Interview: Odeko

With an impressive debut release on Gobstopper Records, Odeko returned to the label earlier this year to follow up with two-track single “Digital Botanics” / “Conduct Construct”. He displays his own take on trap integrated with sounds stemming from the electronic world in “Digital Botanics”, placed alongside the more energetic “Conduct Construct”, which progressively paints an image of subtle, spiralling chaos. The Bath-based producer is clearly not one to shy away from experimenting in his musical realm, so we caught up with him to learn more about this project.

What is the meaning behind the song titles and how do they relate to the songs? “I tend to come up with names after I’ve made the track, so usually, just before I bounce the final mp3, I’ll try to come up with something. I have a vague range of themes and concepts I refer to when I name my tracks. With “Digital Botanics”, the clue is in the name. The way the track develops reminded me of the life cycle of a flower/general foliage, represented in a digital medium. Building up from the starting beat, hitting its peak then getting corrupted and turning back into whatever mess it came from.

““ConCon” isn’t as linked with the music as “DigiBot” (I hope those abbreviations annoy someone, somewhere). The track is quite rigid and obviously very electronic and I wanted to juxtapose that against something real or living. For some reason I was thinking about how robots would behave when no one else was around. A construct, in this case, would be a simulated/artificial representation of something or someone. So the track name literally means ‘the conduct of a construct’.”

Where did your influences come from for this project? “These tracks were two of many I’d been working on over the last year. They were the ones that Miles [Mr. Mitch] picked out of [a] bunch I sent to him, so it wasn’t conceived as a singular project initially. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what influenced the tracks. “DigiBot” is fuelled by trap and 80s funk, “ConCon” channels electro and drum tracks from the past couple decades.”

Can you talk me through your writing process for these songs? Did it differ from how you normally write music? “I wish I was aware of my own process, if I knew what that was I’d be finishing a couple of tunes a week. In reality though, it can take anywhere from 1 or 2 hours to 1 or 2 years to complete a track, start to finish. If I work on an idea and get stuck, I usually leave it and go back to it after x-amount of time. “ConCon” was an example of this. It started off at 137bpm, I got bored of it and shelved it for almost a year. Then I went back to the project again, dropped the bpm and it opened the track up enough for me to finish it. “DigiBot” was an attempt at writing a bouncy rap beat, but I got carried away with the synths and sound design. Started and finished that one within 3 months.”

There is a heavy presence of synths and 80s vibes. What is your relationship with 80s music? “As a millennial, it would be wrong for me to pretend I was around in 80s, the only real contact I’ve had with that era is via movies, TV shows and music. I’d love to go back in time again and experience the 80s as it was, but the closest thing to that now is GTA: Vice City. As an impressionable youngster, the soundtrack from that game will follow me around for the rest of my life. As music from that period is so ingrained in our culture at the moment, it’s hard not to give in and indulge yourself into the guilt.”

Do you think the type of sound you have explored in “Digital Botanics” / “Conduct Construct” would have came as a surprise to your listeners, compared to your previous release? “I honestly don’t know. It’s hard to work out where you stand in the world and how others perceive what you’ve already done. This EP is very much drum focused, whereas the last EP was more, me finding my feet I guess. I hope it’s not too much of a surprise for people.”

Would you say that there are more sides to you that your audience has not come across yet? “There are certainly more sides of me people haven’t heard, and some of those sides will probably never be heard. I did have another alias which is currently on hiatus, but that’s a subject for another time. I’m hopeful of more opportunities to share the various avenues I’ve been exploring but for now….”

Gobstopper Records is heavily associated with instrumental grime, bearing in mind previous releases and its affiliates. With that being said, why did you decide to return to them for this project? “When I started writing what is now A History With Samus, I had no idea Miles would be interested, but he was. It came out and he offered me to do a follow up, which I didn’t even need to think about. Miles offered a no-compromise approach with my music and for the first time, I was given a creative outlet where I could essentially do what I want. I didn’t need to make any adjustments to my tracks before they were released.

“Grime for me is a bit of an odd one. I’ve no real background with [the] genre and it’s an area I’m not particularly familiar with. That said, I find it hard to define grime as a particular sound at the moment. I feel Gobstopper is part of the Electronic Conglomerate (a term I’ve just coined), which encapsulates the merging areas of British/European/American and worldwide electronic music and rap scenes. Treating these sound areas as part of a larger whole makes it easier for me to write music, without adhering to genre checklists, or getting lost in current trends.”

What have you been up to between your last release and now? “Grinding the quests of life. Oh, and working. Lots of working. I’ve recently (at the time of writing, in fact) been in between jobs so that’s been very exciting.”

Where do your personal music tastes lie, aside from who you take as influences when creating music? “They completely overlap. I’ve touched on what I listen to elsewhere, but any mixes I do are a good indication of what my influences are and I’m currently into. I like to know what my favourite artists like and listen too, but they’re usually not forthcoming with revealing that info. So I’m going to take a leaf from their book…”

“Digital Botanics” / “Conduct Construct” is out now on Gobstopper Records and available to buy here.

Michelle Ulor