“You need to change for the sake of your understanding of what got you there in the first place” – Mike
Frontman/ guitarist Mike isn’t feeling 100%, perhaps from a stint of gigs in Europe and a sharp return to London for Radio 1 man Phil Taggart‘s club night: SLACKER at OMEARA. A mixed bill topped by alternative-rock band DEAD!, and opened by Plastic People. Lamb dumplings, a potent harissa and flat bread adorn the table in the food court of OMEARA as I sit down with cousins Mike and Joel (synth and percussion) before their show.
On the surface, basic comparisons can be made to Otzeki’s sound. Take the intimacy and minimalism from The xx’s early output and the movement of Jamie xx’s solo work to the smooth vocals and tropical beats of Glass Animals/ Wild Beasts. Dig deeper into what makes up Otzeki‘s sound, and hear tales of death, primal instinct and uncertainty backed by electronic experimentalism, all packed into song format.
Mike – “Joel’s got quite in depth knowledge of quite avant-garde tempo and electronic stuff, we’re starting to see this as an opportunity to be able to explore that within a song capacity, but we’re also writing just with acoustic instruments as well which we haven’t done before”
On the 23rd of March, Otzeki sold out east London’s 150 capacity gem the Sebright Arms, four years after having performed nameless, with a slightly different line up, to an audience of “a couple of people”. An amazing and very circular achievement, of which the band are rightly proud of. On the night itself, the duo’s natural connection and energy was contagious, and effortlessly spilled over the crowd. It was the sort of show that made you question whether everybody else in attendance knew each other, such was Joel and Mike’s bond with their audience. There was a feeling of togetherness, and as Mike jumped off the stage to walk through the audience mid song, mid set, he was at one with the people, no act, no over played stage show.
Mike – “..it’s rare that you get people with similar interests in the same room.. we authentically have a good time, or authentically have a bad time”
About a year ago, London based cousins Mike and Joel turned loose their four track E.P “Falling Out” which was very well received. Since then they’ve released singles “Touch“, “Already Dead” and most recently “All This Time“.
Mike – “With Falling Out we narrowed it down from 10 songs to 4 and we were very much discovering what our interests were, and we still are hugely, i think in this time, in this last year, we’ve started going to Europe, realising that we can do more interesting things with the music than we were perhaps doing before.. finding a way of informing the live performance with the experimental nature of the music and trying to find different ways of making things a journey”
Otzeki are keen to survive in a constant state of flux, challenging the limits of what is sonically possible within each other and being true to themselves doing it. We talk about how modern music chases plays, algorithms and becomes “industry led as opposed to to human led”. We talk about the split between the overground and underground in modern music and how artistic progression requires freedom to develop and experimentation. We live in a time whereby music is somewhat disposable, for every artist riding the industry hype machine there are hundreds more snapping at their heels eager to have a moment in the sun.
Mike – “I don’t think people are exploring quite to the capacity that they could because there’s a certain kind of pressure to fulfill a kind of box or bracket and to have a fixed identity”
This summer will provide no rest bite for the duo who have a fistful of festival slots to keep them busy. The next one being Brighton’s The Great Escape Festival (18/05).
New music pick: Susso