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Getting To Know: OTNES

Join us as OTNES unravels the creative tapestry of their latest album, signaling a departure from the previous Emily Blue project. The highlighted track delves into the artist's exploration of the unknown, envisioning a deep well filled with old memories. The live-recorded outro with the band seamlessly blends garage rock energy with earlier electronic textures, providing a snapshot of the album's multifaceted sonic journey.

In a poignant reflection on loss during the COVID era, OTNES shares the inspiration behind "SPIN." The track encapsulates memories of vibrant nights dancing in Chicago bars with a close friend and producer, Max. This powerful ode explores personal evolution in the face of profound loss, accompanied by musical influences drawn from The Japanese House's vocal production, creating a dreamy and healing ambiance.

In "LIGHT AS A FEATHER," OTNES skillfully combines vocoder textures with live guitar tracking, weaving together a narrative of breakups, loss, and resilience. Transitioning to "REDWOOD DUST," the artist intricately discusses the love song's production journey, drawing inspiration from Michael Jackson's groove while infusing it with rootsy elements. The personal touch of connecting the track to a partner's woodworking endeavors adds a unique layer, reflecting the depth of OTNES's creative process and storytelling. We caught up with OTNES, here's how it went down:

Your track "BLU3" serves as an introduction to the album, expressing a departure from your former project, Emily Blue. Can you share more about the inspiration behind this song and how it sets the tone for the entire album?

I wrote this song while I was on a long drive by myself– I remember the feeling, reflecting on the many changes in my life (I had just moved to Nashville, gotten out of a relationship, etc). The line ‘I’m ready to dive in, to a great big pool of water’ just kept popping up in my mind, and most of the first half of that song was written in that car ride.

I knew this had to be the intro to the album based on the themes alone– this record was going to be my first record under the name OTNES (which is my real last name), and I wanted to bravely and boldly step into this journey of producing my own record. I wanted to be true to myself.

It ended up being such a blast, incorporating a lot of collaboration from my live band members, especially our drummer Jody Lee Oliver who added a lot of glitch production elements. We all love Bon Iver, Caroline Polachek, and I think those influences came through.

"SPIN" delves into the grief of losing your producer and close friend, Max, during COVID. Can you discuss the process of reflecting on this experience through your music and how it has shaped your artistic journey?

Max and I would always go out to fun bars in Chicago, just to hang out with friends and enjoy the community. He would dance with us all and was the life of the party. I wanted to capture that energy and that nostalgia in this track, while also reflecting on my journey with grief, sobriety, and my growth as an individual. So much has changed in my life since COVID and since his passing. He changed my life and influenced everything about my work, and made me feel like I really have what it takes to make amazing music.

In crafting "SUE ME," you drew inspiration from Dido and Alanis Morisette, aiming for a 90s/early 2000s vibe. How did these childhood favorites influence the production, and what specific elements did you incorporate to achieve that nostalgic sound?

I was obsessed with both Dido and Alanis growing up– I remember taking a long train ride from Chicago to New Orleans and listening to the Dido album on a cassette player with headphones (or was it a walkman? Who knows). The point is, those sounds are buried deep in my subconscious and I’ve always wanted to bring that energy to the forefront in my music. To me, the soft vocals and lush production style of Dido meets so well with Alanis’s gritty guitar tones. SUE ME has a lot of attitude and tenderness, so I tried to blend the two.

As the title track, "SHOW THEM WHAT’S INSIDE!" conveys a message about opening up to others and healing one's inner child. Can you elaborate on the emotions and themes embedded in this song, and why you chose it as the title track?

SHOW THEM WHAT’S INSIDE! is the message I’d like everyone to take from my work. Much of my early 20’s was spent trying to appeal to others, and in my recent years I’ve looked inward for that sense of accomplishment. I feel like because I’ve spent time getting to know myself, my art has improved so greatly.

The song was recorded live with my band members and captures the energy of some of Nashville’s best players – Nick Soria, Evan Opitz, Jody Lee Oliver, Peter Vance. We made this in one day at Farmland Studios which was a total blast.

"INTERLUDE" features recorded nature sounds, including loons by the lake. How did these elements contribute to the album's overall narrative, and can you share the significance of capturing memories in sound, particularly during your summer tour?

Loons are so beautiful to me– they find a partner and mate for life, and live at the lake together. While on tour I heard them calling to each other with this haunting, romantic bird call. I found out later that my guitarist recorded the sounds on his phone, so together we produced this interlude intended to create a moment of calm in the album. I really love how it turned out and could meditate to that track for hours.


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