San Diego–based artist, Ookay has seen a steady rise in the last few years. The release of his single, “Thief,” encompassed a different side to the bass and trap he became known for but shows that his potential as an artist knows no bounds. Breaking the boundaries of genre, the catchy electronic love ballad is backed by a warped saxophone solo and, if we’re being honest, slaps really hard. Aside from music, Ookay’s talents touched on other mediums when he created his beautiful and intersectional video for “Thief” with the help of his team. Released with the hashtag, #LoveIsLove, the video shows a diverse group of couples against a simple pink backdrop as the artist sings around them. It’s this type consideration that makes Ookay one of our current favorites, and we were able to chat with him before his appearance at Das Energi Festival next month.
EDM Utah: From your beginnings in bass and trap what inspired the change to a sound more like what we heard in “Thief?”
Ookay: I think it was just that the repitition got old to me. I was kind of doing the same thing over and over again and not really pushing myself creatively. I wasn’t pushing the boundaries and I feel like every artist has to do that every once in awhile just to get the creative juices flowing. It wasn’t so much of a challenge to me but it was more of me seeing what I can do as an artist and how far I can get away with something as being known as a trap and bass artist to do something so different and have it work. I felt like that was a challenge and almost like an experiment.
EDM Utah: Did you do the saxophone yourself or did you have that recorded?
Ookay: No I didn’t do that, I found a recording and it didn’t sound anything like that when I found it but I did a lot of manipulation. It sounds really natural so I’m happy with how it came out. Luckily it’s playable on the saxophone.
EDM Utah: I feel like a lot of artists in the present day kind of run into this issue of having to create things that are marketable to the masses before they’re able to do what they want to do, do you feel like that’s becoming better or worse as music becomes more saturated?
Ookay: I don’t think its a bad thing I think people are practicing and getting better. That’s what makes the genre so popular is that a lot of people like it so a lot of people want to create it. I can’t blame the saturation on people, they’re just learning to be producers. I was making the same genre over and over again but that made me become a better producer because I learned how to work faster and [find] what works for me. I learned how to get the sound that I wanted. With practice you repeat something over and over again and you become, I guess, a professional at it. I can’t blame any producers that like a certain style of music and keep creating the same kind of content almost because I was in the same boat when I started.
EDM Utah: What was the inspiration for the thief video?
Ookay: I was on a plane one day and it kind of struck me to start creating a music video just off the bat without talking to my manager or getting any advice from anyone or any opinion on if I should do it or not. I started writing all of the scenes out, how I wanted it to look and the overall aesthetic, colors and kinds of people that I wanted to be in it. It was all pre-planned, I did it all by myself and it wasn’t until I sent it over to Red Light [Management] and my team over there that we were able to bring it to life. It was a team effort but it started off as just a simple idea, that’s how most beautiful things start off I think.
EDM Utah: You’ve been everywhere in terms of where your shows have taken you, what’s been one of your more memorable experiences?
Ookay: Well I always loved Japan. I love going to Tokyo.
EDM Utah: Oh me too!
Ookay: Right, that place rids me of my money though. I’ll be down to my last two ¥, I always get more than I should and it always ends up gone.
EDM Utah: Will Das Energi Festival be your first time in Salt Lake?
Ookay: No, I think i’ve played in Salt Lake before. I can’t remember the name of the venue, though.
EDM Utah: Is there anything you’re trying to check out when you’re in Utah this time?
Ookay: I have some friends out there … I like to see more of the local side of cities, I’m not really into the tourist stuff. I’d like to try some cool food and I like trying a lot of the local breweries. I also hear The Great Saltair is really pretty.
EDM Utah: It is, it’s an awesome venue. So I know you have a pretty dank meme stash, what’s been your favorite meme of 2016?
Ookay: I think Harambe is one of my favorite ones right now, I literally can’t stop laughing about those.
EDM Utah: Harambe and the gators, the Disney gators. Dicks out for Harambe, though.
Ookay: I don’t know why that’s such a funny meme but it is.
EDM Utah: I know that drinking bleach is also a pretty big meme right now, but I wanted to know if you would take a shot of the Great Salt Lake at Das Energi this year?
Ookay: If it doesn’t kill me I will.
EDM Utah: I’m holding you to that.
Ookay: Oh god, is it going to be really bad, green water?
EDM Utah: No, I think it’s just salt water.
Ookay: Oh yeah, I’ll totally drink it then I don’t care. I’ll probably get sick but it will be worth it for the meme.
Ookay will be one of the many headliners you can catch at Das Energi Festival, check out the lineup by clicking below!