5 minutes with…. Octave One!

Octave One are duo comprising of siblings Lenny Burden and Lawrence Burden, part of the 2nd Generation of Detroit Techno artists. In 1989, Octave One debuted on Derrick May’s Transmat record label with the single “I Believe.” In 1990 , with their brother Lynell, they formed the record label 430 West Records to release the vinyl record “The Octivation EP.” Mainly known for their techno recordings, the Burden brothers have also produced many house records and other electronic genres using other pseudonyms, in particular Random Noise Generation, Metro D (with Terrell Langston) and Never One Sunday. Octave One have also remixed recordings for Massive Attack, Joey Negro, DJ Rolando, Steve Bug, John Thomas, The Trammps, Rhythm is Rhythm, and Inner City.

Hi, how are you? What Are you up to today?

Just enjoying some down time for a few weeks, it’s greatly needed cause we had such an intense but fun tour schedule this year.

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?

Well our description of our music would be…soulful, funky, techno, smothered in early the pulse of early house.

How do you feel about being classed as one of the true progenitors of the Detroit Sound?

Actually, we feel quite honoured that people view us in this way now, because in the beginning our peers never saw our style as being Techno. They liked our style but it very different from there’s and different from a lot of other artist that they knew. We always used to quote Shake’s (Anthony Shakir) words on our style, “you can dance to it or make love to it”! That always had us dying laughing!!!

How did you guys begin to create music?

Wow, that’s a loaded question because we don’t really have a set way that we being our creative process. It’s five of us that are involved in the creative process, for those who might not be familiar with us all…it’s Lawrence, Lenny, Lynell, Lance and Lorne Burden who are all involved in creating. It might start with one brother trying something at home or in the studio and a few of us join in, all of us in the studio goofing off with sounds then producing with it, who know how it all starts at times:)

What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?

We love so much music and we’re all over the map with the genre’s that we like that we couldn’t even begin to pick just five.

In the 90’s you were quite absent from the performance scene, what made you ‘step out’ and evolve into the Live performances?

Actually, we had made a tour for one of our artist and we literally emptied out our bank account putting the tour together. We PR, Booking agents and promoters paid to the hilt then the band announced to use a few weeks before the tour was to start that they weren’t gonna do it. So we had to either jump up and find a group from our sister Direct Beat label or close the doors to our studio, label and even homes. So out of necessity we were born into performing live!

Your live shows consist of analogue hardware. Have you been tempted to switch to Laptops & software?

Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t know that we actually tried one show early in our performing career using laptops. The feeling and mood wasn’t happening for us and it didn’t translate very well to the audience either…it goes without saying that if we didn’t feel it or fans can’t either..

What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?

The next one, because it’ll represent a special moment it time that hopefully we’ll all enjoy the journey on!

What’s the worst gig you’ve ever done and why

Don’t know if we’d consider it our worst but we played this gig in Spain and I don’t remember the name of the show but the sound techs didn’t pay attention to our rider to power our equipment separately from any other gear (lighting or otherwise). And when we started our set it blew the power not once, not twice, but after three times we were done and the dj that played before us picked up the set. The first and last time that we couldn’t do what we yearn to do for our fans.

Your label, 430 West, has come a long way since its formation, how do you feel the industry has changed since then? How has this affected the musical output and the business side of the label?

How hasn’t the business changed since we started the label in the late 80’s?! Or should we say what industry:) Music has become very disposable and that’s hard for us to handling because we love music soooo much! Now the business has turned into branding, branding and more branding! The masses don’t really seem to be concerned much with quality or the vibe as years earlier but if you brand it “they will come”.

Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects, DJ mixes or collaborations in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

We’re right smack in the middle of creating our latest album project, yet to be titled for release early next year. We’re very excited about it and can’t wait to get it completed!

If you weren’t a musician what would you be?

Lenny – Probably something technical

Lawrence – Ah dunno!

Written by Alex Lewis