FEATURED ARTIST INTERVIEW: OCTO OCTA
We recently had the opportunity to chat to one of our favourite artists and one of house music’s most talented; Michael Bouldry-Morrison aka Octo Octa. The Brooklyn based producer and DJ first came to our attention back in 2011 with the release of his stunning debut EP ‘Let Me See You’ on 100% Silk, described by label head Amanda Brown (LA Vampires) as “literally one of the favourite songs ever released on either of my record labels”. He went on to produce three further releases for the label: ʻRough, Rugged, and Raw,ʼ ʻOh Love,ʼ and an eventual collaboration with Amanda Brown, the ʻLA Vampires by Octo Octaʼ release “Freedom 2K.”
He is now at the forefront of a scene of house-not-house producers, and has garnered widespread critical acclaim in both traditional electronic music and indie-minded musical circles. But we were keen to go back to the beginning, to find out how and why he started this musical journey;
OcOc: I first started to make music when I was 15 probably. I had always wanted to do music but I didn’t have the patience to learn any instruments other than, like, clarinet in school, but I never practiced. Around 15 I saw my friends play a show in a garage and they were using a roland mc-307, microkorg, and a computer which blew my mind. I had been listening to electronic music for a long time and found out that if I got a drum machine I could start fooling around with making music. So I got a Korg ER-1 for $80 and went off from there making stuff everyday. Anything and everything inspired me to make music, mostly the act of needing to produce something is what got me started.
(When Making a Track) I used to always start with percussion, but that’s when I was mostly making IDM type tunes and I was just experimenting with everything. Now I always start with making a synth sound. I make most of my leads and bass from ‘scratch’ and I’ll start to play around with melodies depending on the sounds I come up with. After that I’ll add some basic percussion to kind of glue it and then I’ll start with whatever delayed claps or toms I’m gonna use. This is all loop based though. Once I get a bunch of loops together then I’ll start to work with arranging them. Sometimes that leads to a song, but most of the time it’s just an interesting 16bar loop. I have a lot those loops right now haha!
He has developed a brand of brand of perfectly crafted, deep, RnB sampling house music, which is both emotional and unique, and he enjoys the freedom that producing modern electronic music gives him;
OcOc: I pretty much just say I do house or dance music, but I know it kinda runs around more than that. The end result of the songs is that I should be outta my chair jumping around my apartment. If it can do that then I’m happy. So whatever the genre is at the end it doesn’t really matter. Everyone is doing that these days though, right? The lines feel pretty loose right now as to what people will let you get away with.
His 2011 collaboration with Amanda Brown,on the ʻLA Vampires by Octo Octaʼ release “Freedom 2K.” Was a huge success, but he says working with other artists isn’t always easy;
OcOc: I normally have a pretty tough time working with other artists for some reason. Not that I don’t want to incorporate other people’s ideas, but I’m so used to working alone that it can be hard for me sometimes. I’ve been doing a couple things with Magic Touch that I’m excited about. Hopefully some cool stuff will come out of that. I would definitely like to work more with other people, but I think I need them in the room with me to do it. I think I would ideally love to work with Move D or Floating Points. I could definitely use some mentoring from some older producers.
The success of his productions has led to worldwide recognition, and he has recently completed a European tour. He says connecting with his audience and witnessing their reaction to his music in a live setting, is an enjoyable and fruitful process;
OcOc: Playing live definitely gives you instant feedback as to how your tunes are working. When I play live though I normally play the danciest songs I have cause I want to keep everyone moving and excited. It’s perfect for working out newer tracks and super important to see that reaction.
My favorite date from the last tour was playing at Salon Zur Wilden Renate in Berlin w/ Magic Touch. Played at 6am Monday morning and just wild out, lost my glasses and hoodie, jammed out shirtless and was running on vodka mates. So good! Best crowd reaction of the tour too. Awesome sound in a small room. I can’t wait to go back.
His stock is certainly on the rise, and his recent selection as a participant for the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy, along with the imminent release of his new LP on 100% Silk, suggests that 2013 could prove to be his biggest year yet;
OcOc: The album is now officially coming out May 28th on 2LP and CD on 100% Silk. I wrote it very much as an album and not a bunch of singles with filler. Its 8 tracks and flows paired, 2 a side over the 2 records. It was a pretty emotional record to put together and it took a lot of out me for a bit, so I’m happy it’s finally coming out. It has themes of happiness, anxiety, queerness, and relationships.
Things are pretty open right now. I’m working on more tunes and talking to some people about releases, but I gotta get more tracks done. Hopefully another EP or single will be out by the end of the year with ‘So Lux’ and ‘Give’ on it. Red Bull Music Academy starts in two weeks which is exciting. And I’m going to go back to Europe again by the end of summer. Hopefully get to the UK properly this time!
Thank you to Octo Octa for taking the time to talk to JAC Department. To hear more from him check out his Soundcloud
Work Me (Taken from the forthcoming album)
Octo Octa Live @ Boiler Room LA