A love affair with Opiuo‘s music is only going to lead to eternal happiness; that much I can say with confidence. Oscar Davey-Wraight – the mind behind the music – has defied genre stereotypes over his decade-plus career, by constantly upping his game and delivering fresh songs with crisper production and more funk than you can handle. Last year he offered two releases to his fans, Syzygy 01 – the first in a series of EP’s – and his first live album, Opiuo x Syzygy Orchestra Live At Red Rocks. The latter was one of my musical highlights of 2018, Opiuo managing to combine his delicious blend of glitch and funk with a live orchestra. The result is an album and experience on par with anything you’ll experience from the musical greats of the electronica scene.
I was thrilled to get the chance to send some questions Oscar’s way, and now I’m writing this I’m certain I could’ve asked so many more too. I know from his social media updates that for as long as I’ve followed him, he’s been jam-packed with his music, either playing a string of live shows or releasing a new track on his SoundCloud (seriously, try scrolling to the bottom of it without getting repetitive strain injury). The first question on the table was – where in the world was he?
‘Currently at home and in the studio! It’s so good. Get to have some downtime, make some music, and hang with my girlfriend.‘
Putting myself in his shoes for a minute, I thought to myself how I’d feel having dropped my thirteenth release, and having played the legendary Red Rocks arena. Asking which was the highlight was a no brainer.
‘I would say I am feeling super proud to have pushed my boundaries to the max the last couple of years. I conquered some dreams I’ve had for most of my life. And doing the Syzygy Orchestra at Red Rocks was definitely a highlight.‘
Syzygy 01 was a smorgasbord of styles, with sounds from his early releases such as the more jarring glitch-hop beats used, alongside the jazzier influences from his last two studio albums. Syzygy 01 was the first of a series of EP’s (much like his Butternut Slap EPs); thusly, we were keen to find out more about the upcoming release, and where the focus is for him.
‘I am currently finishing it up this week. I have many different elements going on, and I feel it’s in keeping with the Syzygy vibe. Definitely some OG Opiuo energy in there, as well as pushing myself forward. Even recorded some string sections for one of the songs. I’m just having fun being creative and trying things.‘
Now, before you go any further, please start playing the video above and experience what I consider to be one of the greatest electronic shows ever. Being on the opposite side of the world, it was interesting to hear if these versions will be played when Opiuo does solo tours, and if they would form a key part of his sound in the future.
‘I won’t be playing those recordings live when I play solo. They’re a live recording, so they don’t translate as well in a solo performance environment. But, I am looking at trying to make some more music with orchestral parts – we will see where that goes.‘
My personal journey through electronic music to discovering Opiuo is a story in itself. We wanted to find out how he ended up settling with his signature sound, and where he plans to take it next.
‘I came from festival and party realities since I was very little. It was an incredible environment to grow up in, and paved the way for me to love music and the general atmosphere of people really enjoying the freedom it can bring. I used to DJ trance 20 years ago, and slowly morphed into drum n bass and breaks, then took my own journey and tried to incorporate as much of that as possible into a new sound. There has never been an end goal, or defined destination, I’m just making what I want today, and letting the vibes flow.‘
We usually question artists about their gear, and electronic artists should be no different! Starting with DAWs, research tells us that Opiuo is an Ableton man, and we wanted to find out why, and what plugins he might use to bring the noise.
‘I actually only recently switched from Logic. But now I love the work flow of Ableton. I love the FabFilter plugs, Serum, Diva, some UAD like the Lexicon reverb, Massive Passive EQ, and been getting into Valhalla reverb too. Most of my sounds comes from hardware like my Prophet 6, Moog Voyager or Virus Polar. Getting geeky is fun!‘
Let us be honest, it is not always great to meet your heroes. A much better idea is to get an idea of how they started on their own road to greatness…
‘Be yourself. Study other music for its sonic placement, and be inspired, but always try to find your own lane. You will forever feel endless more satisfaction knowing what you are making is YOU.‘
Looking at his live shows, Opiuo has one hell of a set-up, and he’s always moving between each one. So getting onto gear, we asked what he uses for these shows and what is on his shopping list.
‘I have had so many different incarnations of Opiuo I wouldn’t know where to start with the instrument list. From electronic drums, and synths, to a full 5 piece band with brass, guitars, bass, vocals, real drums, and percussion, to a 20 piece orchestra with strings, horns, and all the fun things. At the mo I am looking at building a new studio in its own small building. Not sure when it will start, but that is at the very top of my shopping list!‘
As mentioned, Oscar is usually seen at a festival in the Pacific, or in the US. We asked which one he was most looking forward to playing this time.
‘So many! I love how all festivals are just that little bit different. They all bring something unique to this musical landscape and I can’t wait to be inspired by it.‘
We’ve talked about music, we’ve talked about gear. Yet everyone needs a focus in their life. We asked if there was an endpoint for his music, or if he would keep looking to evolve it.
‘I move the posts every single day. Maybe its a blessing, maybe its a curse, but it keeps me motivated and into what I do. I never want to say ”I’ve done it” as I feel like I might as well give up at that point. I do this because I absolutely love it. No other reason.‘