfa Records.” I guess that’s what happens; a legend is created.
Luis: This was really a miracle.
Paco: That’s what happens sometimes - when you push toward something, the world works with you too. You were able to challenge the universe with that excitement and that drive, and the universe answered you. You made this miracle. This doesn’t show up on our doorstep; you go out looking for it and the universe answers.
We were kids. We were playing at OVIFORMIA. An adult is interested in the results, but a kid isn’t. We said, “Hey, we hear that WEA is offering this or that” and we said, “No, if they don’t offer us however much, no deal.” And we were nobody!
Lucho: I remember that “Ok, but the producer has to be Martin Rushent or Trevor Horn”, who at the time was the most expensive guy in the world; he had just produced ABC. We were really in our own world.
Challenging the universe.
It’s clear that OVIFORMIA SCI lived in a personal oasis. An accumulation of obsessions, fixations, and references that together could explain a lot about their modern sound. Locked up in their castle, obsessed with their techno-pop image and concerned exclusively with their dandy teenage routine, they created their own universe, unique both vitally and musically. Their eternal youth and to some extend their modus vivendi is perfectly rendered on this miraculous album you are holding in your hands: OVIFORMIA SCI in all their splendor. A magical ending for a truly special group.
Borja Prieto (@pepitoprieto)
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