Techno Tuesday: Oscar G on bringing ‘The Culture’ back into house
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
One of America’s top house exports has come out with another class album to add onto his extensive discography. For The Culture is Oscar G‘s homage to the scene that he’s been a heavy contributor to for close to three decades. Unfolding across twelve tracks, each synthesizes classic house and modern popular elements into timeless house with ease. The LP immediately captivates with its opener—a sensuous dance-floor-ready imagining of Ashanti and Fabolous’ “Into You” featuring vocals from Katiahshé —and only continues to do so throughout the rest. For The Culture as a whole is distinctively Oscar G, and shows off an artist with an unwavering commitment toward maintaining the integrity of the sound that drew him into a life in dance music. But, it stretches this format enough to show edge as well.
The album is also special because it recognizes local stars as well. Many of For The Culture‘s tracks are collaborations with artist friends like Lazaro Casanova, Ronald Rodriguez, Stryke, and more. Keen to hear more on the inspirations behind the album, the writing process, and his MO toward music writing in general, we picked Oscar’s brain for this Techno Tuesday. Order a copy of For The Culture here in the meantime.
What was the inspiration behind For The Culture? Has making an album with the help of fellow local talents been an item on your bucket list? What about the message you’re looking to convey?
In a dance culture that has long been defined by originality and individuality, we find ourselves in a moment where music is strictly defined by genres and the mass appeal merchandise items attached to them—be it hair-dos, clothing, drugs etc. I was originally attracted to a movement with a diverse following that appealed to the streets. These days, that movement seems at times like it’s been gentrified into high end elitist VIP experiences in exotic locations with a soundtrack that is regurgitated and uniform sounds that are posing as essential forms of music who’s pioneers thanklessly pushed forward. This album is my humble attempt at recognizing that original culture that first inspired me and continues to today.
Let’s dive deeper into the album process. How did you go about writing each track and putting it into place? Are there any plugins/synths/gear items that played a big role in putting together a lot of the tracks, or was there a routine you followed to help your creative flow?
About six months after I started working on the album I decided to listen to the ten or so tracks I had completed to get a vibe for how close to complete the project was. I ended up dumping every single track, as they sounded like a collection of mindless tech house that would probably get me a bunch of bookings…ha!
From that point on, things started moving much faster and smoother. I began using technics that I used long ago with my SP-1200 drum sampler, but instead with Pro-Tools software. Song ideas started coming together much easier, and I broke away from studio habits I had formed. When you make music for a long time you can get caught up in comfort zones. I tried to break out of that by tapping in to the way I made music when I was first starting out. This was inspiring in many ways. I then called friends Stryke, Lazaro Casanova, Oba Frank Lords, Katiahshe and Ronald Rodriguez to collaborate on several of the songs.
In the end, I just hope it does justice to the culture it represents.
Is there any track in particular on the LP that defines it? Why is that, if so? How have you seen “the culture” evolve over time, and how has it stayed the same?
I think the album is defined by its diversity. No single track or genre defines it much like the culture it represents. This culture is always evolving and always seems to have a new surprise waiting around the corner. Certain things things don’t change though. People will always feel the need to move to the sound of drums. That is as pure as it gets.
What can young fans do to keep the spirit of “the culture” alive?
Keep an open mind. Focus on the music.
What does house music mean to you?
House music has been a huge part of most of my life. It’s what I do. It has taken me around the world and put a roof over my family’s head and food on our table. It is a sanctuary I can always count on. It is the love of my life.
After being in the scene for so long, how do you go about pushing yourself as an artist and finding new inspiration to create?
I never look back and never buy my own bullshit or hype. I try to stay in touch with what got me hooked on this to begin with.
Inspiration is a gift and not always easy to come by. I try not to force it and instead live my life with the ones I love and pray that I’ll continue to be blessed with inspiration.
What does a day in the studio look like for Oscar G?
I’m not a regular schedule type studio person. Sometimes I will go a month or two without setting foot in there, then there are times that I will go into full hermit no sleep no shower creative binges. A day in the studio probably begins at about 1am and ends with lunch the next day. I don’t have a regular process but I do usually start things off with drums and basslines. The best projects usually come together quicker than most.
What’s your current setup?
In the studio I am a big fan of Pro-Tools. I use a lot of Native Instruments and IK multimedia plug-ins. I also use my roland 909 & 808 as well as older analog synths I love like the Yamaha TX81Z and Oberheim Matrix 1000. In the DJ booth I use a Pioneer 900 Nexus 2 mixer with Traktor and X1 controllers (first generation because I prefer them to the newer model).
How do you prepare for a marathon set?
I tend to spend most of my time organizing music for marathon sets. I usually go through promos and buy music one day a week. When preparing for a marathon, it’s less of that and more of just making sure I’m aware of where my music is and make it easy to get to. I want to make sure I play the stuff I’m sure of but also can get to stuff I’m not sure about or need to read the crowd to figure out. I also like to have a certain map in mind. A general outline of the ride you want to take people on. In the end though, it’s all about connecting with people the night of and being ready. There is also the physical aspect of rest and hydration before hand. It can be a bit exhausting, but there is no more gratifying feeling than connecting with people for 10, 12, 15 hours!
Last words before we conclude? Upcoming projects outside the album or other fun things in the pipeline?
I am always grateful for and mindful of how lucky I am to do this. I appreciate every single person who listens to my music and dances to my sets. That is what keeps me going and inspires me the most.