OC Notes is a man that those who know about swear by and those who don't shrug their shoulders and stare at you blankly. He doesn't seem to mind though, as he maintains a laid back demeanor pretty much always and is happy to make his music and have a good time. Towards the end of '09 his name started popping up more thanks to a huge collaboration with THEESatisfation, "Icing." I caught up with him at Jet Set and exchanged numbers. One Sunday morning I rolled through to his lab in downtown Seattle to see what he has cooking right now.
TML: Introduce yourself, what you do, how long you been doing it, where you're from?
I'm Otis, i've been making music my whole life. That's it man. I've been making music since I don't know.
TML: What instruments do you play?
Guitar, bass, keys, drums, and shit. That's pretty much it. Whatever, I'll try to play anything. Just figure it out. But I'm really good at that other shit though. I guess that's what you could say my main shit is.
Otis begins to deal with his computer which had frozen up and my attention began to drift around the room. The walls are covered in posters and my eyes lock on an old They Live! poster from Feb. 11, 2009.
TML: That old They Live! poster is tight.
Otis: That shit right there? That was at Neumos. Were you at that one? It was Le'Roy, that's me & Way Styles group, and then Larry and shit and ah, who else was there? Helladope & THEESatisfaction, that show was pretty tight.
TML: That's a pretty good line up.
Otis: There wasn't that many people there, that kinda sucked.
TML: That was like right at the start of all those cats gettin bigger.
Otis: Yeah it kinda was, cats were like huh? What's this?
TML: Le'Roy played the Mayer Hawthorne show at the UW, how was that?
Otis: That shit was crackin. The sound was like, I don't know what their sound is like but I imagine it's students who do it and it was hella loud. It was so loud. It was so loud dog. It was tight, I could dig it. It was great. Our set, the moniter speakers were blowing my ears out dog. That shit was hella fun, just cause I like any time i can play shit live and with that shit we can pretty much do whatever we want, we can improvise and shit. Shit was fucking crackin bro. I had so much fun. And then being able to, I really like James Pants a lot. Mayer Hawthorne is cool and shit, i dig what he does, but I think James Pants is super cool.
TML: You listen to that new James Pants album, Seven Seals?
Otis: I've heard some cuts off of it, I haven't listened to the whole record. I liked what i heard. It reminds me of that old 80s shit.
TML: The press for it is saying it's a soundtrack to a cult or somthing?
Otis: Yeah, man the record cover is fucking crazy. It's like fucking this cliff with fire and hell and a big ass demon.
Otis begins replaying a sample. Audioasis, his labmate, has stopped working on his tune and turns to listen to what is playing.
Otis: This is some shit I chopped up right before I went to Bellvue today. I've been mediating on this for a minute. I heard this shit yesterday and was like ahhhh I gotta make a beat with this but I was way to fucked up to do anything.
Audio: What is it?
Otis: It's fucking Willie Bobo, that record right there.
Audio: I saw that.
TML: I never see Willi Bobo records.
Otis: For Real? I love Willie Bobo records. You know who his son is? The fucking dude who plays percussion for Cypress Hill bro is Willie Bobo's son. Like their family is just raw on the percussion tip. And I guess Bobo is like, like there is hella percussionist called Bobo and shit it's like a name, i don't know what the origins are but it's like what they call a percussion player, i don't know.
Audio: He's from LA?
Otis: I don't know.
He resumes playing the sample, like he didn't miss a beat. Upon my arrival to the studio I was offered and poured a Mimosa.
TML: Can I score some more of that champagne?
Otis: Have as much as you want, it's the begining of the day. Yesterday I started with red, ended with white. Today we start with champagne.
TML: I like how you roll Otis.
Otis: Hell yeah bro, you gotta enjoy life.
TML: I was talking to Buffalo about that last night.
Otis: Yeah, that dude is crazy. He is a cool cat though.
TML: It was the first time I really had a conversation with him, but it was a pretty dope conversation.
Otis: He's crazy bro. I totally misunderstood that dude. I learned a big lesson from those dudes because I couldn't really stand their music or their performance when I first seen them. But I never talked to them as people, then when I actually talked to them I was like, whoa these guys are fucking cool bro! The same thing with Radjaw, that cat is cool. They are some cool cats dog. I was like why am I, I got caught up in that same bullshit everyone else in this town be caught up in, that snap judgeing shit. Fuck the music and all the other bullshit, as humans, we're all people. I have a daughter now. We are all someones son or daughter. We should all just be like, give everyone a chance to... You know what i'm saying, can I live! I can't believe I got caught up in, I can't be caught up in some bullshit like that so now I don't try to be like that cause those cats are cool. I might not be the biggest fan of their music, but as people man those guys are cool cats.
TML: And performance wise they are on a whole other level.
Otis: They get it crackin bro, I respect the shit out of that.
TML: Are we gonna see any OC Notes & P Smoov collaborations?
Otis: I'm trying to, I wanna do some shit with them. He wants to do some shit with me. We've talked about it but that cat is so busy, I'm hella busy. It'll happen one day. I really want to make a dance record. Let me give you one of my joints that just came out, here take this one. I'm really into, I like house music alot. Dance music, making people dance is filthy. Like I love Hip Hop that's like me too, but bro I love like good, like daft punk is cool, there is other cats though that are way filthy like Acufin, that Dam Funk shit is tight, thats kinda housey to me. That's funky, but it's like tempos, you could play that and motherfuckers will dance, that's what I like.
TML: I saw him play in Portland, he came out on stage w/ a keytar.
Otis: For Real? Oh man! Man if Dam Funk comes up here I want to open up for him, put that shit on the record if that cat comes up here OC Notes needs to open for him, we'll make it funky dog.
TML: He is such a good dude too.
Otis: He is one of the only cats on twitter who actually had some decent shit to say. And this is also what made me upset about that twitter, people wanna talk shit about people who like saying positive shit like cats are like "if you are gonna tell me some positive shit, or some trying to change my life I'm gonna delete you" so you just want people to say negative dumb bullshit all day? I don't wanna here that, I appriciate it when some one tells me to let my light shine, you know what I'm saying? Just some cool shit. He is a fucking cool cat. I wish I could grow my hair out like that. I'd do some crazy shit to.
At this point he has the sampled worked out how he likes and he has begun looking for drum sounds and play with what patterns he wants to lay down.
Otis: Man i love latin soul, dog (laughs). Straight up man, that's like I think the illest shit. That's like the most pimp shit. Joe Bataan and shit.
TML: I've been listening to the Arthur Verocai record.
Otis: Yeah man cats! Who else is flithy? Brenten Wood. Cats man.
TML: Stan Getz did some dope shit.
Otis: Fuck yeah man, hell yeah.
TML: Are you completely self taught? Or have you had people throughout your life that have helped you, mentored you?
Otis: I've definetly had people in my life teach me some shit that's for sure. As far as instruments go I'm pretty much... like when I was a little kid I had a cat, the first time I ever played the drums, this cat Ernest Henderson showed me how to go like (plays drum pattern with mouth and hands & table) and then he gave me a little piece of paper with like frame tabs and that's as much as I got and then I would just play at my house on cardboard boxes and shit. You know when you are in elementary school you have music class and shit, like I did that shit but I've never had a teacher teach me for a long ass time just people dropping jewels and me sitting in my room trying to figure that shit out.
TML: Taking a little bit of wisdom here and there. What grade was that that Ernest Henderson taught you that?
Otis: Third grade I think? Second or third grade. That dudes fucking sick bro. It was at St. Johns Baptist church who Stasia from THEESatisfaction actually went to the same church as me bro. We went at the same time, new the same people, and are invovled in the same shit and never new it until a couple months ago.
TML: Is that how the collaborations came about?
Otis: That shit was random bro, naw, it was hella random. I just really liked their music and then we got down in the lab and we were just talking about some shit and that shit came up and we were like whoa that's trippy, you know what i'm sayin, that shit is just random. It's cool though.
TML: Do you remember what the first beat was you ever heard was?
Otis: Like the first beat ever? Like ever in my whole life? Um, damn. I'd almost have to say , I don't know man. I'd almost have to say, cause I think the first Hip Hop shit I heard I'd probaly have to say something like Cameo or Blowfly and that's not even Hip Hop that's just like, i remember when i use to hear Cameo in my moms car and shit. Or just like, even like Funkadelic and Sugarhill gang cause my mom had all those records and she would play them and shit. That shit was filthy, i guess that's not really considered Hip Hop though.
TML: But it is though.
Otis: Yeah, technically pepople be like it's modern soul - it's funk.
TML: 80s precursor to Hip Hop.
Otis: Fucking genres, I don't like genres dog.
TML: Yeah genres are...
Otis: Yeah it's like limiting. I mean it can be helpful like if you are gonna DJ or something or you are gonna try to make a library.
TML: It's for categorization.
Otis: yeah exactly, cats take that shit way to serious.
TML: Do you listen to much dubstep shit?
Otis: Rusko and shit? My homie, his name is Thrills - Devlin, I consdier him my brother. He gave me my first beat program. He used to live behind my best friend when I lived in like Puyallup and he was like this legendary guy, this cool DJ guy who you could smoke weed at his house in the basement out of his 3 foot bong and his mom doesn't care. He was hella cool. He lives in the town and he hooked me up with my first copy of Reason and he made hella Hip Hop makes crazy music, proly one of the filthiest DJs ever and now he makes a lot of dubstep and electro. He's crazy man, he's really good at that shit.
TML: Last night I was listening to one of the '07 beat tapes you have on bandcamp and it sounded like you had some electro influence in there.
Otis: Yeah that was just like, them cats put me up to a lot of that game. I used to hate on that shit cause I never heard good shit and I didn't know there was good shit and then I met them cats and they have a crazy record collection of just ill music, it's all mostly dance music, that tempo. Their shit is filthy though. Like they got crazy shit like white label Basement Jaxx, shit that like so funky you know what i'm saying. Just crazy shit, shit that people don't have, shit that if you heard it and you don't like it you must have no soul.
TML: Do you know the first record you got?
Otis: My moms used to work in a record store when she was in High school and my moms side of the family has always been big into music and collecting records. So when we were little kids they divided my moms record collection and gave half of 'em to me and half of 'em to my sister and we both had like record players in our rooms. So like the first records I can think of were Funkadelic One Nation Under a Groove, Prince, Ms. Piggy's workout record, straight up like werid shit bro, stupied werid shit (sings song) my mom used to rock that shit all the time.
TML: Did that transform into diggin for records?
Otis: Man I just, I used to go to my grandmas house she always has hella records all over the place, like under the bed, in closests. So I always like to go to my grandma's house to just be able to look under the bed and shit because she has hella crazy shit and I'm not allowed to have any of it, I've took a couple joints, I pretty much just listen to it now. I used to get money I'd try and get records, just little thrift stores and shit. I look back at it now I just got crappy recors mostly but I used to be hella happy about it. I found hella jewels and shit you know what i'm sayin. that's just life.
TML: Do you not go much anymore?
Otis: I'm hella broke man so I can't really buy. It fucking sucks man cause I got homies like oh look at this record. I went to the one homies house and just like, this guy has the craziest record collection, it's tight cause i get to listen to it all there but it's like, i wish i had, i'm trying to get my bread up bro to be able to go record shopping like that. I stil cop shit, but not in the volume I'd like to.
TML: I pretty much took all of 09 off, but I miss it. It's fun.
Otis: Yeah, I got to many bills. Things are getting better.
TML: Thats good. What's your job, where do you work?
Otis: I work at a resturant on Mercer Island, I'm a chef. It's hella cool bro, yeah it's tight. I'm very grateful for my job.
TML: Pricey menu?
Otis: Yeah, I guess so. To me it is, I wouldn't pay the amount of money for a lot of the stuff. But people like, you know it's Mercer Island you have to charge or people won't even go there. It's a great job man I work with a crazy group of people.
Come back tomorrow for part two of my interview with OC Notes. For now download this set of exclusives Otis was nice enough to let me give y'all a peak at.