Ookay talks haters, rehearsing for 12 hours, and new single, ‘Bad Habits’ [Q&A]

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Ookay talks haters, rehearsing for 12 hours, and new single, ‘Bad Habits’ [Q&A]Screen Shot 2018 10 08 At 4.58.45 PM

Wow! Cool Album! is more than just a project title — it’s Ookay‘s whole personality. Hailing from Chula Vista, Abraham “Abe” Laguna is not the average producer. Beyond his warm and friendly personality that exudes positive energy, a rarity in the music sphere, he’s also one who puts his vulnerability on full display in multiple facets of his life. One such bit of himself he’s exposed is his stylistic evolution, in which he’s been documenting his transition from heavy trap, house, and big room into more mainstream, pop-friendly sounds.

Exploding on the dance music scene with his 2016 single, “Thief,” Ookay has since continued to perfect his craft as a singer, songwriter, DJ, producer, and performer. Dancing Astronaut caught up with Ookay ahead of his sold-out show at The Fonda in Hollywood.


For those who don’t know, who is ‘Ookay,’ and where does he fit in the realm of dance music?
Ookay is a little Mexican boy from San Diego, who makes music in his bedroom. Gets to play for pretty much the world. I’ve been DJing for about four or five years. I recently started doing a live show with my new album, which is something we’re debuting for the first time. A little bit of the new album I’m working on currently, and the stuff people know and love already.

My sound little bit of everything: trap, future, pop, dance elements — there’s dubstep, even. To be able to do all these different types of things like singing, songwriting, producing, and performing, I’m pretty much a one-man band.

How has your sound evolved over the years?
When I was making this album, it came to a point when I was playing shows and DJing where I wasn’t able to play the songs I was making anymore. It just wasn’t fitting what I was playing prior because of the songs that people knew me for. I needed to take a second approach to what I do and how I perform my music.

Why did you feel it wasn’t a fit for you to perform?
Just because of my background and what I have already created a fan base doing. It’s more like put your hands up, rave, drops, buildups, and all that. To go a new direction was something that I had to teach myself. I had to project to people in a way that ended up being a live show. For me, I didn’t really have a choice almost. I had so much good music, but no way of playing it — properly, in the right setting. I couldn’t go from a heavy super Excision dubstep track and then play “Fight 4 U” or “Loved or Lost.” What I did was I took some time off to focus on finishing the album and work on this live set, which took a lot of my life span.

Wow! Cool Album! is your first album. How long did it take you?
It took me three years. It’s a collection of all the music I’ve made in three years, that I was unable to play. Being able to finally do this was great.

At what point did you realize it was good to go?
We didn’t. What happened was I got a booking for an Ookay live show before I even created it. I started to panic and thought, ‘Well now I have to figure this out!’ [laughs] I was kind of put on the hot seat and the spotlight, but it gave me the motivation I needed. The pressure really helped me finally put this together. Being able to sing, practice all the instruments, play everything and perform on stage, it was something I had to practice every day for 10 to 12 hours. Even yesterday, I rehearsed for 10 to 12 hours. That’s just how long it takes.

“Thief” has more than nine million views on YouTube. Did you foresee it blowing up like this?
No way! I made that song probably a year or two before it even released. I was always really nervous. I remember the first time I played it was with GRiZ on New Year’s Eve. The only reason was because I knew he played saxophone in his set. I was like, ‘Oh, I think the crowd would enjoy a song with saxophone.’ That was my first time ever playing that song, and I closed with it. I remember thinking, ‘I really hope this goes well.’

I had to stop all the music because at that point, that song didn’t fit in my set. That was my whole problem, I was making music that I couldn’t play. To be able to end on that song was my first step to seeing the potential it had. People really liked it and they were talking about it on the internet. I remember my first supporter on that song was actually Mija. She was the first person to ever play it live, that wasn’t me. She gave me the push to actually put it out. I didn’t think it would turn into what it is now, but I’m glad it has. It’s given me a platform to make a lot more amazing music and reach a bigger fan base.

What do you say to people who call you one-hit wonder?
I don’t see it. I don’t even hear that. I think it shows with how much work I’m putting in. I think “COOL” is an amazing success. Wow! Cool Album! has been great. “Lighthouse” has done really well and to me, is a fan favorite. All the new music I’m working on now that I’m not even performing yet, is some of the best stuff I’ve done. So when I hear things like that, I’m glad people feel that way because it shows a little bit of either jealousy or anger. If you don’t like me, it means you’re thinking about me, and I’ll take that as a compliment.

Talk about your upcoming remix with Portugal. The Man.
Tidalwave.” I’ll be performing that one tonight. It’s one that I was really excited because I actually got to see them during this festival season, before I even got the offer to do the remix.

At Coachella?
I think it was Coachella, actually. I was able to go as just a fan. I didn’t even get to play. I just went to go see people and get inspired. Coachella was one of the first places where I realized a live show would be amazing. To be able to do something on that platform would really help me as an artist and as a creative. It would challenge me. With their music and what I’ve seen them do with just rock and becoming one of the biggest artists in the world, to be given the opportunity to remix one of the songs on the album, I took it. I was like ‘absolutely.’ I already loved the song originally, but to be able to give my own twist on it… I kept a lot of the elements that were very important in the original song, but also made it very Ookay.

How did you guys link up?
One day, I just woke up and it was in my email. I played it at Osheaga in Montreal. They reposted, retweeted, and hit me up saying it was amazing. I was like, ‘I know, it’s an official one!’ [laughs] Because they hadn’t heard it. They heard me working on it, but never heard the finished product being played for thousands of people.

What’s been your favorite collaboration thus far?
There’s so many good ones. The one with Fox Stevenson was incredible. Working with Sara Skinner on “Time Warp” was a really cool experience. It was cool to work with other songwriters because for me personally, I’ve been writing everything myself. That was something new for me. Oh, and “Chasing Colors.” Working with Noah Cyrus was amazing, and Mello and I are just like best friends. We were just hanging out one day. I was playing him a demo I had in my car, just on SoundCloud. He was showing me stuff he was working on and vice versa. I was like, ‘Oh, I have this thing just sitting here, let me know what you think.’ It was just the baseline and intro. He was like, ‘I love this! Can you send it to me?’ Eventually, we finished the instrumental and added Noah later on. It just made the song complete. It felt right. To be able to work with good friends on top of make good music, is one of the most rewarding things.

We noticed your tattoo that says “keep your circle small.” How has fame been treating you?
Fame is good. I guess I’m pretty popular. I’m here at The Fonda, hello? [laughs]

Keeping my circle small doesn’t mean keep people out of my life, which is nice. I try to be as inviting and kind to everyone, whether it’s to someone who doesn’t like me to someone I’ve never met before to someone I’ve known for a long time. I just keep people I find very dear and important to me. People who know my best interests as not just Ookay, but Abraham, the guy who performs as Ookay. Even the people I work with are some of my best friends. To have that circle is important. To keep it close is even more important, because what you input is your output. When I feed into my circle and do what I can, whether it be my family, best friends, or people I work with, it all comes back around.

Do you prefer playing clubs or festivals?
I haven’t done a club in a long time, so it’s really biased for me to say festivals. This is the first venue show I’ve done in a while.

What does it mean to perform at The Fonda in your hometown?
I remember I came here for JAUZ about two years ago. I’d never been to the venue prior. This is a really cool place, and I haven’t been able to come back since. I really hoped I’d get the opportunity to either come back to see a show or perform. Now, that’s exactly what’s happening. To be able to do it in LA is important. My first headlining show was in LA.

What venue was that?
It was at Los Globos, in a small room. Again, full circle. I’m back and able to do it all over again. It was one of my first moments where I realized I had fans. It was crazy.

Best encounter you had with a fan?
It was at this past EDC. I brought out Kenny G. I was really stressing because it was the first time I was doing a live show at EDC. I was up all morning doing soundcheck. As a DJ, you have the ability to show up, plug in and play. It’s so awesome. But then I realized, ‘Oh my god! I totally forgot to buy an outfit.’ I had nothing to wear at EDC.

I walked out of my hotel already exhausted, and it was hot outside. I went to Urban Outfitters, wanting to just get something and walk back. This guy was wearing an Ookay shirt and had Ookay bracelets. He was like, ‘I came here just for you, and you’re just walking in the streets?!’ We ended up taking the same cab. I got dropped off first and paid for his cab. He was like, ‘This is the best day of my life!’ Out of all my exhaustion, I was still able to touch someone’s life.

Three things you need in the studio?
Really cool lighting, good headphones, and snacks, so you don’t have to leave as much.

Who’s the most-played artist on your phone?
That’s a good question. I’m going to say D’Angelo. I actually named my dog after him.

Dream collaboration?
I’d really love to do stuff with ODESZA. I love everything Illenium is doing, and San Holo. If I could have a dream collab with any human being, definitely Prince. Maybe not even collab. I would love to pick his brain, and ask him, ‘What’s your direction in your mind when you’re working on music?’

ZEDD shines, Marshmello wins big, and Taylor Swift dominates at this year’s American Music Awards

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ZEDD shines, Marshmello wins big, and Taylor Swift dominates at this year’s American Music AwardsReactions Taylor Swift 2018 AMAs Performance

The American Music Awards took place in Los Angeles last night, and if nothing else, it proved that Taylor Swift still rules the world. The artist made her first awards show performance in three years with track “I Did Something Bad.” She proceeded to take home four awards including the award for Artist of the Year, making her the most awarded artist in AMA history. If nothing else, this year’s award ceremony showcased that hip-hop and pop stylings still predominate mainstream music preferences, but electronic music continues to prove it is worth the seat it now has at the table.

Electronic music highlights include ZEDD performing his “Lost In Japan” remix with Shawn Mendes. The “Happy Now” producer played the piano while Mendes captivated the audience with his singing, all supported by a live band in the background. ZEDD was the only electronic music act to perform at the award show. Elsewhere, The Chainsmokers continued their campaign to bring electronic music to the mainstream with their consistent representation at the biggest music industry award shows. Nominated for one award this year, the duo along with “This Feeling” collaborator Kelsea Ballerini were stage hosts presenting Post Malone‘s performance.

One award was dedicated to electronic music, with Marshmello beating out both The Chainsmokers and ZEDD for the Favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist award. The full list of awards and winners are listed below.

ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Drake
Imagine Dragons
Post Malone
Ed Sheeran
Taylor Swift *WINNER

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Camila Cabello *WINNER
Cardi B
Khalid
Dua Lipa
XXXTENTACION

COLLABORATION OF THE YEAR
Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug, “Havana” *WINNER
Post Malone ft. 21 Savage, “Rockstar”
Bruno Mars & Cardi B, “Finesse”
Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line, “Meant To Be”
Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey, “The Middle”

TOUR OF THE YEAR
Beyoncé & JAY–Z
Bruno Mars
Ed Sheeran
Taylor Swift *WINNER
U2

VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug, “Havana” *WINNER
Cardi B, “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)”
Drake, “God’s Plan”

FAVORITE SOCIAL ARTIST
BTS *WINNER
Cardi B
Ariana Grande
Demi Lovato
Shawn Mendes

FAVORITE MALE ARTIST — POP/ROCK
Drake
Post Malone *WINNER
Ed Sheeran

FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST — POP/ROCK
Camila Cabello
Cardi B
Taylor Swift *WINNER

FAVORITE DUO OR GROUP — POP/ROCK
Imagine Dragons
Maroon 5
Migos *WINNER

FAVORITE ALBUM — POP/ROCK
Drake, “Scorpion”
Ed Sheeran, “÷ (Divide)”
Taylor Swift, ‘reputation’ *WINNER

FAVORITE SONG- — POP/ROCK
Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug, “Havana” *WINNER
Drake, “God’s Plan”
Ed Sheeran, “Perfect”

FAVORITE MALE ARTIST — COUNTRY
Kane Brown *WINNER
Luke Bryan
Thomas Rhett

FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST — COUNTRY
Kelsea Ballerini
Maren Morris
Carrie Underwood *WINNER

FAVORITE DUO or GROUP — COUNTRY
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line *WINNER
LANCO

FAVORITE ALBUM — COUNTRY
Kane Brown, “Kane Brown” *WINNER
Luke Combs, “This One’s For You”
Thomas Rhett, “Life Changes”

FAVORITE SONG — COUNTRY
Kane Brown, “Heaven” *WINNER
Dan + Shay, “Tequila”
Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line, “Meant To Be”

FAVORITE ARTIST — RAP/HIP-HOP
Cardi B *WINNER
Drake
Post Malone

FAVORITE ALBUM — RAP/HIP-HOP
Drake, “Scorpion”
Lil Uzi Vert, “Luv Is Rage 2”
Post Malone, “beerbongs & bentleys” *WINNER

FAVORITE SONG — RAP/HIP-HOP
Cardi B “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” *WINNER
Drake “God’s Plan”
Post Malone ft. 21 Savage “Rockstar”

FAVORITE MALE ARTIST — SOUL/R&B
Khalid *WINNER
Bruno Mars
The Weeknd

FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST — SOUL/R&B
Ella Mai
Rihanna *WINNER
SZA

FAVORITE ALBUM — SOUL/R&B
Khalid “American Teen”
SZA “CTRL”
XXXTENTACION “17” *WINNER

FAVORITE SONG — SOUL/R&B
Khalid “Young Dumb & Broke”
Ella Mai “Boo’d Up”
Bruno Mars & Cardi B “Finesse” *WINNER

FAVORITE ARTIST — ALTERNATIVE ROCK
Imagine Dragons
Panic! At The Disco *WINNER
Portugal. The Man

FAVORITE ARTIST — ADULT CONTEMPORARY
Shawn Mendes *WINNER
P!NK
Ed Sheeran

FAVORITE ARTIST — LATIN
J Balvin
Daddy Yankee *WINNER
Ozuna

FAVORITE ARTIST — CONTEMPORARY INSPIRATIONAL
Lauren Daigle *WINNER
MercyMe
Zach Williams

FAVORITE ARTIST — ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC (EDM)
The Chainsmokers
Marshmello *WINNER
Zedd

FAVORITE SOUNDTRACK
“Black Panther: The Album, Music From And Inspired By” *WINNER
“The Greatest Showman”
“The Fate of the Furious: The Album”

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Kevin Winter

Marshmello pulls at the heartstrings in new music video for ‘Happier’

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Marshmello pulls at the heartstrings in new music video for ‘Happier’Marshmello Happier Video

Marshmello is on a roll of video releases after putting out soccer-themed “Stars” music video, and then releasing the video for Bastille collaboration “Happier” shortly afterwards. The “Stars” music video was a testament of hard work and a feel-good story of success, whereas the “Happier” music video is ironically a tear-jerker as the storyline shows the bond between girl and dog.

The track has sultry chords despite its title, and the music video follows a little girl through the various hardships of growing up such as getting bullied at school, but her dog is there routinely to help her through the rough times. Throughout the video, the dog ages until it’s the pup’s time to depart earth. The heart-breaking moment fades into the girl 20 years later as a mom. The scene is similar to the entrance of the video, where her father gave her the puppy, but this time her father gives a new puppy to the girl’s daughter, creating a heartwarming ending to the tear-inducing video.

Marshmello becomes a soccer star in feel-good video for ‘Stars’

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Marshmello becomes a soccer star in feel-good video for ‘Stars’Marshmello Stars Video

Marshmello has released the official music video for single track “Stars,” and the energetic track fittingly features an action packed music video of people playing pick up soccer. Marshmello watches from the sidelines, as he takes in the players doing a variety of impressive footwork and scoring goals. He becomes inspired to play himself, and heads a rogue ball. The pick up players become frustrated by Marshmello’s interference.

Saddened, Marshmello goes home and starts rummaging through his father’s old things in the attack, where he discovers his dad was a soccer star. They start training, and eventually he builds up the skill to go take on the pick up teams again. This time, he dances around all of them with his newfound skill, ultimately scoring and impressing all of the players who had doubted him previously. In true Marshmello fashion of overcoming obstacles, this feel-good video is the perfect accompaniment to this upbeat track.

Marshmello takes break from DJing to compete on American Ninja Warrior [Watch]

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Marshmello takes break from DJing to compete on American Ninja Warrior [Watch]Marshmello Live At Coachella

Don’t mistake pillowy softness for physical weakness, at least not in the case of Marshmello. In another brilliant marketing move from electronic music’s most saccharine sonic personality, Mello briefly stepped away from the decks to appear on TV show sensation American Ninja Warrior. The game show proves to be a true test of physical dexterity for its competitors, who attempt to complete an excruciatingly exerting obstacle course in order to reach Mount Midoriyama.

Now in its tenth season, American Ninja Warrior observes contestants as they progress through different and increasingly challenging stages of the course. Although few who aspire to reach Mount Midoriyama actually finish the challenge, the “anonymous” bucket-headed beatmaker managed to find superhuman strength in his cameo on the course. Perhaps all of that synchronized jumping to drops paid off for the “You Can Cry” producer, who deftly navigated the laborious landscape with surprising stamina. Or maybe the real Marshmello was off playing Fortnite somewhere while someone more acrobatically inclined donned the helmet for American Ninja Warrior? We may never know.

Marshmello relives his childhood in ‘Flashbacks’ visual

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Marshmello relives his childhood in ‘Flashbacks’ visualScreen Shot 2018 09 09 At 1.45.38 PM

Marshmello is back with another explosive visual for his fans. This time, he packs his entire childhood into barely three minutes of footage, releasing the official music video for “Flashbacks.” The record hails from his most recent album, Joytime II, released in June.

In the YouTube description, Mello writes, “This video is a reminder to always remember and appreciate the people and experiences that shape who you are ❤” While the clip features exclusive VHS tapes of all of his past birthday parties, viewers are welcomed with child versions of Skrillex and Slushii as well.

Also sharing the visual to his 11.4 million followers on Instagram, he posted a family photo of him as a child, along with his parents in Mello heads. Clearly, he was born this way.

Photo credit: Marshmello Instagram

Marshmello and Anne-Marie’s ‘Friends’ goes platinum

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Marshmello and Anne-Marie’s ‘Friends’ goes platinumMarshmello Anne Marie

Marshmello and Anne-Marie‘s friend-zone anthem, “Friends,” has gone platinum. The platinum plaque recognizes 1 million units sold in the U.S. by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which are distinguished by single digital sales or 150 streams on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Those these numbers are nothing to turn one’s head at, however, it is important to look at other locations where this catchy anthem is consumed. Take YouTube, for example, where the melodic and unflinching track amassed nearly 600 million plays between Marshmello’s playful animated lyric video and the official music video as of Aug. 23. “Friends” peaked on Billboard Hot 100 at No. 11, but it’s clear the core of this song has a continuing resonance that isn’t slowing down. 

Marshmello collaborations have again and again proven to be hits. In a press release announcing the platinum certification, Anne-Marie expressed her feelings about working with the masked master track-maker stating, “I love Marshmello…Working with him was so much fun and I can’t wait to work with him again. Talented, humble, lovely human…..I mean, Marshmello.”

On Aug. 20, with the continued enthusiasm and momentum associated when a track turns anthem, Anne-Marie accepted RIAA’s framed plaque right before performing a sold-out show at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles. Of course, Marshmello isn’t slowing down either having recently announced a collaboration with Juice WRLD. Who knows what these tastemakers will do next.

Ultra Mexico brings the heat with first phase of 2018 lineup featuring Carl Cox, Marshmello, Illenium, and more

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Ultra Mexico brings the heat with first phase of 2018 lineup featuring Carl Cox, Marshmello, Illenium, and moreUltraMeico

There are several certainties in life: death and taxes–as the more sardonic would joke–and, of course, a stacked Ultra Mexico lineup.

Come October 13-14, the Mexico City edition of Ultra will stop by venue Foro Pegaso for a two-day electronic extravaganza.

Ultra Mexico brings the heat with first phase of 2018 lineup featuring Carl Cox, Marshmello, Illenium, and more8VGKjLA

Phase one of the event touts mainstream favorites Marshmello, Galantis, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, and Afrojack as well as underground icons Carl Cox, Jamie Jones, and Seth Troxler. Steve Angello and NGHTMRE and Slander‘s celebrated Gud Vibrations concept account for more of the first phase’s firepower.

Purchase tickets to Ultra Mexico, here.

Photo Credit: EDM Identity

Get a sneak peek of Marshmello’s new Bastille feature, ‘Happier,’ dropping Friday [Stream]

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Get a sneak peek of Marshmello’s new Bastille feature, ‘Happier,’ dropping Friday [Stream]20228889 1622687541083104 3624557739808384426 N

Marshmello will put the “sweet” in “bittersweet” on his latest single, “Happier.” Slated for an August 17 release, the newest offering from EDM’s jet puffed beat breaker will feature British indie pop band, Bastille.

Marshmello’s formal announcement of the single’s imminent release will hardly arrive as a surprise to some Mellogang members; Marshmello originally sparked suspicion of an incoming collaboration with Bastille in March when he tweeted that he was “playing phone tag” with the band.

Bastille followed Marshmello’s Instagram preview of the forthcoming production with a tweet describing the track as a melancholic number tinged with Mello’s inimitable merriment.

HAPPIER ft. @bastilledan this Friday 😄 pre-save link in bio.

A post shared by marshmello (@marshmellomusic) on

H/T: Billboard

Stream HARD Summer 2018 sets from Diplo & Dillon Francis, Marshmello, Mija, and more

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Stream HARD Summer 2018 sets from Diplo & Dillon Francis, Marshmello, Mija, and moreHard Summer

HARD Summer 2018 has come and gone — the festival’s first year without founder of the HARD brand Gary Richards (a.k.a. Destructo) at the helm — and all seemed to go as planned. Recruiting some of today’s top talent in house, future bass, dubstep, and hip-hop, the weekend featured some powerhouse back-to-back sets from Dillon Francis & Diplo, Zeds Dead & Jauz, and A-Trak & Baauer. Travis Scott celebrated the release of his new album, Astroworld, and Mija dropped another set that completely embodies her “Fk A Genre” mantra.

With more sets from Marshmello, Ghastly, Louis the Child, and others, this weekend marked the beginning of a new chapter for the HARD organization. Check out some of the top sets of the weekend below.

Diplo b2b Dillon Francis:

Travis Scott:

Zeds Dead b2b Jauz:

A-Trak b2b Baauer:

Marshmello:

Mija:

Louis The Child:

Ghastly:

Big Wild:

Slushii: