Doing. Is. Thinking.
The motivational debut album
Released 1st March 2024
OPD Green LP / CD / Digital
Title track 'Doing. Is. Thinking' single
Released 2nd February 2024
Limited edition Green Floppy Disk / Digital
ALBUM - Doing. Is. Thinking.
SINGLE - Doing. Is. Thinking. (RADIO EDIT)
‘What is the key principle of the Office for Personal Development?’ the Director asks from the stage.
‘Doing. Is. Thinking!’ replies the latest roomful of converts.
The motivational founder of the Bexhill-on-sea based startup is Trevor Deeble. Moments ago he was half-naked, inverted in a headstand conducting a one-man primal scream therapy session in front of a roller banner depicting himself beneath the slogan ‘here to help you achieve all of your personal development goals’. Illuminated by a stroboscopic water cooler as co-workers with flashing CRT computer monitor heads body-pop to the soundtrack of some of the most infectious lyrical synth-pop to emerge in decades, it’s fair to say this is not your usual motivational seminar.
If his face seems familiar you’d be forgiven for not being able to place it. He is an enigmatic and difficult to pin down figure. When not long out of his teens he graced the cover of the Times Music pages, when he went by the name Trevor Moss, flanked by his much hyped banjo and fiddle wielding South London proto-cult (they all adopted his surname Moss) Indigo Moss. Stardom seemed to be beckoning. Signed to Youth (Killing Joke) and Simon Tong’s (The Verve, Gorillaz, The Good The Bad And The Queen) Butterfly Recordings (Big Life) label, they were backed by Damon Albarn, played festival main stages and even a rooftop concert from atop The Royal Festival Hall. Then, quicker than you could serve the Kool-Aid, it was all over.
His next get rich not so quick scheme was an acoustic guitar picking, harmony-singing duo with his now wife and final enduring Indigo Moss devotee, Hannah-Lou. Together they would go on to release five albums on labels including Loose Music and Heavenly Recordings, working with producers including Dan Carey (Speedy Wunderground/Kylie/Hot Chip) and Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams/Kings Of Leon/Paul McCartney). Singing their hearts out into a single microphone, they toured extensively with Tori Amos, Ron Sexsmith, Loudon Wainwright, Beth Orton and more, everywhere from The Royal Albert Hall to The Ryman Auditorium to The Warsaw Congress. Then, yet again, just when a solid foundation seemed to have been laid, pastures new were calling him.
As is often the case, we need to look to the past to understand what motivates an individual like this. The son of civil servants, Trevor Deeble (which we believe to be his real name), led a nomadic childhood. He was born in Birkenhead before moving to Munich then back to the UK before returning to Germany to spend his formative years on a military camp, JHQ Rheindahlen, in industrial Nordrhein Westfalen, the motherland of electronic music. Every few years he had to start afresh. Severing all ties with friends and finding himself somewhere unfamiliar, but with the opportunity, or indeed the necessity, to become someone completely new. It’s a difficult question for him to answer when I ask him where he is from. His southern accent betrays his place of birth, and JHQ now lies abandoned, slowly being reclaimed by nature, a tragically poetic description of his rootless existence. It’s no wonder he creates his own universes to exist in, and invite you into.
Perhaps unsurprisingly he found his way to art school as so many outsiders and observers do. With his habitual haste he gained a place at London’s prestigious Goldsmiths College a year early, applying despite lacking the requisite entry requirement of a year long foundation course. They clearly saw something that wouldn’t wait. An institution famed for the avant garde, the birthplace of the YBA movement, and counting Damian Hirst, Tracey Emin, Rachael Whiteread, Sam Taylor-Wood and Brian Molko among its alumni, Deeble set about immersing himself in the worlds of art and music. With Office for Personal Development he seems to have finally found a vehicle that perfectly combines both.
Onstage tonight he is joined by two similarly besuited ‘employees’. Introduced as Head of IT, Del Querns and Goals Liaison Officer, Jenna Love, very little is known about them and their career paths to head office. Some say Del was headhunted from a former role programming barcode scanners and Jenna, a source close to her reports, attended an OPD seminar and quickly became immersed in the world of Personal Development and never returned home. The trio, all sporting the company issue uniform of grey double-breasted suits and shimmering green ties, deliver their message of self-fulfilment with bombastic aplomb, ending their ‘presentation’ in an explosion of green ticker tape as the enraptured congregation clap along in hypnotised unison.
I’m not quite sure what I have witnessed here, but what I’ve heard is a collection of songs as catchy as they are insightful. As instantly memorable as they are deserving of further listen. Don’t be distracted by the expertly executed corporate branding and art-pop concept, beneath the seductive synth-pop surface these songs are lyrically as full of socio-political observation as Deeble’s former folk world has to offer.
As the last of the ticker tape falls to the ground I feel compelled to hand over my life-savings to an operative at the merchandise table for a green tie and personal development plan.
Written by Josh Curtis, December 2023.