Stepping outside the Waiting Room, Buffalo to avoid the frigid air conditioning and unaccommodating security, members of the Electricept crew post up with Opiuo on the steps of a nearby church to discuss his the process of assembling his band and new productions- check it out below.
Electricept– We’ve absolutely got to start by talking about the band. You’ve said it was a sort of a natural progression- taking your sound to the next level for a really engaging active live experience. We’d love to hear more about the process of assembling this incarnation of The Opiuo Band. How did you go about selecting the musicians?
Opiuo- I took some four months to plan everything out myself before I even got anyone into it. I spent most of my time, apart from touring, working on and figuring out how to do it, pulling my tracks apart in order to adapt them to a band. I always knew I wanted someone doing something similar up there with keys or drum machines, and then a drummer, obviously, to sort of balance things out. The vocalist Serena (Syreniscreamy), I’ve worked with her a lot before, so I always knew she was always going to be a part- and then, I added a horn player because I wanted some brass.
EC- Of course. So the track selection for the band, did that come after “picking teams” when you had a better idea of how and who to integrate into each track?
OP- I didn’t want to play too many songs that didn’t really make sense to try to play live. I’ve got a lot of old songs that are just bass and drums- they’re kind of hard to translate for a full band. However, (laughs) there are some tracks that are just bass and drums that we are going to play that I’ve kind of newly written to do that, to fit in with musicians.
EC- You’re sending me back to the teasers I’ve seen for the tour, I know I’ve heard a few tracks that are yet unreleased…
OP- Oh yeah, it goes into one of those towards the end of the videos.
EC- Nice. Oh, Now this is one we came up with on the ride here, I think many people are curious- how do you come up with all these ridiculous names for tracks and whatnot? Do you have one of those naming charts in the studio, like the ones you use to figure out your pimp name or god name or whatever?
OP- Nope, I just kind of follow my own brain and Whooooo- Off I go.
EC- No, really, its strange how much sense those titles make, we were listening to “Clumpy Cider” earlier- with that woodblock in there, you can almost picture like, clumps swirling around a jug.
OP- Yeah. That’s actually where it comes from. I just sit there and think- “what can I associate with this?” I kind of see color in stuff too when I’m listening to music.
EC- Are you a Synesthete?
OP- No, not quite like an actual person who has that kind of thing, but I’ll just be sitting there and I kind of let it [a track] take over and then I imagine what I imagine, instead of like, trying to think up a funny name. Really, the association comes first, and then I might try to twist things to make it sound a bit silly.
EC- So the unreleased material that you’re playing out with the band, are you ready to release any of it? Any hard, scheduled release coming into view?
OP- Yeah. I didn’t want to rush into it, I could’ve worked my ass off and put a release out before we started, but I didn’t feel like it fit into the evolution of the band.
EC- Do these unreleased “numbers” only exist within the band at this point?
OP- No and yes. I have recorded versions for a lot of them, but they’re not all fully finished yet. What I basically did was I had a bunch of this music that I had written already [when conceptualizing the band], so I had to go back and find all this music and pull it apart, then figure out who could play what and how we would do it. I’d say, ok- “bounce those bits, pull those bits out, re-sample them, re-synthesize them…”, whatever I could do to get these tracks so we could “play” them.
Then, there are all the newer ones that aren’t quite finished yet, we’ve adapted them together and finished them on the road. As we’ve gone, we’ve played them a lot, so I’ve got something in my head going “that works pretty well, and that doesn’t. Then I can go home and do the finishing touches. For me, it was important to include the performance part, so I’d go in to the band and say- “Try this, but then if they play it differently somehow, or sing it some other way, or something else changes about it, then I’m open for that adaption.
EC- Is that sort of a new experience for you? I know a lot of producers who say they became producers so that they could have that control over the music they write, so they don’t have to rely on others.
OP- (laughing) Oh, I’m still a control freak for sure. I definitely have all of the control. I know how I like it, but a lot of the times I just know what I don’t like more than what I like. (laughs) So, if someone does something differently, some way that makes a track possibly better, I’m like- “Fuck. That’s the shit, lets do that”.
I like the freedom of this, I want us to evolve. So, I’ll still do both; I’ll still do the band, I’ll still do my solo stuff, I’ll still do the random DJ sets. But the band thing can just evolve as it goes because we can adapt it, we can combine it together…it’s open ended, there’s no real plan.
EC- So you’re definitely going to keep the band together for touring in the future?
OP- Yeah. There’s no definite for anything ever in my life but where I’m at right now, and the fact that I want to keep doing what I’m doing.
OP- Musically, you just live… well I do, I live day by day in the sense of what I’m feeling and what I want to do. The band is something I’ve used my time and money for because that’s what I wanted to do.
EC- I sort of- happen to know that these band compositions aren’t the only things you’ve been working on in the past year. A little bird told me that you began some tracks over in Bristol with Jim Bastow and Will Weeks of KOAN Sound. Are these collaborations ever going to see the light of day?
OP- Mmhmm. We’re actually getting together in the studio when I get back to Melbourne.
EC- Oh really now? They’re going to log some studio time in Australia? Brilliant!
OP- Yeah, but, (waves his hands in the air) who knows when that’s going to happen… or when it will be released. The thing with me and music is that if I have a due date or something, it’s the worst thing for my brain, because i’m like “fuck” and then I have to finish it as opposed to leaving it be. I’d rather take my time and be totally into it, instead of just releasing everything all at once.
Recently, I’ve spent the last six months just focusing on the band. I didn’t want to worry about trying to get music done and trying to get all of the other shit done that goes with a release, and now, when we’re finished with this tour in a few weeks, I’ve got all this time to go back to production stuff with different people and I’m just going to go nuts in the studio for a little while. It’s been a long time since I’ve really dedicated my time to that.
EC- All the way back to the Meraki sessions?
OP- Oh I’ve made a lot of music since then, I just haven’t put it together yet.
EC- But that was like, the last chunk of time you spent in the studio, working hard-body to finish something?
OP- Mmm, yeah I did spend a lot of time working on that and then toured it for about six months. I can’t really write music when I’m touring, it’s just a bit crazy. The last couple months off, (sort of), before summer in Australia, I wrote a lot of music for the summer and I’ve got all of that music, some of its adapted for the band, some of it’s not. I’ve got easily a dozen songs now that I can play and work with.
EC- We definitely appreciate your time off. So many producers refuse to get off the road because of how lucrative touring is, so they’ll produce- well, what I’ve widely criticized as “road albums.”
OP- Yeah, well if you think about the producers you really like or that stick out in your mind, for me anyway, there’s only a certain few things that I’ve ever heard where I love them and that’s what I love about them. It’s like, if you’ve got a million tracks out, it dilutes the good stuff. I mean but it works for some people because that’s the kind of aesthetic or the kind of thing they have, whether they’re teaching, or the whole thing is discovering new ways because they want to show other people how to do it at the same time. So that works for them, they can kind of just chew things out and off it goes. For me, I’m all about quality.
EC- And it shows. We can’t wait for the show. Oscar, thank you for your time. -EC