Interview: Five minutes with obylx

Some times, an artist just needs to embrace the theatrics. Fortunately for us, obylx manages to do so in an elegant way with his newly released, ‘Flicker’ shared on 1 December via Guise Records. Expect neo-classical meeting future bass as you’re transported into the world of cinematics with marching drums and chiming electronics.

obylx is the love child of Oliver Johnson who is currently on a journey of self-discovery. As with any journey of self-discovery, you can only expect the unexpected. In an attempt to process everything life churned up into his path, obylx created a mind forest in which he could retreat to meditate. 

For a gentle moment, the Bristol-based producer has let us into this mind forest, allowing us to see some of the man behind the extraordinary creativity.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

It can be either really… sometimes I hear or make a noise that leads to inspiration, other times it can be the subject! Most ideas usually start from sitting down at the piano.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

None so far, other than Leo Wood. She is a fantastic singer and writer and it really was great working with her. She sent me the acapella to ‘the hour’ and asked if I could produce it. Then it morphed into the final track.

What’s on your current playlist?

Loads of stuff but today has mostly been about Mortals by Matt Maltese; Callisto by World Champion and Birth of Creation by The Comet Is Coming

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I’ve recently been messing about with a lot more tools that transcribe audio to midi… The imperfections in the detection lead to some interesting results! However, I generally don’t like to repeat too many techniques as that comfort of knowing exactly where you’re going can lead to complacency.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

The first thing that I like to do is get my phone recording, sitting down at the piano and playing for around half an hour. I’ll just play and sing along and see if there are any ideas that want to come out today. If there are, then I’ll usually rush to my computer and start recording it. If there aren’t then I’ll go through some older ideas and see if any of those are inspiring me. Once I get working, then the next thing I know is that it’s dark, I’m starving and I’ve needed the toilet for the past 6 hours.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

I’ve always loved music. My father was a musician so he was always playing the piano at home. I never actually played a great deal until I was about 13 or 14. It wasn’t really a thought of ‘this is what I want to do’ more of ‘this is what I have to do’. That feeling has never changed and it’s felt like I haven’t had a choice in the matter!

Any emerging artists on your radar?


What gets your creative juices flowing?

Sitting at an upright piano, hearing other music and feeling life.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

My actual work desk is probably one of the best things to help me. It’s a “zaor miza x2” and it just allows me to have everything in front of me. I have a Komplete Kontrol s88 so the keyboard tray on the desk can just slide out whenever. I work in logic using mostly plugins and virtual instruments. I’m a big fan of native instruments and arturia alongside UAD, I find their quality means that I can focus more on the writing elements initially.

Any side projects you’re working on?

obylx started off as a side project and it’s now my main project! I’m doing a few bits of production for a few people here and there but mostly focusing on this.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I would say the main thing I have noticed is knowing to trust myself. I used to second guess myself all the time and because of that, I would never finish music. I now feel I am getting better at running with an idea and seeing it through to completion, often the track is about 90% different from what I started with but I wouldn’t have reached that if I hadn’t persisted.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you next year?

Well, the main headline is that I don’t really know. The beauty of this project is that it means that I’m writing all the time. As it stands in Dec 2019, I’ve written 1 of the tracks for 2020 and got at least 11 more to write. I’m excited to see what I will do. The only thing I can guarantee for you next year is that there will be music!

Famous last words?

“The only thing I can guarantee for you next year is that there will be music!”

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