OUTPOST1: Interview with Obey City
Quick tip: be sure to join in on our RSVP-only happy hour drink specials from 10 to 11pm Friday; just send a quick e-mail with your name to RSVP@keepalbanyboring.com to get in on the fun.
This month’s guest, Obey (pronunciation oh-bee) is definitely not a one-trick pony behind the decks and also keeps busy creating tunes, collaborating with others and maintaining Astro Nautico – the digitally-based label he founded alongside Kuhn and Paul Jones.
For his personal contributions to the world of forward-thinking bass music, he creates tracks that are soulful, emotional and mix the likes of R&B, funky, house and grime into his signature blend of club smashing tunes.
You can check out his music on SoundCloud and also scope his debut Melted Magic EP via Astro Nautico. Additionally, for those of you who missed it, Obey City was featured last night on Noise212, and his set will be added to the impressive archive including the likes of Krueger, Mess Kid, Samo Sound Boy, Sliink, Jim-E Stack and more.
Really looking forward to this month’s party and to help you become familiarized – knomad and myself teamed up to conduct the following interview.
Hit the jump and we’ll see you Friday.
In the game since: realistically, I’ll say 2008
What drew you in? What came first, DJing or dabbles in production? Do you identify with one term more than another? I started making hip-hop beats for rappers, which led to creating weirder beats just for myself. Then I wanted to play the beats out for people to dance to, which led me to experiment with faster tempos. I ended up DJing as a means to play out my own music, so it was always production that I put an emphasis on.
What’s it like living and working in Brooklyn? I really liked your quote that you are “influenced by my surroundings to influence my surroundings” is it really that simple or would you like to elaborate a bit more? Brooklyn is a creative hub, plain and simple. While I’m often forced to compromise my quality of living and eating due to financial restraints, I really enjoy living here. I forget exactly when that idea came to me, but I’m pretty sure it’s as simple as it sounds. I was walking through Brooklyn and realized how much living here has influenced me and my music and that it’d be cool to leave some sort of impression here of myself.
How much of your day is dedicated to working on tracks? How do you organize what you are working on and listening to? When does a track or remix feel finished to you? It depends. I usually get up by late morning, drink a lot of coffee and just start messing around with some projects I’ve started, which can last hours at a time. Before I know it I’ve ignored all my prior engagements holed up in my room and all I have is a stupid tune to show for it. When I hear my neighbors banging on the walls, I know I’m done for the day.
How do you balance the label with your own individual work? What’s it like working with kuhn and paul jones and the rest of your crew? The label is a lot of fun for me at this point. We definitely dedicate time to its operations, but it’s really just a bunch of friends putting out music for free at this point, so I don’t think of it as stressful. My two associates are both basically goofs, so I have to deal with a lot of unprofessionalism.
How did you guys meet? How did the label come to be? Do you focus solely on digital distribution? Who does the design for the label? (love the work with every release) We three (myself, Paul Jones and Kuhn) all went to high school together and actually played in a future funk band with a very regretful name back then.
The first form that Astro Nautico took was as a radio show that Paul started in Montreal in 2007 while he was going to school. Once we all graduated and moved home we realized we’d all been individually listening to and creating similar music and so we decided to expand it into a blog, which later became an outlet for releasing our own music as well. Then we figured it’d be fun to get other people involved and here we are.
Most of the original artwork has been done by Paul but Bennett (Kuhn) is the one who recreated the logo from something we found on the internet. At this point everything has been digitally released, but we have discussed the idea of a physical product down the line.
Cultivating a following in the Internet age, what sort of value/impact have sites like SoundCloud and Bandcamp had on Astro Nautico’s ability to mature and grow? More social sites like Facebook, Twitter? Well, to put it simply, we wouldn’t be able to run the label as we do now without them. Although we have our fair share of quips with Bandcamp, it has been the platform for which we’ve released all of our music at this point.
We do have a domain website, but the bandwidth required for file hosting and streaming audio can get expensive. These websites offer us the ability to keep our music free for the public.
Additionally, having things like Facebook and Twitter have allowed us to connect with people internationally, which is where a surprising amount of our supporters reside.
Watching all the Astro artists gain increased recognition over the last 6 months or so, what’s the feeling like? Any increased reward or value given your history together? I feel like a proud dad who’s witnessing their child get a basketball scholarship or something. Even though I don’t need an affirmation from a blog to tell me the music we put out is special, it never hurts to get some support from the global music community.
I feel like at this point, anyone we release on Astro Nautico is destined for bigger and better things. As friends who just started this as a creative outlet, it’s very exciting to see that people from all corners of the world are tuning in.
Reflect on SXSW. Who was the most inspirational person you met? Did anyone make you “star struck”? Best party? SXSW is one of the most exhausting weeks I’ve experienced in some time, but it was an amazing way to link up with a lot of talented people. Everyone I met inspired me in some sense, because they are all doing big things. I think I might have acted most star struck to meet DJ Asma from Nguzunguzu cause I sorta have a crush on her. Fader Fort was a good spot to hang, but I’m pretty sure I missed out on the best party (Boiler Room House Party) because of a gig.
Future moves for Obey City? Releases planned? More music, more shows, more releases from Astro Nautico! I have two EPs lined up for release this year but I like to keep people guessing so I’m not talking about labels at this point.
The first piece of music you remember buying? The most recent? Haha, I think the first piece of music I bought was probably a Green Day cassette. I think the first CD that I remember giving a lot of spins was the 1999 Rap Grammy nominees. Nowadays when I purchase physical music it’s usually older vinyl.
Do you feel like one producer or DJ is killin it right now? what have you been listening to? Difficult to narrow it down, but one dude in particular who’s exploded onto the scene is Baauer out of Brooklyn. I hit him up for tunes and within a couple of weeks everyone is playing him out. Since I’ve begun to DJ out more, I consume music at a feverish pace and so it’s pretty hard to settle down with any one project. All I can say is Cid Rim is one to look out for and his new EP is going to be amazing.
What was your first time playing out like? How did it compare with your most recent gig? As a band it was at a terrible high school show, and as a DJ probably a terrible college party. So I can say with confidence, my last gig was much more successful.
Best way to curb boredom? YouTube. Or world star hip-hop if you want real low-brow entertainment.
What can we look forward to in Albany? Sexy Bangers all night!
Favorite kind of taco? Pescadoooooo.