LWE Podcast 190: Octo Octa

PODCAST-190-1

The past three years have seen Amanda Brown’s label 100% Silk release so much music it’s quite frankly a bit difficult to digest it all. Undoubtedly its stand-out moment of 2013 (and perhaps the entire catalog to date) was Octo Octa’s Between Two Selves album. The eight lush, sun ripened house tracks stood their own amongst a horde of throwback genre releases last year without ever themselves sounding contrived or merely derivative. Some may have been surprised to find that this was in fact the third album for the Brooklyn based producer, born Michael Bouldry-Morrison in Chicago. His first outing on the label (which has been home to all of his releases so far) was the Let Me See You EP, followed swiftly by a cobbled together collection of working tracks that formed the Rough, Rugged and Raw album a few months later. A collaborative album in 2012 with Brown and her LA Vampires project matched Bouldry-Morrison’s melodic rhythms with Brown’s ethereal, poppy vocals. LWE discussed vocals with the producer, the love he has for his 100% Silk family, and found out why we won’t be hearing too many remixes from him. He also put together our 190th exclusive podcast; an outstanding collection of house music and a truly sublime intro thanks to his light fingers and his dad’s own record collection.

Download LWE Podcast 190: Octo Octa (42:01)

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Tracklist:

01. The Alan Parsons Project, “Nucleus” [Arista]
02. Linkwood, “System” [Prime Numbers]
03. Jordan GCZ, “Crybaby J” [Off Minor Recordings]
04. Black Jazz Consortium, “Stay” [Soul People Music]
05. Round Two, “New Day” (Club Vocal Mix) [Main Street Records]
06. Ani, “Love Is The Message” [Prescription Classic Recordings]
07. ElĂ© Ferrer, “I’ll Make U Happy Baby” (X-tended Club Mix) [Emotive Records]
08. Rhode & Brown, “Joyride” (w/ Schegg) [Toy Tonics]
09. Dax, “Concept (Dream-a-pella Mix) [Airplane! Records]
10. Larry Heard, “Missing You” (Original Mix) [Alleviated Records]

Hey Michael, how are you doing? What’s going on for you right now?

Michael Bouldry-Morrison: I’m doing all right at the moment. Taking a breather from touring which I just did for what feels like a solid year. Now I’m home working on tunes and watching too much TV. More TV than tunes it feels like most days.

You’ve been releasing for just a couple of years, but already have three album credits to your name. Did you already have a lot of material finished and ready to go or do you work pretty quickly in the studio?

When I started working with 100% Silk I didn’t really have a ton of housey stuff ready, but I was getting a lot of demos done. Productivity comes in fits where I make a bunch and then have a couple months of nothing or absolute garbage tunes. The first “album” was actually just a tour tape of extra material from the first two EPs that Amanda and I later decided to also release digitally. I didn’t mean for it to be an album, but it works as one. Between Two Selves was the only real attempt at specifically writing an album.

Everything you’ve released has come out on 100% Silk. How did you hook up with them?

I was having a really shitty time at work and decided one day that I should finally start sending out demos to people. I was writing IDM/breakcore tracks solo for a long time and then started working on some more dance floor friendly tunes which I enjoyed more than anything I had written by myself for years prior. I was a big fan of NNF at the time and saw that they started a dance-specific label and they had an email on the page. So I made a Soundcloud and wrote to Amanda first. She got back to me a few hours later asking to put something out.

Will the exclusive relationship with the label be an ongoing thing?

I was never planning on working only with one label, but Amanda was just crazy receptive and supportive of what I was doing, so I happily kept doing things with her and not sending demos to anyone else. Also, no one else ever really came by asking for anything at times when I might have had tunes to send. I’m working with a couple of other labels this year though which is fun, but I plan on continuing to work with Silk; they’re like family now.

Tell us about the Freedom 2K album you did with LA Vampires. How did it come about and how did the process work?

Amanda does a collaboration with each release and really wanted to work with me almost right after I sent her the first tracks I made. So I wrote five demos figuring she’d choose two for a release and we’d work from there. Instead she chose them all and went to town on ’em with Nick and Britt, which was dope. I didn’t actually hear the finished product until we went on tour together in 2011.

Had Amanda already written the lyrics for some songs or did you both start fresh?

We both started fresh on them, but I was hands-off on her end of it. Once I sent the demos that was about it for my involvement.

Was it the first time you’d worked with a vocalist? Did it open up some different avenues for you in terms of how you approach making music?

My wife is actually the first person I directly worked on vocals with. “I Can Feel You (Dub)” off the Oh Love EP was the first song I had her sing on. She also subsequently did a couple of the vocals with me on songs off Between Two Selves. I treat recorded vocals the same way I treat an acapella sample. I still like making them looped samples instead of verse/chorus pieces.

I did work with someone on one song that’s coming out on the next Silk 12″. It worked kind of the same way I did those tracks with Amanda. I sent an instrumental to this artist, Raw Moans, and he did a multi-track vocal that I then edited slightly. I’m really happy with how it came out, but I don’t think it’ll be a regular thing.

What was your musical background? Have you been in bands before or has it always been electronic music for you?

Electronic music has always been my favorite thing since I was a kid. I started making electronic music when I was 15 and I bought my first drum machine to be in a friend’s “band.” Since then electronica is really the only thing I ever worked on. I wasn’t working towards dance specifically until I was in college and did a band with a friend where we recorded all the drums and synth beforehand and then performed the songs karaoke style at every college party for years. Hosting all these dance parties are what made me stop listening to so much IDM and focus more on dance music.

Were you a DJ or a producer first?

I tried to be a DJ when I was 13 and I bought a Numark belt-drive DJ pack. I never saved enough though to get anything interesting record collection wise; too many video game purchases, New Hampshire didn’t have a lot of record stores, and drum n bass was hard to come by. After producing some in school I started to collect records again but I only recently started to go out and DJ.

You’ve just had the one remix out so far for Gravious’ “Rolling Thunder” track. How did that come about? Was it the first time you’d remixed someone and if so how did you find the experience?

It was actually the first remix I did, but it took a long time to come out. I did a couple others to varying success since then. I’m not really a fan of doing remixes because 90% of the time I’m just writing an entirely new track using only a couple elements of their original tune which normally feels like a cheap interpretation of their original work. Hopefully I’ll get better at it.

Do you have any more lined up?

I have one I’m working on now and one coming out on a Ponty Mython release at some point.

You’ve obviously got a deep love of classic house, which comes through in your tracks. Any not so obvious influences that you feel shape what you do?

I’m a big fan of Rick Wade who never really seems to get all that much love when people talk about influences. Prescription releases are also really important to me. I loved a smooth jazz station when I was super young and still living in Chicagoland, so a lot of cheesy jazz sounds get me going and remind me of being a kid. Also DJ Sprinkles is probably the most important person to me at the moment. Terre seems to be involved in all my favorite songs.

Is Octo Octa your only musical outlet. Do you have any collaborations or other projects that you work on?

Octo Octa is definitely my main outlet. I feel that moniker can encompass whatever I’m working on. The only collaboration I have going right now is a couple songs I did with Magic Touch that are coming out on his next record. I’m not always the best at collaborating, but I’m getting better. I can click really fast with some people and I’m hoping to try it out more in the near future.

What can you tell us about the mix you put together for us?

It’s a short and sweet mix mostly made up of records I picked up on a couple Euro trips this year (except for Alan Parsons, which I took from my dad a number of years ago). So it’s kind of a 2013 scrapbook for me. Listening to it makes me think about walking around Berlin on off days doing nothing in particular — Ritter Biscuit bars and beers.

What can we expect from Octo Octa in the next year?

I have two EPs and a single coming out around spring on 100% Silk, Skylax, and Argot. A track on the next Permanent Vacation comp and some collab tunes on Magic Touch’s next record. Working on more songs and hopefully getting another album done by the end of the year!

Sebastian  on January 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM

I stole my three Alan Parsons records from my dad as well :)

Doug Brennan  on February 7, 2014 at 11:32 AM

nice mix :)

p.s. especially the in/outros!

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