Nivek Ogre

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Nivek Ogre
Kevin Ogilvie Headshot.jpg
Nivek Ogre in 2008
Background information
Birth name Kevin Graham Ogilvie
Also known as Ogre, ohGr
Born (1962-12-05) December 5, 1962 (age 54)
Origin Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Genres
Occupation(s) Vocalist, musician, performance artist, actor
Instruments Keyboards, synthesizers, guitar, vocals
Years active 1982–present
Labels Nettwerk Records, American Recordings, Spitfire Records, SPV GmbH, Metropolis Records
Associated acts Skinny Puppy, Rx, ohGr, Pigface, Ministry, Revolting Cocks, PTP, KMFDM

Nivek Ogre (born Kevin Graham Ogilvie December 5, 1962) is a Canadian musician, performance artist and actor best known as a founding member of the industrial music group Skinny Puppy.[4] Since that band featured another Kevin (Crompton, a.k.a. cEvin Key) and was produced by another Ogilvie (Dave, a.k.a. Rave), Ogre's alias was practical as well as theatrical. Since 1982, he has served as Skinny Puppy's primary lyricist and vocalist, occasionally providing instrumentation and samples. Ogre's guttural singing style and use of costumes, props, and fake blood on stage helped to bring Skinny Puppy extensive publicity and has inspired numerous other musicians.

He is also a member of the electronic music group ohGr, which he founded along with longtime collaborator Mark Walk. Originally named W.E.L.T., ohGr has released four studio albums since 2001, three of which have placed on Billboard's Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Ogre has also been involved with several other musicians and acts including the Al Jourgensen bands Ministry and Revolting Cocks, Pigface and Rx with Martin Atkins, and KMFDM. He has also done remixes for musicians such as John Carpenter and for the Demons (1985 film) remix album.

Ogre has on several occasions worked as an actor in low-budget horror films. He appeared as Pavi Largo in the rock opera film Repo! The Genetic Opera, as well as Harper Alexander in the comedy-horror film entitled 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams.[5] Ogre was reunited with Repo! director Darren Lynn Bousman for the 2012 musical short film The Devil's Carnival. In 2014, he starred in the Canadian film Queen of Blood.[6]

Early life[edit]

Ogilvie was born on 5 December 1962 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.[7] From a young age, he had imagined working in a studio as a singer, describing it as his own "manifest destiny".[8] He was also interested in magic and had attempted to become a magician, even joining the International Brotherhood of Magicians. He would entertain his parents with magic shows, noting that his tricks would often fail humorously.[9] Ogilvie has described his childhood as "introverted", and that he would take refuge in watching monster movies; he also enjoyed the horror fantasy writings of H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.[10]

As a child, Ogilvie was fascinated with words, often retreating to his basement to write several pages at a time and then play around with what he had written. "From that, I developed a keen sense of how words sound, how they can phonetically sound and be changed. How [these] words obviously have different meanings and with a slight displacement can take on almost a surreal meaning". This passion for vocabulary stemmed from Ogilvie's love of music and lyrics.[9] His subsequent musical stylings were informed by the likes of Brian Eno, Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, and Joy Division. He has also described the Cure album Pornography as a "transformative" record for himself.[11]

Ogilvie left Calgary for Vancouver, British Columbia at the age of twenty. "Vancouver has an edge to it; an attitude; an arrogance when it comes to music. I came there as a young 20-year-old from Calgary and entered into a world I’d never seen before".[12] In 1982, Ogilvie attempted to start a record distribution company using borrowed money, a venture that ultimately failed. Ogilvie was further troubled by the death of his father due to cancer and a divorce from his wife.[13] At the time, Ogilvie was roommates with Images in Vogue member Gary Blair Smith when he met Kevin Crompton, the drummer for Smith's band, at a party.[14] Ogilvie also met future collaborator Steven Gilmore, who he learned went to the same high school as he, Ernest Manning High School.[12] Crompton asked Ogilvie to join his project, Skinny Puppy, an invitation he accepted.[14] Images in Vogue recording engineer Dave Ogilvie also signed up.[15] They adopted stage names to avoid the confusion brought by having two people named Kevin in one group; Crompton became cEvin Key and Ogilvie became Nivek Ogre.[16]

Music career[edit]

Skinny Puppy[edit]

Ogre's work with Skinny Puppy has primarily been as the lead singer, though he would occasionally contribute work with percussion and synthesizers.[17] The first song he wrote for the group was titled "Canine" and helped establish the philosophy of writing songs about the world as seen through a dog's eyes;[18] "It was about a dog watching his master beat his wife and then questioning himself - should he be loyal to the man or rip his head off?", said Ogre.[13] Along with Bill Leeb (Wilhelm Shroeder), Ogre and Key produced the EP Remission in 1984 and released it through the new established Nettwerk label.[17] Next to follow were the full-length releases Bites in 1985 and Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse in 1986, the latter of which spawned their first single, "Dig It".

A photo of Nivek Ogre performing with Skinny Puppy in 1987.
Nivek Ogre performing with Skinny Puppy in 1987.

Many of Ogre's early songs, specifically from the album Bites, were about his ex-wife.[19] Following Bites, Ogre began to construct more politically and socially minded lyrics such as those for the song "Dig It", which he says describes "a fight to rise above in the work force/ which can turn into your early grave".[13] Ogre's writing would gradually become more "worldly" and "ecology-minded".[20] Animal rights and environmental degradation would become recurring elements in Skinny Puppy's music.[21] 1988's VIVIsectVI, written as "a biting commentary on animal rights",[22] spawned the single "Testure" which peaked at no. 19 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart.[23]

Skinny Puppy became known for their performance art laden live shows, a result of Ogre's use of costumes, props, and fake blood.[24] The set design for a live show often falls to Ogre, who usually builds the sets himself.[25] Ogre described the Too Dark Park tour as his career high point, during which he ran off what he called "car-crash energy".[8]

While recording the Skinny Puppy album The Process in Los Angeles, a split began to grow between the band members with Ogre on one side and the other two band members, Key and keyboardist Dwayne Goettel, on the other. In 1994, Skinny Puppy completed the master tapes for the album. Key and Goettel returned to Vancouver with the tapes while Ogre decided to stay in Los Angeles. Ogre quit Skinny Puppy in June 1995, two months before Goettel died from a heroin overdose.[26]

In 2000, Ogre reunited with Key as Skinny Puppy for the Doomsday Festival in Dresden.[27] Relations improved between the two band members after the performance and released The Greater Wrong of the Right in 2004; they followed this up with the release of Mythmaker in 2007 and hanDover in 2011.[26] In 2013, inspired by the news that their music had been used for torture at Guantanamo Bay detention camp, they released the album Weapon.[28] In early 2014, Ogre and Key sent the US government an invoice for $666,000 for the use of their music at the camp.[29] Ogre told the San Francisco Examiner that "They didn’t even use our actual recordings – they used bootlegs, so there was all sorts of hiss and distortion in the mix, which was probably even more disturbing to the person who was having it done to them".[30] In 2015, they embarked on the Down the Sociopath tour with Youth Code through North America.[31] A follow up tour in Europe entitled Down the Sociopath too Euro 2017 is scheduled to begin in May 2017.[32]

Collaborations with Al Jourgensen[edit]

Ogre's first collaboration with Al Jourgensen was in 1987 during the recording of the song "Show Me Your Spine" for the film RoboCop.[33] The song was recorded by PTP, a side project of Jourgensen's alongside Ministry cohort Paul Barker.[34] Jourgensen explained that he "didn't even know who he [Ogre] was, but somebody said he was some singer from somewhere, so I just said "hey man, make yourself useful, get in here and sing".[35] Ogre would later go on tour with Ministry to promote their album The Land of Rape and Honey in 1988.[8] Ogre asked Jourgensen if he would produce the 1989 Skinny Puppy album Rabies, a job he accepted. Jourgensen noted that there were "bad vibes" in studio since it had been Ogre, not Key and Goettel, who asked for assistance on the record; "Sometimes bad vibes make for great, tension-filled music, and that's what Skinny Puppy thrived on".[36]

Ogre next worked with Jourgensen on the Ministry album The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, receiving credit as a writer on the song "Thieves".[37] Ogre introduced Jourgensen to Toronto native Angelina Lukacin whose voice was recorded for the album closer "Dream Song".[38] Ogre joined Ministry on tour contributing guitars, keyboards, and vocals.[39] He said that "Playing with Ministry was insane everywhere, especially during the tour for The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, which had the cage set up at the front of the stage. It became all you saw, the cage separating you from the raging mass of people in front of you".[8] The single "Burning Inside" featured a live cover of the Skinny Puppy song "Smothered Hope",[40] with Ogre contributing vocals.[41]

Ogre had also worked with Jourgensen in the industrial group Revolting Cocks, originally as a touring member. Ogre mentioned that he "had a gas" while on tour, referring to it as an initiation; "My brain was rotating about four feet above my head".[35] He continued to work with the group by providing vocals for their 1990 effort Beers, Steers, and Queers.[42] However, Ogre declined the invitation to go on tour, noting that there were some tensions between Jourgensen and himself. "There were a few things that happened between me and him [Jourgensen] that really made me question our whole friendship and his reason for having me down there. So I decided to bow out of the Revolting Cocks tour. If I hadn't, I would have come back totally addicted to heroin".[43]

ohGr[edit]

A photo of Nivek Ogre performing with ohGr in 2011.
Nivek Ogre on stage with ohGr in 2011.

In 1989, Ogre and Jourgensen started the side project W.E.L.T. (When Everyone Learns the Truth). Some material was recorded, but the only song they released was turned into the Ministry song "The Fall" in 1995.[44] During the recording of The Process in Malibu, Ogre befriended Ruby member Mark Walk.[45] They revived the W.E.L.T. project by producing a 14-track album, but this was eventually shelved by their label American Recordings. Ogre became depressed as a result of the labels decision; he told Exclaim! in 1998 that to relieve the situation, he picked up a book on Pink Floyd and started playing the guitar. "That was really good for me, it was really good therapy. It took hours and hours of time that would have been spent fixating on a problem that there was really nothing I could do about".[46]

Ogre was kept on the label for three years, unable to do anything with the recordings. "It wasn’t until about 2000 that I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and went to see what was going on. I found out that all that time, I could have just walked away from it because no one was going to do anything".[45] Ogre and Walk landed a deal with Spitfire Records, but were unable to retrieve their original master recordings from American. This meant they had to rerecord the entire album, a feat which took them roughly three to four months.[47] Using the new moniker ohGr, the album was released as Welt in February 2001.[48] A video for the song "Cracker" was produced by Skinny Puppy collaborator William Morrison, who would join the group on tour. Also joining the tour was cEvin Key, who performed drums.[47]

ohGr would produce a further three albums including SunnyPsyOp in 2003, Devils in my Details in 2008 and UnDeveloped in 2011, all three of which landed on Billboard's Dance/Electronic Albums chart.[49] What makes ohGr different from Skinny Puppy, as Ogre explained to Westword in 2011, is that Skinny Puppy focuses on sound design with lyrics laid on top, while ohGr bases its music around lyrics. He stated further: "When we're performing live, with ohGr, we strip back a lot of the electronics and the stuff that doesn't need to be there...All the guitars out, all the bass out, when it's played live, and a lot of the keyboards are played live, too".[9]

Other musical ventures[edit]

Ogre became involved with Pigface, an industrial music collective formed by Martin Atkins, on their 1990 debut Gub, singing on the song "Tapeworm",[50] and was featured on the 1991 live album Welcome to Mexico... Asshole.[51] Ogre also contributed to the studio albums Fook (1992)[52] and Notes from Thee Underground (1994),[53] and the live album Truth Will Out (1993) as a guitarist.[54] Ogre again teamed up with Atkins to form the band Ritalin, later renamed Rx. The duo's only release, 1998's Bedside Toxicology, provided a showcase for Ogre's singing, something which he had worked on while spending time in Seattle.[55] Ogre also made several contributions to KMFDM, providing vocals of the song "Torture" on their 1997 album Symbols.[56] He joined the band as a guest musician for their Symbols tour. He said of his experience: "There was a really great vibe on that tour and I really got along with all the people and it gave me a chance to laugh maniacally".[57] He worked with KMFDM again in 1999, singing on the songs "That's All" and "Full Worm Garden" for the album Adios.[58]

Ogre appeared on The Final Cut's 1991 debut album Consumed along with Chris Connelly[59] and provided Monster Voodoo Machine a remix of the song "Copper Theft" on their 1994 album Defense Mechanism.[60] Ogre worked with Mark Walk on several tracks for the 1996 video game Descent II[61] and later on a remix of "Smothered Hope" for the album Remix dystemper in 1998.[62] The pair also provided a remix of the song "Edge of the World" by The Crüxshadows on their release Shadowbox.[63] He covered the song "Borderline" by Madonna for the album Virgin Vocies 2000: A Tribute to Madonna[64] and appeared on cEvin Key's 2001 solo album The Ghost of Each Room.[65] Ogre supplied a remix of the track "Wraith" for John Carpenter's 2014 album Lost Themes[66] and also contributed to the 2015 Demons (1985 film) remix album.[67]

Acting career[edit]

Overview[edit]

Ogre's first attempt at acting came in the form of an audition for the role of Funboy in The Crow, an experience which he described as being dreadful. "That's where for the first time I really hit that wall of 'whoa, this is very different than being on stage'. The read was with [the] male assistant director who was playing the female opposite me in a kind of sexy situation [...] I just lost my shit trying to make this work and thought, 'this isn’t for me'".[68] Skinny Puppy were to appear on the soundtrack with the song "Outafter" (which later appeared on the Download album The Eyes of Stanley Pain). However, Ogre nixed the idea as he felt the song sounded too "techno-y"; he later regretted this decision when he found out the film's star Brandon Lee liked the song.[69]

Ogre's first experience acting was alongside his Skinny Puppy cohorts in the film The Doom Generation. The film's director Gregg Araki, a Skinny Puppy fan, invited the band to play as a group of goons who attack a car. cEvin Key sustained several injuries from falling off the car; "[He] landed right on his face. Literally faceplanted into cement". Ogre later stated that, "I don't think we ever heard back from Gregg Araki after that, unfortunately. He's a great director, and it wasn't anything weird between us and him; it was just an odd thing that happened".[70]

Ogre returned to the screen in the 2008 Darren Lynn Bousman film Repo! The Genetic Opera as Pavi, a frequent partier who wears a mask of flesh.[71] The film was released in 11 theaters worldwide[72] and received mostly negative reviews from critics.[73] Ogre responded to the criticism, telling Arielle Castillo of the Miami New Times, "I'm not saying it's not without problems, it was a low-budget film [...] There are a few things like editing and connecting things, but it still works, it's still got a lot of heart".[74] Ogre later appeared as Harper Alexander in the Tim Sullivan film 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams, replacing Giuseppe Andrew who had played the character in the film's 2005 predecessor.[75]

Ogre reunited with Bousman for the 2012 horror musical short The Devil's Carnival and its accompanying road tour as The Twin.[76] He returned for the full-length feature sequel, 2015's Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival.[77] In 2014, he starred in Scream Park alongside Doug Bradley. In the film, he plays psychotic killer Iggy, who, alongside his partner Ogre (played by Ian Lemmon), hunt down crew members of a decommissioning amusement park.[78] He also appeared in the 2014 film Queen of Blood, the spiritual successor to director Chris Alexander's debut film.[79] Ogre was also featured in the 2016 documentary Diary of a Dead Beat, which follows the career of filmmaker Jim Van Bebber.[80]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1995 The Doom Generation Goon Uncredited; alongside cEvin Key and Dwayne Goettel
2008 Repo! The Genetic Opera Pavi Largo Credited as Ogre
2010 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams Harper Alexander
2011 The Key to Annabel Lee The Narrator Short film
2012 The Devil's Carnival The Twin Short film
2013 Scream Park Iggy
2014 Queen of Blood Preacher
2015 Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival The Twin
2016 Diary of a Dead Beat Himself Documentary film
2016-2017 Teen Wolf Ghost Rider Television series

Personal life[edit]

Ogre is known for being a staunch supporter of animal rights, often condemning animal testing as being "pointless". He explained his viewpoint in a 2000 interview with Zillo magazine: " No human being would want to endure that kind of torture. Who would want to be locked up in some sterile laboratory? I love animals more than anything."[81] This stance culminated in the 1988 Skinny Puppy album VIVIsectVI and its accompanying stage show, which featured re-enactments of animal experiments with a prop dog. These recreations we so provocative that the band was arrested and fined for being a nuisance to the public.[82]

In the period between the production of the albums VIVIsectVI and Last Rights, Ogre struggled with substance abuse. His addiction to drugs, coupled with his preference for working with Al Jourgensen, led to him often being the odd one out.[82] Ogre was admitted into hospital while touring with Pigface in Sweden. While there he learned he had contracted hepatitis A, and later went to seek treatment from a rehab center in Edmonton.[83] Reflecting on the turbulent production of 1996's The Process, Ogre said: "We all had drug problems but didn't know it from each other [...] I was in Los Angeles getting clean while the others were doing drugs in Vancouver."[84] Ogre remains an avid supporter for the legalization of marijuana.[85]

Writer Jolene Siana had sent Ogre numerous letters over a span of three years during the '80s. Following a chance meeting with Siana a decade later, Ogre returned these letters, which he had stored away in a box.[86] Siana then compiled the letters and published them in the book Go Ask Ogre: Letters From a Deathrock Cutter in 2005.[87]

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