Ellie Hewitt, - on 26/7/12
With releases on such techno pinicles as Transmat, Underground Resistance and their own 430 West Recordings, Octave One have rightfully earned themselves a seat in the techno hall of fame. Over twenty years of producing and taking their fully live set to stages around the world. With upcoming gigs at We Love Ibiza and Weekend Berlin, before a return to Australia we caught up with to speak about brotherly dominance, roadieing and a change of outlook afer 20 years.
Coming from a family of five boys who are all musically trained, was it always a certain thing you’d end up being in the music industry? Did you have any other aspirations? Funny that you ask that question. Even tho our parents (mainly our mother) loved to have us involved in musical programs and loved hearing and knowing we were involved in music around our home, music as a career really was not encouraged. We don't think it was a double standard or anything but we've always felt that they didn't feel that this type of art would sustain us very well financially. We come from for the most part from a family that worked in the automobile industry and were either educators, so there way of thinking was art primarily was for your personal enrichment and fun and not to go after as a career. Don't really know if any of us had any other career aspirations, we all pretty much were just filling our way through until we landed into something that we would consider to be a career, probably would have involved undoubtedly some form of business since we all have a knack for business.
Would you say you’re equal partners in production or is there a more dominant brother? There has never really been one brother that has been more dominant then the others consistently, but from time to time we all exercise our dominant 'gene' and take the lead and direction of a particular track. It just depends who has a more defined vision for what we're working on and/or what we all feel the direction should go. It's not always easy but in the end we all seem to yield to whoever might have the best idea for the track, cause we all have the best interest of the 'whole' in mind.
You entered the techno scene over 20 years ago with ‘I Believe’, how has your mentality changed since then? Honestly, since then we've had the opportunity ti see the 'good, bad and ugly' of the music business on a large and small scale and we've come to realize that even though we have such a deep passion and integrity for the music that that's only 50% of what is the music business (business of course being the other 50%). And we try to conduct ourselves in the most professional form as we possibly can every single time we approach the business side of things, although at times other artist might not fully understand our reasoning or viewpoint. And that professionalism seem to run into our live shows as well just out of practice, we have fun beyond what we can even explain but at the same time its strictly business too!
What are your great beliefs in life? Our beliefs as a whole are pretty much treat others as you would want to be treated and we always seem to find ourselves heavy rooters the 'underdog' or 'little guy'. We love to see the little guy win, it keeps things interesting and fun. [Laughs]
You used to roadie for Jazz bands, what valuable tips did you learn on the road and can you tell us about some of your favourite experiences? There many rewards we can say we gained from working early on with jazz artist. One thing that we can say we really learned was to stay humble, no one likes a haughty artist especially when you're among your peers who are all talented in some way. Humility goes a lot farther and has longer longevity as far as your career is concerned. Having a no fear approach as to what you can do in composing or performing a track live. On tour with Bob James he had the most amazing drummer named Herman Matthews and during one of the songs Bob was performing which we heard him play night after night Herman just started swinging his drums drastically in certain parts of the song. So he would go from this straight forward section of drum patterns to this insane swung heavily section and we watched the crowd just go bananas! Immediately after that tour we did the same in a track we produced called 'Nicolette' which turned out to be one of our classics. Working with those musicians really made us feel like they were a family in how they stuck by each other in big and small things, so much so we recall one instance when the promoter set up an elegant dinner for Bob and had arranged for the band to eat separately which he had bought KFC for. Bob told the promoter we all do things together as a family and thus we enjoyed KFC that night, which we got to see that everyone was of value and essential to the success of what we were doing even the roadies. [Laughs]
You moved from the hailed mothership city of techno Detroit to Atlanta, what were the reasons for this? Honestly, we just wanted a change of environment and pace of life. Things for us had become so routine for us in the D that it just wasn't inspiring for us anymore, so there wasn't any challenges for us and thus it became boring for us to be there. And we figured a change of pace would offer a spark in what we wanted to do creatively and also a different value of life. Now we feel we should have made the change a while ago, cause it feels like we've recharged and are focused on what we want to do.
Are you proud of your Detroit heritage? What other Detroit Techno giants do you rate? Yes, quite proud of our heritage of course! It really did give us the groundwork of who we are and how we create and without the culture that influenced us from the city we wouldn't have become the people we are today creatively. Don't know if we quite understand the "Detroit Techno giants" question fully but we rate all of them high because of what they've created and for the dedication that they had to have had for what they were doing, because you have to remember at one time this sound was not popular and even strange to some who heard it, so to stick with that style couldn't have been easy.
You’re off to Australia in September to play with Thick of Theives, what have been the greatest places you’ve played in to date and why? We often get this question or questions similar to this, but the truth of the matter is people are people. Especially those who like our style of music, so for us everyplace we play is the greatest because of those fans that enjoy what we do as much as we enjoy having the privilege to perform for them. But some of places that we get a kick out of seeing is cultures that are considered to be quite reserved and orderly come to see us and watching them shed that persona while we see them go bananas on the dancefloor. We simply love this!
You’ve released a lot of tracks on 430 West, a label that’s been around since 1991, what are the labels that mean most to you in terms of your musical education?Tell us about your upcoming single ‘New Life’? Is there any story behind the title? Having started our label in the early 90's there's been a lot of labels that we've admired and even studied, but the label that has stood out for us is one that we loved prior to starting our own. When we were djing back in the day there was one label that's collected much of our early income from working hard all week, Chicago's "Hot Mix 5"! We remember running to our favorite record shop and listening to tunes on top of tunes (that was our friday religious experience) and if we walked into the shop and saw any new record from this label on the wall we would immediately grab two of them, wouldn't even listen to them in the store just rush them home to hit the decks. Hands down that was a powerful label that understood there audience!
Well, 'New Life" is pretty much representative of where we are and what we're feeling at this moment in time. It's the first full vocal track since we've moved to Atlanta and that is pretty much solely inspired by the vibe that we've picked up from the city. We've also had the privilege of working with some writers and vocalist from the Atl which has added quite a unique twist to our style of producing music. Its really led to inspiration behind the title of the track 'New Life' because of how we feel that there's a new life and energy to what we love to do, produce inspiring music!
Octave One will be at We Love Space this weekend alongside Groove Armada, Derrick May and Blondes live. Tickets & Info here.
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