“I was always surrounded by dance music as my dad’s a big fan of it and has always had a home office that is half work, half DJ booth,” he says. “So for as long as I can remember, there was always loud music in the house, and particularly as I reached around 13 years old, there was a lot more electronic music being played – prime 2010 ‘EDM’ era so deadmau5, Skrillex, Kaskade, Feed Me, etc. From there, I picked up an interest in DJing, with my 14th birthday present being a Numark Omni Control mixer, wired up to some old hi-fi speakers that were actually older than me. I found myself DJing for hours in my bedroom pretty much every night, then began to be intrigued by how exactly electronic music was made. It wasn’t taught in music classes at school, so I resorted to trawling through YouTube videos before installing a totally-legit, absolutely paid-for copy of Reason 5. From there, I just spent as much time as I had learning and playing around – Zennheiser loop packs made me feel like a pro after a few weeks. As time went on, the dream of signing stuff to labels developed, with mau5trap being my goal – at the time, I didn’t really think of it as a genuine career option because I was just enjoying it so much. After a few releases with my dream label, I then shifted my sound and honed in on more of a ‘signature’ style that I loved working with, rather than just trying to recreate what other artists had seen success with. I think the actual moment of sitting there and thinking, ‘this is getting serious now’ hit when my first stuff on This Never Happened blew up. Seeing radio support from across the world, stream numbers I couldn’t even comprehend, and artists and labels that I idolised complimenting me on my work really cemented that seriousness into my head.”
OCULA says that his sound as evolved naturally over time.
“I think if you listen back to my first stuff with Anjunadeep and This Never Happened, there’s a clear difference when listening to more recent stuff like my album, Crossroad, or my latest EP with Monstercat, On The Run,” he says. “Overall though, I still believe there’s similarities between my music from 4 or 5 years ago to today – I love writing uplifting, euphoric and happy music, so I think you’ll find that as a constant throughout my catalog, aside from the occasional slightly moodier track like “Renaissance.” I’m a big believer in putting emotion into music, and the songs that have always inspired me over the years are typically very powerful and inspiring, so I think I’ve adopted that trait when producing.”
The artist thinks that the electronic music scene is in a great place right now.
“The pandemic obviously had an unholy impact on DJs and producers, but I think we’re now at the stage where we’re hearing and experiencing what artists worked on during that downtime – whether that’s the incredible albums that have came out in the last 12 to 18 months, or seeing artists that were on the brink of starting their touring career before Covid hit, finally get to share their live show visions,” he says. “It might sound odd but I believe the pandemic was almost a blessing in disguise for a lot of melodic house producers; myself included. A lot of people that wouldn’t typically listen to melodic house – or any house music for that matter – were searching for ways to calm their anxieties and relax. People were limited to walking or running in open areas like forests, national parks or hiking trails, and I think melodic house music fits those scenarios perfectly, while helping some calm their nerves or provide an escape. From that, I think a huge spike in attention on melodic house producers really helped propel a lot of producers and DJs careers to different levels; and I can definitely attest to that.”
His latest release is the “Renaissance” single.
“Both ‘Renaissance’ and On The Run were produced with a similar theme in mind – I wanted to write something for those moments in a set where the energy is high but it’s time for some cool, atmospheric, euphoric tune with a huge second drop,” he says. “’Renaissance’ in particular was also a test for me to write something moodier, as I started to doubt myself a little that I couldn’t write that kind of song, so that taught me a lot about my abilities. Working with Luke Coulson on ‘Renaissance’ really elevated that moodier vibe – just from the first demo he sent over to me, I knew we were on the same page on where to take this. As for On The Run, I was ecstatic when I heard Julia Church was down to work together on it. Her voice blew me away when I first heard her on Lane 8’s ‘Oh, Miles,’ so I knew this would be the perfect collaboration for this tune. I was always a little worried about what post-album creativity and direction would be like, but I think the On The Run EP explores different moods and styles for me without sounding a million miles away from my core sound.”
Looking ahead, OCULA has plenty planned for the rest of the year.
“The biggest thing in the diary for the remainder of 2022 is my first tour,” he says. “I was unfortunately one of those artists on the cusp of starting my touring career when Covid hit, but it feels so incredible now to finally be heading out on the road this November – I’ll be performing in Denver, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Minneapolis, with a few more dates to be announced. As for releases, I’ve got a couple things still left to come before the year ends, with some new music already lined up for early 2023 too – I’ll definitely be giving the new stuff a spin at my live shows.”
OCULA is a Renaissance Man: OCULA’s “Renaissance” single and On the Run EP are out now.
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