cover photo by Collin Taylor
Hailing from New Zealand, Oscar Davey-Wraight, better known as OPIUO, has created his own unique style of “funkadelic bass music”. With his unique sound, it is creating a steady fan base who enjoy the glitch-hop tunes. We had the opportunity to check in with OPIUO and ask him about his set at Suwannee Hulaween this weekend, his headlining show at Red Rocks, what life is like down under in Australia, and what his favorite activities are outside of the studio. Without further ado, OPIUO!
Festival Squad: Thank you for taking time to sit down with Festival Squad! How does it feel to be at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park?
OPIUO: It is amazing! We came in last night and had the night off. We walked around and watched some music and got lost up in Spirit Lake. An amazing place for a party!
Festival Squad: This is your first time at Suwannee Hulaween. How much planning in advance was done for your set this weekend?
OPIUO: I just completely reworked it over the last two days because I wanted to do something different, specifically for this place. I play fully live solo and every show is completely different and you never know what is going to happen.
Festival Squad: You made your US debut at Cervantes here in Denver back in 2010. What makes Denver so special to you?
OPIUO: It is something in the water. People love music, they support music, they are positive and awesome. If I lived in the states I would live there. I love Boulder and in actual Denver I have got so many friends. It is so beautiful everywhere.
Festival Squad: How does the music scene in the US compare to Australia and New Zealand? How much has the scene evolved in the US since you first played here in 2010?
OPIUO: I think altering music became the main type of music at festivals, which has been great because you have more chances to reach more people at different places. There is so many places to play and people spend their hard-earned cash to come see me play every night of the week; it is incredible.
Festival Squad: Who are your musical influences in today’s scene and who is a dream collaboration that you wish you could make a reality?
OPIUO: I grew up around festivals when I was really young and there was one in New Zealand called the Gathering and it was the first time I was really surrounded by big, loud sound systems. I wouldn’t name specific artists, but a group called Pitch Black from New Zealand and they inspired me a lot back then. I was really into the Beastie Boys and all other sorts of hip-hop. When I was making music early on, I made some breaks, drum and bass, trance, and housey stuff, but one day I decided to slow it down because I like the hip-hop feel to it. Once I started doing that, I got shown artists like Bassnectar and Tipper because I had no idea about it until someone had mentioned them to me. That was very inspiring and it is hard to remember your specific inspirations, but that is the general feeling of it. The first artists that come to mind to collaborate with Noisia and Tipper.
Festival Squad: You formed the OPIUO Band with a few friends back in the mid-2010’s. Do you still play shows with the OPIUO Band nowadays?
OPIUO: Yeah, we are doing an orchestra show in Melbourne in a week at a venue called the Forum. The guitarist and the saxophone player are actually in the orchestra as well as the band. It is important to surround yourself with people you have been with for a long time.
Festival Squad: You headlined your first show at Red Rocks earlier this year and you brought a 20-person orchestra, the Syzygy Orchestra. Who were the members for this orchestra and what makes this orchestra so special?
OPIUO: Members wise, it was built by Tom Hageman who arranged and composed the orchestra sections. I sent him some pieces that I liked and he just ran with it. By the end of it, I wasn’t really changing much with the last movements. He was the hero and he put it together through people he knew and who he thought was amazing in the area. It was a cool experience because I had to give someone full trust to pick the musicians, which I had never done because normally I pick the people I want. The people who came, I had no previous connection with and to see them react to the music and be excited about the show and seeing them perform in freezing cold weather, it was a testament to a really cool bunch of people.
Festival Squad: Have you considered recording an album with the 20-person orchestra or recording your Red Rocks set for the fans who are unable to attend?
OPIUO: Yeah, I released the album of the full set and it is available online (live Red Rocks set). It took months to mix to get it right. I have now started thinking about doing some studio work. I don’t want to add just the orchestra work to the same thing, I want to make something completely fresh again; I want to challenge myself with that whole idea.
Festival Squad: During your down time, what are some of your favorite activities and hobbies to help you decompress from tour and festival life?
OPIUO: Mountain biking, ride motor bikes, hang out with my girlfriend and friends, mainly do shit outdoors. Sometimes I want to sit still and watch a movie. Although when I am home I don’t get a lot of time off, but try to get a bunch of exercise.
Festival Squad: Any big plans for the rest of the year? How about for 2019?
OPIUO: I’ve got some new music and finished an EP. A bunch of shows and I will be coming back next year…