First Listen: Opiuo on new EP, ‘Syzygy 01’: ‘It’s a journey-filled, funkadelic party pie’
From the outset of his highly innovative act, Oscar Davey-Wraight introduced the world to a mind-bending blend of glitch-hop, breakbeat, synth-led funk and bass. What began as a humble bedroom act has evolved into the extremely diverse, immersive live experience that fans have come to know as Opiuo.
Now from the Australia-based artist comes his highly-anticipated seventh EP, Syzygy 01. With the singles “Botrok” and the groove-packed floor filler “Ginger Lizard” released ahead of the full EP, the 5-track production represents an aural embodiment of Opiuo’s zippy tones and cheeky party appeal. “The music [comes] from inspirations like Prince,” says Davey-Wright, “all morphed into Opiuo styles with some real New Orleans horns thrown on top for quality measure.”
From the sinister sounds of the album’s leading track, “Huckaloogee,” to the vibrant, old school funk- and disco-influenced track, “Boogie Latch,” Opiuo’s newest EP is packed with stark contrasts, wild sonic experimentation, and some of the loudest-yet-crisp electronic music productions we’ve heard to date. Syzygy 01‘s most memorable quality is perhaps the album’s outro, “Dalmations,” with its use of deep horns and more emotive, cinematic-tinged sounds — providing a memorable storybook ending to not just the new project but Opiuo’s entire discography up to this point.
Dancing Astronaut spoke with the New Zealand-born artist ahead of his Syzygy 01 EP release to gain a clear sense of Opiuo’s origins and evolution since 2007, how he came into his funkadelic bass music sound stamp, and what to expect from his upcoming headlining US tour which includes a headline show at the infamous Red Rocks Amphitheatre with SunSquabi, Flamingosis, and Anomali.
First off, can you tell us where the name Opiuo originated?
From my mind. Haha. Nothing too crazy to be honest. I used to DJ as a kid, started when I was 14 or so. I was always getting billed at festivals as Oska, or Oskar. I hated it having my real name up on the poster. So one day in graphics class at school I accidentally wrote OPIUO in the computer while working on a project. It looked cool. I love symmetry. I tried it out at the next festival I was playing and it felt good. It stuck I guess. I love that it has no real meaning. To me it allows people to create their own meaning, with whatever or however the music makes them feel.
You seem to have an interesting knack for playing with words. Can you enlighten fans on what exactly “Syzygy” means and how you arrived at this idea for the title of your EP?
Syzygy means: “a conjunction or opposition, especially of the moon with the sun. e.g. the planets were aligned in syzygy.” It also means “a pair of connected or corresponding things.” I think what I make is always a connection between myself, the music, and the listener. Once it is heard by anyone, its not only mine anymore, its theirs too. And that in turn influences me. The listener makes this music real. I love that everything we do always relies on multiple factors to give it its energy, its vibe, its feeling. Both opposition & connection push us forward. Especially in music.
Tell us what the EP means to you in just a few words.
Journey filled funkadelic party pie.
So the official EP title is “Syzygy 01” — does this mean the project is the first of more parts to come? If so, can you give us any insider details on any future plans?
Yes indeed. I plan to release more this year. That’s all I’ll say.
Your sound is a highly original and infectious blend of glitch-hop, funk, and bass. How did you come to join these genres into your own unique sound stamp? Any influencers?
Back in the day I used to DJ and make drum n bass & breakbeat. I also grew up going to festivals in the late nineties and early 2000s that had crazy big high energy trance. I love the ridiculous and dirty bass lines of drum n bass, the groove of breaks and hip-hop, and the euphoric nature of trance pads and short sharp stabs. I guess I just tried throwing it all together in 2007 or so. I was terrified to play my early music in amongst my sets, but to my surprise they ended up going off the most. So I just kept going. Always sticking to making what I wanted to, not what I thought I needed to. A few top influences at that time were Noisia, Chris Carter, The Rogue Element, Bassnectar, and Tipper.
You’ve evolved from bedroom producer to full live band in just several years time. How has the live band effected/evolved your overall sound?
The band was always a challenge I wanted to take on. I grew up in a band through my high school years, and I’ve always loved the element of playing shit on the spot, knowing it could go wrong at any moment. It’s something I love to do in my solo sets too as they’re always live, with me playing my bass lines, synth lines, vocal chops, drums, all on the spot on my multiple drum machines. It makes the show so much more fun to do day in and day out, always performed a little different every show. The band is just an extension of that. It allows us to expand sections, creating extra tension and release, layer horn parts on the fly, add vocals to songs that were previously instrumental, shred on guitars and get more power in the drums. In case you didn’t notice I fucking love big drums! haha. Plus touring with friends is always more fun.
Tell your fans what they have to look forward to on your upcoming headlining US tour.
So much new music. You will dance, I 100% guarantee it. It’s a wild funkadelic party of epic proportional matter flying through space aboard a wobble ship, with some extra awesome special things I can’t mention right now… Basically the funnest party in the galaxy night after night. Yup, that’s right!!
Syzygy 01 is available for purchase here.
Opiuo’s US tour dates are available below:
4/12/18 – Philadelphia, PA @ Coda – Tickets
4/13/18 – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall – Tickets
4/14/18 – Columbus, OH @ Skully’s – Tickets
4/21/18 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheater – Tickets
4/24/18 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall – Tickets
4/25/18 – Reno, NV @ Bluebird – Tickets
4/27/18 – San Francisco, CA @ Mezzanine – Tickets
4/28/18 – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room – Tickets
5/3/18 – Portland, OR @ 45 East – Tickets
5/4/18 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos – Tickets
5/5/18 – Vancouver, BC @ Celebrities Nightclub – Tickets
6/7/18 – Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Music Festival – Tickets