Raised by the OWSLA Family: The rise of Milo & Otis
It’s a Wednesday night in Orlando. Henry Fong hosts a show, and invites a few friends out to play with him – specifically Nymz, Killagraham, and Dallas K. Afterwards, the four producers head back to Dallas K’s crib to make a number of tracks together that are then released for free.
This supergroup is called DEFEP, and there’s a reason you’ve never heard of them before; this is 2011.
“We were all kind of like ‘oh, let’s make music together,’” Killagraham declares as he shuffles in his seat. Nymz takes over and casually explains that they didn’t make too much music, but the lack in quantity of recorded work holds little importance – what matters is that Milo & Otis was born out of the group.
The rise of Milo & Otis is one of great interest for electronic music enthusiasts. Seemingly out of the blue, a new trap duo arrived on the scene, dropped a number of incredibly produced and delicately crafted remixes, and was promptly invited to join Skrillex on his Mothership Tour, one of the hottest concert bills this year. Graham and Matt’s connection to OWSLA, though, began at the end of last year.
“I convinced Matt to move out to LA in October of last year,” Graham shares, “when he got out here, we were just making random stuff. We decided it was time to get an agent – we have all these songs, and we’ve been doing all these things.” Graham then draws a connection to Kill The Noise, one of the higher-ups on the bass hierarchy, who helped them secure an agent.
The big break comes through with a remix of old buddy Henry Fong’s “Stand Up,” which caught the ear of Sonny Moore himself as the track released on his label. Following that, Sonny got Milo & Otis in the studio. “Sonny wanted us to do stuff with him. So [Graham] worked with him on a track on his album, and [we] did a remix with him. Then he asked us to come on the tour.”
Anyone tuned into electronic music artists’ social media know very well that The Mothership Tour was filled with jokes and shenanigans – one would expect nothing less with Emoh Instead and Dillon Francis being in a room together, let alone touring together. Behind the scenes, though, it was all business; Milo & Otis got to hop in the studio with most of the artists that hit the tour. Though not many of those projects were taken to completion, all the producers on tour exchanged tricks and ideas with the goal of expanding their production arsenals from their peers’ tips.
What sets the duo apart, though, and what has boosted them to the spotlight, is the idea of contrast. “Sometimes I’ll play a beat for somebody, and in the middle part, people will be like ‘is this the same song?’” Nymz and Killagraham laugh, “we like to keep things not limited to the [maximum energy].” While many artists pour their souls into the idea of big extravagant production sets and blinding light shows, Milo & Otis have a different concept in mind even down to their clothing; Graham always sports an outfit of all black with a bright and noticeable bowtie, while Matt’s contrast comes alive in the brim of his otherwise all black hat. “You need it to be soft before it can be loud,” the duo agree.
The same contrast stuck out very clearly in the Beatport Riverside tent on Randall’s Island during the unfortunately stormy Milo & Otis. The sky looked grim as the two took to the decks, and the neon-toting fans poured into the tent in a massive rush to catch the trap duo. As Virgil Abloh and the Been Trill crew moved aside for Killagraham and Nymz, the boys transitioned smoothly out of the previous set, which ended on a high note with Bobby Shmurda’s latest smash single. And, of course, with bright lights to their backs, the contrast of Matt’s hat and Graham’s tie stood out as they smiled.
It isn’t hard to see why the duo has faced such immense success when they perform. Matt and Graham are simply electric on stage. At Electric Zoo, the duo took to a smaller stage than they were used to, but dominated the tent with a setlist that was certainly amongst the finest of the weekend. The sonics ranged from all the great Milo & Otis productions, eventually touching a bit on Showtek, and working in some lower key productions, including one from Rickyxsan.
As Milo & Otis chugged along into a big-room trap remix section of their set, masses started to join the party on the Beatport Riverside. While the crowd was extremely excited to catch a glimpse of the producers, word spread quickly of the festival’s shutdown; the new show attendees had spilled over from The Chainsmoker’s set as Made Events pulled the plug. For a few minutes, the covered party continued on, but only after a few minutes, the same fate awaited Matt and Graham.
“We were like ‘what the hell is going on!’” Matt declares, before Graham steps in to explain further and share the planned tracks from the shortened set, which included the older track renditions from the duo. “It just faded out, and we’re like ‘wait, this isn’t how the song goes.’ I tried to grab the mic, but that wasn’t working either.”
Aside from the drama, the set rounded out a massive festival season for the OWSLA family incumbents. Mentioning monster crowds at HARD Summer and Paradiso, the duo reminisced on the summer fun. With the next step approaching, Milo & Otis promised the power duo wouldn’t see the same fate of recent production collectives.
“I like playing with Matt.” It’s simple, Milo & Otis are here to stay. While you may be lucky and catch a solo set from Nymz or Killagraham randomly (or potentially as part of the idea of a DEFEP reunion, about which I’m crossing all my fingers and toes), there is plenty in the works to keep Milo & Otis, along with their fans, afloat for a long time.
While you can certainly expect a fresh VIP of a recent Milo & Otis track, a remix for Steve Aoki, and even a track with Paul Wall, the duo has bigger long term plans. The producers remained extremely tightlipped about the project, but confirmed that there is certainly a new EP on the horizon. It will be different from what you’ve heard from Milo & Otis in the past, but the “trappy vibes” will certainly remain.
Milo & Otis have brewed up their own perfect storm. They look forward to tackling the Majestic As Fak tour with Kill The Noise and Ape Drums, and have dominated the trap scene with their remixes. The vertical potential of the brand Killagraham and Nymz have created, with the OWSLA and fellow artist support they have received, is incredible. This is only the beggining.
Also, Matt got a haircut, and Graham thinks bowties are cool.