Getting signed to a record label is no small feat for any artist, though OddKidOut’s initiation into OWSLA‘s rankings might be the most nerve racking trial by fire any new signee has ever faced. The young Philadelphia-native’s first assignment, handed down from Skrillex, was to dig through OWSLA’s discography, chop up his favorite samples, and to turn them into something entirely new.
The final returned product from the prodigious beatsmith is a spectacular four-track debut EP titled Solstice, that recreates some of the label’s finest sonic snippets. On the EP’s latest offering, “Napa Street,” OddKidOut reconstructs the hook of Skrillex and Poo Bear‘s “Would You Ever,” into an echoing lo-fi hip-hop gem, piecing together an unwinding downtempo glitch primed for hazy summer night cruising. Ahead of the track and Liam Underwood-directed music video premiere, OddKidOut sat down with Dancing Astronaut to dive into the producer’s storied come up that amounted to his new OWSLA EP.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. You’ve been a touring dummer since you were 13. How did drumming impact the transition to making electronic music?
I started drumming when I was six and eventually got into producing when I was 15. I had been listening to everything from hip-hop to death metal, dubstep to jazz. Once I got my chops up on producing after a few years, I started to combine all those genres into something that was exciting to me. The transition wasn’t that hard because I was just doing what I thought sounded cool. I never really labeled it as a “genre” though. But all those years of learning the drums, plus working in a bunch of different environments made producing a bit easier from the jump.
Diplo (among others) is on record as saying that Skrillex is one of the best drummers alive in the way that he understands and designs percussion. Working closely with him now, can you speak to that?
What’s really cool about Sonny’s music is that even when it’s not a percussive element, it’s still super rhythmic and has a ton of motion. Listening to his music is so fun when you’re a percussionist because you’re picking up on all the cadences of the way he chops vocals, to the way he programs his signature sounds. And even better…getting to watch his workflow a few times really opened up the way I program my sounds now.
We’d be hard pressed to find another instance in which a newly signed artist is first tasked with remixing pieces of the label’s existing discography. Was making Solstice stressful? Tell us a little bit about going through OWSLA’s discography for this EP.
It was definitely an unorthodox approach for a debut project, but I loved making it. Sonny knew I was good at chopping up samples, so he sent OWSLA’s full discography to me and I spent like five to six months creating all types of new tracks [with] them. I probably made [something] like 45 songs, but ended up only wanting to release four of them. I had a lot of time to myself in Los Angeles so I would go through, artist by artist, and just flip them over and over until I got something I really liked. We all thought it was just a cool concept.
Some projects experience trouble translating the studio output into a live performance; and a typical CDJ setup doesn’t really seem to align with your style. What would your ideal live performance hardware setup look like?
I try not to pigeon-hole myself with anything musically. I do spin a lot with just CDJ’s…but I think you’re right in the sense that I want my live show to be more than just that. Ideally, I would have CDJ’s, a Native Instruments Maschine MK3 and Jam, and an acoustic drum set, preferably a Gretsch. That way I could trigger a shit-ton of loops and be able to spazz out percussively on a few different mediums.
Sampling is obviously a huge part of your craft. How does hip-hop culture’s use of sampling inspire what you do? Who initially sparked that interest in you?
The 90’s boom-bap era is one of the defining reasons why I love music. I remember playing Tony Hawk’s Underground on my PS2 when I was younger and hearing “Low Class Conspiracy” by Quasimoto. That lead me to start listening to Madlib, and then from there came J Dilla, Pete Rock, etc. Watching these guys inspired me to get an MPC and to start flipping up records. I always loved older music, and music with soul, so the whole process of flipping up records quickly became my favorite thing to do.
2018 looks to be your breakout year and OWSLA feels like a fitting home for you. What’s next for OKO?
More music, more shows, more fun.