Artist Feature 019: okpk
Dec. 6. 2016
This week we catch up with Victoria BC producer and sound designer: Dan Godlovitch aka okpk. Dan’s long list of music projects include: Artistic director for the “Pretty Good Not Bad” festival, founding member of Victoria-based “Urban Therapy” events group, and more recently a guest video series on Elysia’s analog “500 series” hardware line. Top it off with experience in both hardware and software instrument design and with writing compositions for theatre pieces, you can see why we are excited to host this multi-talent on Thursday December 8th in Vancouver, BC. So get to know the man behind the bleeps and basslines as we prepare for the 4th instalment of our live pa series Ω “ohm” featuring okpk!
Hey Dan, what’s up?
Oh hey ADSR. I’m just listening to the rain & drinking tea.
You recently did a series of tutorial videos for the audio hardware company Elysia. Tell us a bit about how that all came about?
I was at NAMM (big tradeshow in Cali) last January, and went by their booth. I was trying some of my tunes through their gear, they liked what they heard & invited me to do some demos for them. The idea was to make some videos that show off how you can use their stuff as a creative tool, as well as a way to get a good mix.
How much time do you dedicate to sound design compared to writing songs? Do you have separate sessions usually?
I don’t really see the two things as different. I know a lot of producers really like to separate the two, but I can’t work that way. It’s faster for me to get the sound in my head by building it from scratch than to hunt through a huge preset folder to find a good starting point. Also, every time I try just doing sound design I wind up making crazy sounds that are very cool but completely unusable in a song.
Whats your basic process like for writing a song?
I’m all about finding little melodic or rhythmic or textural ideas and growing a track out of that. Once I have a melody or a drum riff or a particular texture, writing a track is about seeing how I can play with that idea, warping it, stretching it, adding other parts that play off it. As I build the track and the shape becomes clear I’ll go back and tweak ideas or sounds to fit the emerging form. I like working with sounds that are very expressive and emotive, but are also kind of unfamiliar, and I like using a range of colours in my work, from acoustic through analogue through digital.
How is the current state of electronic music in Victoria? Talk to us a bit about your involvement with Urban Therapy and Pretty Good Not Bad festival.
We have a very rich & diverse scene here, but as with many things in Victoria, there’s a lot of stuff that is happening almost in secret. I’ve been living here 10 years and I’m still discovering people who have been quietly practicing & perfecting their art in this city for years.
I’m VP and Artistic Director for the Pretty Good Not Bad festival & non-profit, our mandate is to provide a platform that connects diverse creative communities through collaboration, with an acute focus on new music and media. We had a fantastic launch last year, with an incredibly positive response from the community, and we’re excited to be going into our 2nd year.
I’m also one of the founders and core members of Urban Therapy, which is 2 years old in Jan. Born out of the Sub:Div crew, we book underground bass music, and work in alternative venues that we transform for the parties we throw. We want to give people a unique experience when they come to our shows. I think we’re basically rave utopians, but with a UK bass tilt :)
Island producers you are digging at the moment that we might not know about in Vancouver?
Shout-outs to Olav, who makes beautiful wistful IDM when he’s not doing Laggards with me, Max Renn, who has been doing that dirty techno vibe ala Powell for a minute now, all the lo-fi hi-hop heads like Bob Le Head, Lo:Sun & La Ro$a & on the more experimental vibe, Lance Olsen & Jamie Drouin have been making incredible minimal electro-acoustic music for a while now.
Talk to us a bit about your upcoming release “pleasure seekers” and how it will differ from you previous output “Hollow” on Michael Red’s Low Indigo imprint.
Pleasure Seekers is coming out next year with R/N, and it’s an evolution of the ideas in Hollow. Style-wise, it has that dark rnb sensuality, but there’s a bit of an IDM influence. I started it when I was working on Laggards’ ‘Knee Deep In Paradise’ record and adopting a more modern, dense production style. Most of Hollow could be played by a 4 piece band with no sequencing, it’s really stripped back, and Pleasure Seekers is much more lush & layered.
One of the most exciting things for me about Pleasure Seekers is that choreographer Dyana Sonik-Henderson wrote a piece [Striga Form] for her Broken Rhythms dance troupe to it, and we’re excited to share that with a wider audience after premiering the performance at PGNB this summer.
Take us through the free track you have for us “slow like the ocean”
This is a track where I wanted to go all out on a cinematic, majestic vibe. I guess I think a lot about filmic elements when I write - 'what is this the soundtrack to?’, and SLTO is definitely for some establishing shot over a majestic vista, or some leviathan surfacing from the ocean in a wildlife doc. Maybe you could match it up to some slowed down skateboarding fails footage and that would be good too. I’m super happy with the kicks in this track.