From bedroom producer to award-winning electronic virtuoso, Oscar Davey-Wraight is the brains behind Australia’s most excitingly funkadelic and out of the box bass project, OPIUO and the upcoming Melbourne performance of the Syzygy Orchestra project. His non-formulaic and intuitive style of producing arose during his younger years in New Zealand, experimenting with the recording software on his parents’ computer and an old tape player. Since then, his mastered wizardry of Digital Audio Workstations paired with a zany style has cultivated a crunchy-bass-filled-soulfully-melodic-bouncy-glitch-hop-techno-future-funk that can lift the spirits of anyone who comes near. Have a listen for yourself!
OPIUO has a creative ethos to always be ever evolving, which he brings with him into the live realm, dedicated to making every tour diverse and unique. Everything from a one-man show equipped with drum machines, synths, epic visuals and laser beams galore, to ‘The OPIUO Band’, a recent creative endeavor which saw him share the stage with world-class musicians to translate electronic elements into a completely raw and organic 100% live performance.
He has spread his high-energy bass lovin’ to festivals such as Island Vibe, Earth Frequency, Splendour In The Grass, Big Pineapple Music Festival and even all the way to Glastonbury and Burning Man. You can go taste the ear candy this November when he brings his brand spanking new Syzygy World(ish) Tour across Australia, followed by sets at Jungle Love and Subsonic Festival. Tireless effort and dedication towards his craft has seen OPIUO establish himself in the electronic scene, releasing four full-length albums (Slurp and Giggle, Meraki, Maraki Remixed and Omniversal) and a number of EPs including SYZYGY 01 from earlier this year. In recent years he has also tried his hand at a new project, launching his own record label ‘Slurp Music’. If you’re dreaming of starting your own record label you might want to check out our course here.
He has earned #1 chart positions on Beatport, Addictech and iTunes, taken out five awards at 2013’s UK Glitch-Hop awards and won electronic album of the year at the 2014 New Zealand Music Awards. This comes as no surprise as OPIUO exhibits a perfect blend of passion, enthusiasm and professionalism towards what he does. Not to mention a great connection and mutual respect with fans, whose tastes often influence his music and are a driving factor behind his success, as he strives to create the best sonic experience for those who support him. This is an artist who has found success by always sticking to their authentic self which is why we chose to pick his brains for some inspiration and advice in this week’s Savvy Seven, enjoy!
1) Who was your first musical inspiration? Why? Who inspires you now?
Apparently my musical journey started before I can remember, when I was 2 years old, sitting on the knee of one of my parents best friends, playing drums during the middle of a party. I guess I’ve had a subconscious love and desire for music since my Mumma’s belly. I’d say my first inspiration was my mum. She used to play the piano every now and then. I loved it. I also grew up around music festivals, so I was exposed to many of the very early electronic acts in New Zealand at a very young age. Later on, my parent’s record collection was a huge favourite of mine.
I’d stay up late at night in headphones after everyone had gone to sleep and crank acts like The Beastie Boys as loud as I could into the tiny speakers attached to my head. It was loud, fun, and full of party atmosphere. Nowadays though my inspiration is spread across many aspects of my often ridiculously busy life. The people I meet, the places I see, the sounds that pass me by while I travel from hemisphere to hemisphere in search of the most uplifting collection of funkadelic souls to dance with.
2) What advice do you have for someone who is about to set off on their first tour?
Don’t take it for granted. This is often the most free you’ll be within music and performing. It’s raw, and it’s a hard job some days, and the start of your career is no different. But I’ve felt there is much less pressure during this time, and it should be enjoyed and appreciated to its fullest. Also, either take a sound guy if you possibly can, or become best friends with the front of house operator at every stop. Explain what you do, and allow them to trust you with what you are doing onstage. Having a nice sounding show will increase the enjoyment factor for every single person in the room by a factor of four million, and hopefully they come right back to your next show.
3) What has been one of the most defining moments in your career?
That’s a hard question as I feel I’ve had many smaller moments which have helped either propel, shape, enhance, or direct my career in some way. A collection of the most defining moments might have to be realising what I was doing was starting to really mean something to people. This is something that has had a real effect on me, and something I don’t take lightly.
I’ve had people tell me they’ve spread their friends ashes on the dance floor during my set as I was their loved ones’ favourite music. I’ve had people get married to my music. I’ve had people play my music at funerals. I have even had people tell me my music was used as a tool to encourage kids to get off the street, off the drugs, and into a creative space. This means so, so much to me. Love, positivity, and utmost respect for every being on this flying rock. And really helps push me into an even further creative space, wanting to make the best art I can for the people who are listening.
4) How has your music practice changed over time?
In the last 8 years I’ve expanded from a one-man-band into a 20-piece orchestra. I still write what I want, when I want, how I want, but I am forever pushing my mental and physical boundaries to experience musical might in refreshing ways both on and off stage. I also might have finally mastered the fine art of taking time out from the studio to allow inspiration to build. There really are no boundaries to music, or any art for that matter. It’s only a matter of time before someone breaks the code once again. I am forever encouraging people around me to be that very person!
5) My top business tip for new artists is…
Stay on top of everything you can. Know whats going on around you. Don’t get too caught up in the free party lifestyle. Do not simply pass on important decision making to a manager or someone who is offering. No one will ever care more about your project than you do, so make sure you are right there where the most important decisions are being made.
6) My biggest career mistake has been… What would you do differently now?
I don’t like to think of any moments in my career as mistakes, but more as opportunities to learn and grow. Anyone can tell you do this, do that, but until you do it yourself you’ll never really know if it works for you or not. I’ve been in countless situations, from tours that lost lots of money, to paying for PR companies to do nothing at all. But if I hadn’t have done those things I would never have learnt how to adjust, and know what I want for the future, and thankfully I have learnt a lot, and will never do it the same way again. It all comes down to real life experience.
7) In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is… What do you think can change that?
Its the age-old problem, but I feel it’s conformity and the often inability to truly make something new and fresh and not fear the backlash from select radio and social media outlets who seem to only focus on what they deem “good”. Its a monopoly of sorts. We all want to survive off our art, but making it to fit into these molds is never good. We are surrounded by a million people doing the same thing, and a few select people making waves and being themselves, which leads to change and people follow. We need to encourage and educate more people to follow their heart, their instinct, their dream, and to do it the way they see fit. To not simply copy others, but to be yourself, and put your own spin on the sonic and artistic landscape.
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Australian and New Zealand Syzygy World(ish) Tour dates
Monday 5th November – Forum Melbourne – Tickets here
Friday 9th November – Oxford Art Factory – Tickets here
Saturday 10th November – The Triffid – Tickets here
Friday 16th November – Winnie Bagoes – Tickets here
Friday 23rd November – The Grand – Tickets here