MARTIN Andrews, a chap in a hoodie, throwing exciting new moves, banging electronic music on stage. Here, in Oxford city.

There has long been electronic music here, but, as with the Bow match worker’s strike of 1888, it has taken a grassroots effort, to deliver it to us.

That effort has been lead by local independent labels, fanzines such at the legendary Nightshift, upstarts Oxfordshire Music Scene, The Oxford Times, and a huge effort by thinkers such as Young Women’s Music Project’s pioneering force Zahra Tehrani.

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One of my favourite acts is Martin – who plays under the name Octavia Freud – and lives near Hinksey Park.

I meet Martin at Akiport Cafe, a Portuguese coffee shop, where he told me about his new project Gary – an experimental synth act formed with Phil Jarvis, a member of absurdist comedy collective and Edinburgh fringe favourites Consignia.

Tonight (Saturday, May 20) they will perform a 45-minute musical show based on their debut concept album, ‘Gary, I love you’, at Modern Art Oxford.

“When we first recorded the album we both knew that we had to offer a physical immersive world for the audience,” he tells me.

Oxford Mail: Boy in the hood: Octavia Freud. Picture by Jason Warner, Fyrefly Studios

Boy in the hood: Octavia Freud. Picture by Jason Warner, Fyrefly Studios

So back to the beginning: how did he get interested in music?

“I grew up in a musical household,” says Martin, who grew up in Salford. “My dad collected records, thousands of them, jazz, blues, folk, rock. There was some really cool Krautrock, psychedelic and early electronic albums that I inherited when he died.”

Did the family all listen to the same stuff while he was growing up?”

“We did, but through barely closed doors, where soundtracks merge together. My older sisters were punks and new wave fans as teenagers, so I got to experience those sounds too.”

He has an impressive knowledge of music – particularly Chicago house.

“Growing up in Manchester was a big influence,” he says. “The family used to live a few houses down from Morrissey in Stretford and I used to go to the Hacienda as a teenager. When I started going to gigs and clubbing, it was when acid house and the Manchester indie scene really took off.”

How did that transform into him making the music that turns into the performance Oxford is going to witness on Saturday?

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“I got to experience my own teen music moment,” he says. “The other major influence was moving to London in the mid 90s and being part of the South London electronica scene. I helped to set up a little electronic label and had DJ residencies in Shoreditch and The Heavenly Social in the 2000s while being in a nu rave post punk band.”

Why did he move to Oxford instead of, say, Barcelona – where there was already stuff going on that is beginning to happen here?

“Moving to Oxford was actually a time when I had a break from making music to be a stay-at-home dad looking after our daughter. To help get back to making music again I started making music as my Octavia Freud alter ego. so no one knew who I was and I could find my sound again.”

Oxford Mail: Octavia Freud. Picture by Jason Warner, Fyrefly

Octavia Freud. Picture by Jason Warner, Fyrefly Studios

For his early releases in Oxford, no-one knew who he was, aside from me and Ronan Munro at Nightshift. He was always humble about these inventions as a dad. So where did ‘Gary’ come from?

“I guess the Gary concept is an extension of ideas exercised as a duo, and based on a fictional character,” he answers. “Music has always been the soundtrack to my life wherever I have been. I am 51 now so to still try to be creative without putting too much pressure on myself to prove anything is pretty fun.”

The performance tells the story of Gary, a carpet salesperson from Basingstoke and his drunken lost weekend trip to Norway. It is narrated by Dave the seagull, a recovering chip addict. It is part political theatre, part absurdist musical about an everyman struggling to come to terms with his lack of agency in a broken country, while facing up to the consequences of abandoning the left for the price of a kebab.

Martin elaborates: “Dave, a nothern seagull with a chip addiction, follows Gary onto the ferry to help him.

“The seagull represents a more traditional working class socialist voice that hasn’t abandoned the left and still believes in community above the selfish individual.

“Rather than demonising the working-class, who are victims of their petty pleasures, the seagull is able to transcend his hedonistic chip addiction to a higher pleasure John Stuart Mill would describe as utilitarianism.

Oxford Mail: Octavia Freud. Picture by Jason Warner, Fyrefly

Octavia Freud. Picture by Jason Warner, Fyrefly Studios

“The seagull completes his task when he uses collective direct action of his fellow Norwegian seagulls to free Gary from the scary ‘other’ Sven, who drowns at sea. It is only when the working class admit their error of allegiance to this government by colluding with their prejudices and rhetoric will we see a return of the red wall working class back to the left and a Labour Party victory at the next election.”

Modern Art Oxford seems the correct venue for the correct show. I can’t think of any better Oxford venue where you can make every exhibition a gig, and every gig an exhibition.

“Art has a way of reflecting the times and projecting a preferred future and that is what is Gary is attempting to do – but through the medium of absurd musical theatre rather than patronising explicit political discourse.”

Gary I Love You is at Modern Art Oxford tonight (Saturday, May 20). Tickets from