There’s nothing that we love more than seeing bass music and rap collide here at FUXWITHIT. One artist fusing our favourite sounds together with acute precision is none other than Calgary-based producer OAKK. First landing a spot in our Focus Five series last year, we’ve been consistently amazed with OAKK’s output, most recently with the release of the impeccable 5 track EP ONE. A true embodiment of what FUXWITHIT stands for, it’s long overdue that we connected with OAKK for a guest mix and interview. We discuss growing up in Calgary, the importance of Shambhala, upcoming releases, reality TV and much more. The mix is packed with IDs and gritty heaters. Check both below.
What was it like growing up in Calgary? Are you still based there? If so, what’s the bass scene like?
Cold… But from an arts/culture standpoint during my younger years it was pretty stale, the city seems to ebb and flow through high points and low points. It’s hard when the majority of young people in the city don’t seem to go out to shows/parties, and prefer hockey games and bar-cades… but that’s the game with throwing parties, especially in an extremely conservative oil and gas city. The benefit of it being so fucking cold in Calgary to go outside for most of the year is that you have a lot of time to spend inside practicing and learning new skills. I think that’s why Calgary has pumped out some amazing musicians over the years. I am still based here, however I plan to be moving my life to Madrid in the Fall unless this pandemic says otherwise. The bass scene in Calgary is small, but extremely loyal and committed to building itself up.
You said you regret naming yourself after a tree. Have you thought about changing your name/rebranding? Where would you take it?
I’m the kind of person that will always second guess my creative choices, and the name choice is one of those choices that I’m hot and cold with. That being said if I were to change it, I know I’d have the same feelings towards the new name. I’ve always wanted to start a clothing line through my music project, less “merch” focused and more properly designed clothes. In my mind I actually like the name “OAKK” for something like that.
I truly think I’m a better person from my experiences within the festival communities.
How important has Shambhala been to your music career?
Last year was my first year playing at Shambhala, which was a monumental moment for me and I was really looking forward to playing at The Grove this year… But Shambhala was also the first outdoor electronic music festival I went to about 7 or 8 years ago, and it flipped a switch in me where I was like “yes… this is what I want to do,” and I never looked back. It opened me up to the world of festivals, and I truly think I’m a better person from my experiences within the festival communities.
I know you used to rap early on in your career, are there any plans to include your own vocals on tracks in the future?
It would be insulting to the world to say I used to rap. The main reason I started making beats is because I couldn’t rap haha. But I’ve always used my vocals in my tracks, for little snippets/one shots, most recently in my track ‘Git Lo.’ I usually lower the pitch and add effects so no one can tell and so it actually sounds “decent.” I’ve started recording more substantial verses and fills with my voice in some recent projects, so we’ll see where those end up. I’m also working with more MCs, rappers and singers as it’s always been my goal to produce records for people as opposed to just creating work for the OAKK project.
You mentioned that you have a few projects coming out this year. ONE is incredible. Will the rest of your releases be a similar sound?
Thanks! As far as my music goes, I always aim to have a unifying sound throughout projects,
while also trying to keep them unique in their own way. ONE was a straight up ode to big 808s, hip hop, trap, southern rap which is what I listened to growing up, and a departure from the reliance on sound design which I found myself doing. A less is more approach in a sense. The goal is to drop releases similar to ONE as a series, so the next will be entitled TWO and so on. I’m just finishing up the next release, but it’s a full on beats EP with some wonky, some vibey and some hyphy stuff that I’m very excited about. Everything else is still up in the air at the moment, but expect some rap collaborations and a downtempo/headphone focused release from me at some point this year. Then some remixes and maybe another edit pack at some point too… Sounds like a lot when I say it out loud haha.
If you’re curating a lineup you’re doing yourself and the attendees a disservice by booking the same acts twice. You’re also not digging for lesser known artists who need representation in these markets to grow their careers.
You’ve been pretty vocal about your gripes with festivals, from booking the same acts to play multiple sets, to their lack of graphic design expertise. If you curated your own festival what would it look like?
Oh shit… I wouldn’t say it’s a gripe per-say, it’s an observation, I’m calling it like I see it. If you’re curating a lineup you’re doing yourself and the attendees a disservice by booking the same acts twice. You’re also not digging for lesser known artists who need representation in these markets to grow their careers. To me a festival is somewhere to experience a diverse selection of arts/culture in a condensed space, where you wouldn’t be able to experience normally where you live. Basically it’s lazy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t book an artist for two sets either. There were just some lineups I saw that made me laugh when the top tiers on the lineup were the same people playing solo, b2b or as their other project.
If I curated my own festival it would be a diverse melting pot of people that I respect and admire, and just like my DJ sets it’d be about presenting familiar artists and sounds to bring people in, make them comfortable, and then showcase something new and different to them. It’d also be really really fucking fun!
Creating a full A/V experience has always been my end goal for the project, but I’m just waiting for the right time. I want it to be an experience and I just don’t think I’m quite there yet, I’ll know when it feels right.
In addition to producing music you also work as a graphic designer and motion graphics designer. How would you compare and contrast creating visual art vs. musical art?
I think if you work in any creative medium the worlds will start to merge and influence each other. You start to find similarities with each medium and your work starts to utilize tools you’ve learned from both practices. It even affects the way that I cook and make meals. Although my process is completely different for visual art and music, my workflow is generally the same. I start my music with a short sketch to flesh out an idea sometimes something as simple as beatboxing into my phone or scratch recording quickly in Ableton, which is the same for my visual art I always start in my sketchbook until I get an idea, and then I keep sketching because never go with your first idea until you’ve tried other options! Creating a full A/V experience has always been my end goal for the project, but I’m just waiting for the right time. I want it to be an experience and I just don’t think I’m quite there yet, I’ll know when it feels right.
Have you had the chance to do your first stand-up set yet? If, so how did it go? If not, is it still a goal of yours?
I haven’t… But It’s always been a goal of mine. I’ve always wanted to try it because it terrifies me, but I think it would also be extremely liberating if it went well. One day.
You recently tweeted “it’s the shitty/mindless reality tv stage of my quarantine.” What are you watching?
Haha… Yeah, so I watched this show called Instant Hotel where a bunch of Aussies stay in each other’s Airbnb’s and then rate their stay and basically just roast each other. My partner was watching Love is Blind which is the worst/best show because it’s absolutely insane, totally scripted but I don’t care. All of the intense psychological and anxiety ridden shows and movies I normally watch just aren’t hitting right when I’m quarantined, and especially the dystopic inspired ones, because that feels a little too real or foreshadowing during this time…
I can’t wait to be able to hug and make out with all of my friends, everything else is secondary at this point…
What are you most excited about for the remainder of the year?
To be perfectly honest I can’t wait to be able to hug and make out with all of my friends, everything else is secondary at this point…
Tell us a little bit about the mix. If it was a dessert what would it be?
I made this mix with tracks that I was collecting for some late night festival slots this year (cry face). I included lots of IDs from myself and friends as well as tracks that have influenced my sound over the years. I think we as DJs always get stuck on playing the newest/freshest dubs and forget about some of the timeless tracks that will always hit. If it was a dessert it’d be the sexiest dessert there is, creamed corn!
Flying Lotus – 1983
Tsuruda – spicy bois rained out w/ Mike Parvizi
Ivy Lab & Two Fingers – Talk To Me
OAKK – ID
Halogenix – Wolf
Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – Take_it_back_v2
OAKK – IMSOSORRY
Nire – Hopscotch (ft. Nani Castle & Nini Rey) (Tony Quattro Remix)
Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats – Big Titties (ft. Baauer & EARTHGANG)
OAKK – HELLO404
Tsuruda – q-edits #2
JuLo – Temp
Natureboy Flako – Besito
Tierra Whack – Unemployed
OAKK – Twenty Twelve
Ivy Lab – Wideboi
Mr. Carmack – nell
OAKK – Talk To Me x Ticklish – Trophies Edit (DJ Edit)
Smalltown DJs – What’s Your Poison (OAKK Remix)
OAKK – ID
Alix Perez – U
OAKK – In Control
OAKK – Eclipse Flow
Deft – ID
OAKK – ID
Djemba Djemba – Macking in the Car (I Don’t Drive)
Sam Binga x Fracture x Rider Shafique – Back It Up (OAKK Late Night Edit)
A.Fruit – Gonman (ft. D.E.)
Machinedrum – Back Seat Ho (Rustie Remix)
OAKK – ID
Deft – For Sudden
Halogenix – Her Waves VIP
OAKK – Tricks
Rhi – Swagger (OAKK Remix)
Mk.gee – cz