Black, White. and Red all over
What do Cannibal Corpse, MC5, Adult. and moombahton have in common?
Published: May 23, 2012
OctoRed: Actually, around 2004 I started working with emcees from Detroit doing more straightforward rap and hip-hop stuff, so that was pretty Detroit-y, I guess you could say. I was listening to a lot of the grime [U.K. rap style] stuff coming off of the pirate radio stations — I absolutely loved the bass and the way these British emcees were tearing through the beats lyrically. It was all about hype and danceability. Then I started hearing some of the deeper, more dubby dubstep stuff coming from the UK and I wasn't completely impressed — the beats didn't move me. By then I found a local emcee with Jamaican roots and we started recording our own brand of grime tracks. Nothing really came of it but did get a better sense how to make tracks that were more DJ-friendly. And then that UK dubstep came out and I was shocked — both at how it sounded but also how popular it was over here [like Skrillex].
MT: Dubstep is like a DJ/dance genre designed for people with no reference points to DJ or dance culture. I mean, it's like if Korn had invented dub reggae instead of Lee "Scratch" Perry.
OctoRed: I never associated it with dance music, but it had some primal thing I really liked. It was like how I thought drum n' bass should have been sounding — just minus the breaks. It also sounded more to me like the grime stuff with less of a soul. I still get chills when I hear a massive tune on a giant system, but it doesn't seem to go anywhere fast.
MT: So how do you make the transition from a dubstep dabbler to "OktoRed: the future of Detroit bass for the rest of the world."
OctoRed: Last October, on what seemed to be an average delivery at my pizza job, I turn a corner and have a gun in my gut. At that point I knew I had to make a change and get very serious with the music, because anything could happen — and almost did.
MT: You can do it full time?
OktoRed: Well, now juggling music as work, instead of music and work, trying to balance between the OktoRed stuff, Cocky Balboa (GhettoTech/Juke) stuff. I'm still working with Lise as Gauche Kids and helping her with her second solo release for Cinq7 out of France. I'm pretty much a recluse.
MT: Where does OktoRed sit within the Detroit traditions?
OktoRed: Detroit music has always been about keeping things fresh and original. I mean you listen to "Strings of Life" and then, like, "Knights of the Jaguar" 10 years later, and those are like, completely different and original. For me, I'm not trying to keep up with what is going on everywhere else in the world. Even with the brand of moombahton I've been making, I make it my own.
MT: Let's talk about that. I mean, a reggae-fied version of Dutch music sounds about as funky as fanny packs on German tourists in white socks and sandals. How does it go over being a Detroit cat doing moombahton? I mean, why moombahton?
OktoRed: I really like the slower tempo and the different groove you can get out of the 106-115 BPM [beats per minute] as opposed to the 124-145 BPM range. Moombahton has less preconceptions so there's more wiggle room than writing stuff like tech-house or even dubstep now.
MT: But people are picking up on it?
OktoRed: It's a little harder to get a crowd to catch on because it's slower than most of the stuff at the clubs. I've actually gotten a better response outside of Detroit. For example, I have an EP coming out via a UK label Generation Bass in early June. They have featured a couple of my tracks on prior compilations as well. I'd say 90 percent of our vinyl sales come from Europe as well. It seems like a lot of people are looking to Detroit artists for new stuff but with a certain Midwestern sensibility for dance music. But right now I'm really trying to capture more than just club tracks. I'm really into the melodic side of dance music. Good melody with banging drums equal win.
MT: What does it mean to be playing Movement?
OktoRed: It means that I've made at the very least some good impression on the powers that be around here. I am 100 percent excited and zero percent nervous at this point in time.
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