There are many reasons why many would say New Zealand based artist Opiuo is revamping electrical music to whole another level. Renowned for his incredible live shows, the New Zealand-based artist is currently in the midst of a busy tour schedule which has seen him play a series of dates across the United States since October.
Since we heard ‘Botrok’ the first single taken from producer Opiuo’s brand new EP, ‘Syzygy 01’ , we’ve had the track on repeat getting our groove on. Never mind the fact that we are still trying to learn how to pronounce the name of the new EP, Opiuo explains why he chooses such interesting names for his songs. He also explains what you can expect from an Opiuo live show experience and how he digs hammer pants…who doesn’t though?
You recently released your single called ‘Botrok’, it’s huge! What was the process like when producing it? Did you have an idea of the track before you went into the studio?
I’d been really feeling a lot of the slower, darker 4×4 music at that moment. I didn’t go into the studio thinking I’d make something like this, but a sound came about after fucking around on my Prophet 6, the lead bass noise. I remember it clearly. I then made an edit for The Opiuo Band to play at the time. We played it a shit load, it was such a cool moment in the sets. I then worked it a lot on the road, expanding on what went well after each show. It then took on its own life after we stopped touring. It morphed into what you hear today, my favourite track to play, still, after almost a whole year dropping it!
It’s the first track from your forthcoming Syzygy 01 EP, talk us through it? What inspired the record?
I wanted to release a bunch of material in a different form than a straight up album. The record is about doing whatever I want. No rules or the common restrictions I put on myself, like telling a story when doing an album. It includes some super epic recordings I did in New Orleans when I was there late last year. Plus, some completely electronic tracks like‘ BOTROK.’ All the music is super varied… fast & slow, banging & mellow. All the things I like about making and listening to this epic thing called music.
The names for your tracks are quite unique, where do they come from?
My weird brain. I like to imagine what the song sounds & looks like in word form. Imagining a mouth moving to make the eclectic swizzling sticky popping clicky sounds. Names to me are incredibly important as they should give your imagination a taste of what the song is like before you even hear it.
You’re known for your funky and futuristic sound, which comes across incredibly in your live shows. For those who are yet to experience an Opiuo live show, what can they expect?
A place to get the fuck down. With heavy bass, fizzling funk, limb flying party times. A place to forget your woes of life, and be surrounded by smiling, uplifting humans. I never play the exact same show twice and I always push myself to make an atmosphere similar to the funkadelic force which keeps me in love with what I do on stage. I often feel like I’m on the dance floor with everyone too. It’s a dream come true doing this, and I hope that comes across at my shows.
You’re currently in the middle of a tour, which has included a past date in your native, New Zealand. When a show carries personal significance for you, in what ways, if any, does your approach differ to that of your other tour dates?
Having played hundreds of shows across the globe it’s incredibly important to recognise where I am currently, and where I am from. When I have the chance to go home to NZ I take everything in. I often play some music of mine that gives me a sense of grounding to that particular place. I remember when I was young going to shows and seeing bands and DJs throughout the country, at venues and cities I now play myself. Sometimes now I’m even playing alongside those exact acts. I really feel an overwhelming appreciation for being given the chance to do what I do, and I owe it all to growing up in such a culturally & musically rich place.
Having grown up in New Zealand, what inspired your decision to move to Byron Bay, Australia? What is it that you like about the area?
I’ve only very recently moved to the Byron Bay area. Before that, I spent 12 epic years in Melbourne – a city that is the whole reason I am doing this today. I moved there in 2005 with a need for a bigger place to find out who I was. Melbourne has a gritty, artistic undercurrent like no other. There’s so much incredible talent there, and I feel it pushed me and gave me the space to carve out who I was/am. There’s so much support for all music, and that’s what I enjoyed so much, seeing so many genres all in one night & being inspired by it all.
Were you brought up in a musical house? What sort of music did you grow up listening to?
I was bought up around music festivals & parties more than I was in a “music house” so to speak. We did listen & play a lot of music as kids though, and I was learning how to play the drums throughout high school; probably as a result of being around rock & punk bands all through my childhood. Festivals showed me a freedom and celebration of life through partying & music on fucking big sound systems. It was hugely influential on me. It was where everyone could be themselves and didn’t have to be anything more. They seemed wild and happy & as a kid that is the ultimate. In the early days, I was listening to acts like Beastie Boys, Supergroove, Salmonella Dub.
Did you have a backup plan if the music thing didn’t work?
Nah. I never put pressure on myself to make music “work”. I feel like creative decisions are compromised if you are making music to pay the bills or get somewhere. I made it because I loved it, and still do. I didn’t give a fuck if I made any money (of course we need it to survive), but to me, it came second to making the best art I could. I worked many jobs before I was fortunate enough to make music my full-time job. And I’ll never ever take it for granted that I have been able to make it my life.
What has been your favourite performance to date?
Hands down Red Rocks 2017 with The Opiuo Band.
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2018?
LOTS OF MUSIC. Bigger shows. Taking bigger risks. Pushing my own boundaries.
Lastly, as you have performed alongside MC Hammer can you now do the Hammer dance?
I’m more of a moonwalker, but I dig hammer pants.
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