Photo credit: Marcella Ambriz
We recently connected with producer, obli, who just released his debut EP, Change. The LA-based artist signed with ODESZA’s highly respected label, Foreign Family Collective, which features the likes of Rufus Du Sol, Jai Wolf and Louis Futon, to name a few. Change packs elements of house, funk, and ambience into it’s tidy 4-song collection. Check out what obli had to say about his new EP!
BTS: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it yet?
obli: That is such a great question that is so hard to answer. I am still figuring it out so each time I approach a song or an idea I feel like I am just trying to make that next discovery of what obli is and what moves me musically and that’s what makes it so exciting. It also feels like an amalgamation of so many electronic artist influences that I have gotten into heavily over the last five years. I guess if I had to describe I would try to keep it simple and say to someone that it’s electronic dance music that can range from ambient, rich and emotive to soulful, funky and pretty dance heavy. Ask me again in two years? : )
BTS: How did your connection with ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective come about?
obli: Very randomly which I love. My friend Paris is a photographer / director here in LA and sometime last year she asked if she could have some music of mine to maybe use in a commercial that she directed. I sent her a bunch of stuff and she ended up using a couple of tracks and when the commercial came out she posted it on her IG. She is friends with a guy named Benjamin Plant who is in a band called Miami Horror and also has an amazing electronic project called Mild Minds that is signed to FFC. I think he reached out to Paris and asked who did the music for her commercial and she connected us. I sent him a song that’s out now on FFC called “Hold You” and he ended up putting it on a mix he was doing and the label heard it and reached out. When I got an email from Foreign Family I almost deleted it because I usually only got spam to my obli email loll. I connected with them from there – they are such an amazing team.
BTS: Your remix of Big Wild’s ‘Aftergold’ has generated quite a few streams. What’s your process like for remixing, and how do you decide what to remix?
obli: My process is different each time but I tend to start by separating the vocals out or a certain section of the vocals. I usually try to speed them up or slow them down depending on what I am feeling and then start improvising chords on a guitar or keyboard over them. Sometimes I’ll start with vocals and different drum patterns or loops to see how that feels. I think one thing you can hear in most of my songs is that I love vocal chops and samples so I almost always try to always start there because once I feel like I have something interesting happening in that area the rest can come together pretty quickly. On deciding what to remix it’s usually just hearing a song and making a connection with all or part of that song and then my mind will start to envision what that song could be like if that part / melody / vocal was the focus or shifted in a new direction.
BTS: Do you want to talk a bit about your debut EP, Change?
obli: Yea, it will be my first EP with obli and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s 4 songs and 2 of them are new ones that I made this year after signing to FFC and 2 are old ones that have always stuck around and been on my favorites list. The EP is titled after the song Change which has always had this lyric in it that meant a lot to me. The last 4-5 years of my life have had the biggest changes / growth in it so the lyric “I didn’t know I could change” just always felt so right as I think there was a long time where I actually didn’t know that I could and the last bit of time has taught me that I have and I can. This EP also feels like just the beginning. My foray into electronic music and making music on my own is relatively new. I have been a band / touring dude for so much of my life. The EP is definitely a culmination of a lot of things but it feels like so much more of a beginning or start to something than the end.
BTS: As you continue to grow as an artist, what are some things you’re looking most forward to?
obli: I’m really looking forward to two things more than anything else. Making more and more music and through that process finding a deeper connection and understanding of music and myself which is a never ending process and is a process that never gets old. And the second being more collaboration. Every time I work with another musician whether it’s a producer or engineer or player or singer I learn and grow. Like one of my main touring gigs right now is playing guitar for the pop singer Julia Michaels. Working with her, our band and her team… I have learned and grown so much as a musician and player. It’s wild what new and uncomfortable situations can do. I want more of that with obli.
BTS: Any artists or songs you’ve been digging lately?
obli: In the electronic world I have been digging this Dutch duo Weval… super cool ideas / tracks and also their mixes are killer. Not sure if they are mixing their own stuff but that’s something that always gets me is when a mix just crushes. There’s a Norwegian singer called Ane Brun that I’ve gotten into this year – one specific song to listen to is called Trust and then there’s a British poet / rapper named Kate Tempest – please listen to the song Peoples Faces – it might be the one song everyone needs to hear after going through all the craziness and division of 2020. Spotify tells me that my top 2020 artists are DJ Koze and Caribou haha. The new Caribou record that came out this year is really good. I have also been super inspired by my musician friends here in LA. My homey Josh from Mondo Cozmo put out a new record this year that has some stellar songs on it, my favorite live LA band Sego has a new EP out and my friends in a band called Swimm also have new music coming out that’s amazing. Being able to talk music with friends and play each other things you are working on is so important.
BTS: What’s next for obli?
obli: More music! And hopefully touring of any kind – man I miss it so much. Hope to spend some time soon figuring obli for live shows, I think it’s going to be very fun. I also have a few more remixes coming out in the first part of 2021 and starting to work on new music that will come out on FFC in 2021. Not sure if it will be more singles / EPs or maybe just take the deep dive and work on a full length which would be amazing.
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