Following on from the rather massive ‘I Need Release’ single, Octave One bring you their outstanding second studio album, "Summers On Jupiter", out now and available from iTunes Store. Electronic Directory chats to Lawrence Burden, a half of Octave One, talks to about their new album, working with Ann Saunderson, and the revolution of.
Interview with Lawrence Burden (Octave One) by Kazuumi Ishii
Your new album "Summers On Jupiter" takes off into new directions – after house, hip-hop and some swing, now you seem to have been interested in pure techno for quite a bit. What were your big inspirations in creating the album ?
True our last album (The Theory of Everything) did have elements of house, hip-hop and some swing as well as techno too. But we don’t think this album "Summers On Jupiter" is going off into a new direction for us. We feel more than anything, it’s revisiting our techno roots. So as we worked on this new album our influences were thrown back into what influenced us in the beginning. When we first started into creating techno we always wanted to make our electronic music have a human feel. We think our approach this time is back into the man and machine theme, but instead of creating to sound more human. This time allowing our style to become more mechanical and machine like.
The new album is a stunning journey within the Burden Brothers. The brothers are totally on form just now. How has the chemistry between the two/five of you developed over the past years ?
It’s funny that you ask about the chemistry between us now, because a few nights ago we kind of were having a bit of a conversation about growing up in our "musical tree". The dynamics are just as strong if not more so now then they were in the early days of Octave One. The early days saw the band pretty much revolving around the first generation if you will of Burden brothers, Lawrence, Lenny and Lynell. We came together with our own particular styles that we clung to and brother to the table. Lynell was more jazz influenced, Lenny was more hard edge industrial, and Lawrence liked more styles of music that was orchestral based. Which you can really hear all of the elements in our first record that we did with our friend Anthony "Shake" Shakir. Our other brothers were literally youngsters (Lance was 8 and Lorne was 5) when we were jacking in our family home based studio. Little did we know when we shut the studio down and left the house they were in their working on music themselves…lol ! They weren’t recording but were in there smacking on our keyboards and playing with the effects through the mixer! When we were in the studio we used to get so engulfed in making our music that we didn’t realize that the little bros were hanging in the studio back off in the corner or laying in the doorway watching us and learning from our techniques. When we realized that they were soaking up the vibes, we took them under our wings and taught them properly the way we would have wanted to learn. But it was too late…lol ! Boys had already came up with there own morphed style encompassing our styles and the elements that they like from the streets. But then it really was an older brothers taking the hands of their younger sibling. You jump down to the present and it seems like the rolls have become somewhat reversed. We can’t tell you how many times we sit back and listen to some of there music with utter amazement trying to find out how they did certain things. Its almost like there teaching us now !
Have you thought about how far you are able to stretch your musical limits ?
We don’t really think we have thought about that so much. For us, we think it would take away from us freely trying to create. When we approach music we like to just let things occur or happen at will and not consciously sit down and say let’s try mixing this with that or let’s do this style or that style. We really dig things happening organically, cause you never know what you might end up with and that’s the beauty of music for us. The freedom to fly and soar at will !
There are alot of vocals in your music. Do you write lyrics yourself or do you collaborate on ideas with vocalists ? Working with vocals is a difficult transition with techno but you have done it with style.
Thank you for the complement ! We do like to use vocals with our techno, it kind of feels like the next instrument for us once we’ve played all that we can instrumentally. We often will do both, write ourselves and collaborate with others. Lately, we have been doing a lot of collaborations with Ann Saunderson with our tracks. We’ll go through a lot of writers from time to time then we will finally run across a writer who gets it, our quirkiness ! Kind of like the late Aaliyah and Timberland ! That’s what Ann is to use our Aaliyah…lol !
You are working with Ann Saunderson on the new album again. — ‘Blackwater’ was such a huge hit. Did you feel under pressure to follow it up ?
Naw, absolutely no pressure. You see Blackwater just happened, it wasn’t something that we just sat down to do. It goes back to when we were talking about things just occurring or happening organically. It was one of those songs that we just let happen organically. Even the way we released it just happened, no fanfare we just threw the record out like we pretty much do all of our tunes and it grew from the "root". The underground !
Do you have a favourite track on the album ? I really like ‘What A Revolution Is’, very cool hypnotic groove that has velocity and a touch of funk to it.
Come on, that kind of question would have us here all night ! Maybe even bring forth a rare fight verbally among us…lol ! We all have tracks that we might have done or done more parts on that we lean towards or like more than others. So’ll we’ll just say for the sake of argument that your favorite is our favorite too…lol ! We’ll make it so that anybody that interviews we’ll say that to them…LOL !
What a revolution is ?
What a revolution is, is Change ! It’s as simple as that, either through sometimes violent or non-violent means. Its the will of the people, whatever that will is.
You’ve had a really heavy touring schedule lately. What have been the high points so far ?
You mean outside of all the drugs and debauchery…lol ! No, no, no just joking…lol ! Wow, it’s hard to say because we’ve been to so many countries and seen so many people. Hmm…maybe the fact that no matter the country, ethnicity, economic climate or language people are at this point worldwide that they just want to close there eyes and shut out the world outside and just dance. We don’t mean just dance, we mean dance like there’s no tomorrow. We kind of feel that the climate of this world we live in, just makes people want to release and we feel blessed to deliver that to them. That’s our highest point !
So, how much do you think the vibe on the dancefloor is affected by outside events, such the state of the world or people being anxious about the economy ?
Haha ! I think we answered that ! People globally are ready for a Revolution !!
How do you feel about what’s going on politically around the world ? Especially as an American living abroad.
We kind of don’t pay a lot of attention to politics to much. But from what we see from here in the USA, things haven’t worked for a while. Its been going down a climatic tube and people instead of going the way they usually turn wanted a political change in hope that things will get better. It might be the same way around the globe too, people usually want change when things aren’t working for there benefit. Right ?
What about mister Barak Obama ?
Obama, enough said !
Humans are hesitant to accept differences, especially when the issue comes to areas like race, religion and politics. But on the other hand, we can sometimes be quite tolerant of differences on a few areas, like music. Do you think music can still unite people ?
Hasn’t music always united people ? Well we should say unconsciously that is, think about it. We don’t know how many times that we’ve been to different countries and heard James Brown or some other soul artist on the radio, or when some car load of kids drive up next to us blasting rap music and we say I wish that "brother" would turn that profanity down. Just to turn our heads to look in there car and see a car load of white kids…lol ! And we’re sure in some African countries there are some tribes that might be warring against each other grooving off the drum rhythms of the opposing tribe, or some Pakistani child dancing to the rhythm of a Indian artist. These examples might only be few, but it just shows you how unconsciously music has always been uniting people if allowed to. But its when our conscious nature kicks that we become divided from the same ones that might have shared what we share and enjoy ! It’s sad but true !
The second generation artists like you defined one style of electronic music. Do you think that you’re still an inspiration for your followers or do you look around now to get inspiration from them ?
For us we were and always will be inspired by music that is inspiring. It might sound a bit confusing, but any vibe that moves us soulfully inspires us, be it a legend or a newcomer. We kind of feel music always feeds itself. We listen and become inspired to inspire others who become inspired.
Finally, what can we expect of Octave One in Japan – is "Summers on Jupiter" a good guide, or does it really depend on the mood of the night ?
Who knows, we’re kind of insane…lol ! It really kind of depends on what we’re feeling that night, but it will involve a lot of the music from the new album for sure !
Octave One Japan Tour 2008
Octave One are playing gigs on the following dates:
Octave One will release Summers On Jupiter on 20th January 2009
Octave One – Summers On Jupiter [430 West]
A masterpiece that shows the Burden Brothers on top form. Intense and unmissable, this is the classic Detroit techno record I’ve heard in a couple of years.
- 01. Xistence
- 02. Here Comes The Push
- 03. One People, One Planet
- 04. Life After Man
- 05. Rachel’s Prayer
- 06. Release (The Dub)
- 07. A World Divided
- 08. Between Dreams
- 09. Suddenly Human
- 10. What A Revolution Is
- 11. I Need Release
- 12. Closer to Forever