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INTERVIEW: Opiuo Talks Red Rocks Syzygy Orchestra, Collabs With Lettuce & DeVotchKa Members

first_imgOn April 21st, the progressive New Zealand electronic producer Opiuo (also known as Oscar Davey-Wraight) headed to the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre for a sold-out, co-headlining show with Colorado’s own SunSquabi. After 2017’s performance with the Opiuo Live Band, the boundary-pushing producer was ready to take it up a notch, with the show serving of the debut of his Syzygy Orchestra, which draws its name from Opiuo’s most recent EP, Syzygy 01.With this monumental performance behind him, Live For Live Music got the chance to talk to Opiuo about the performance, the work that went in ahead of time to make it all happen, plans for the future, collaborations with members of Lettuce, and more. You can check out the interview below, and head to Opiuo’s website for more information and future tour dates.Ming Lee Newcomb: Recently, you headlined the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre. For your show, you brought together a 20-piece orchestra, dubbed the Syzygy Orchestra, and performed with them. Can you talk a little bit about what inspired this wild collaboration?Opiuo: I’ve been a massive fan of orchestras my whole life. It’s a realm of musical creation I had no idea about, so I thought why not take on the challenge, especially somewhere as special as Red Rocks. The mix of century-old organicness with brand-new electronic power, I was so intrigued.MLN: Once you realized that you wanted to move forward with the collaboration, you handpicked an orchestra to work with specifically for the show. What was that process like of choosing the Syzygy Orchestra?Opiuo: I worked alongside the concertmaster, Tom Hagerman, and chose the most impactful instruments for a show like this. Ones that work together at a size of twenty people, allowing us to replicate and reinvent electronic sound in a beautifully organic way. It was super fun. It was like creating my own movie soundtrack. The instruments just jumped from the pages!MLN: You worked with one of the members of DeVotchKa to score the show. How did that process work, and how did you decide which songs you’d perform at Red Rocks? Were there any songs you knew you wanted to do from the get-go, or any songs you wanted to do but ultimately didn’t translate well?Opiuo: I was introduced to Tom [Hagerman] via my manager. We spoke on the phone, then I flew to Denver to sit and meet in person. It’s very important for projects like this to work with people I connect with on a personal and musical level—and Tom was exactly that. We gelled right away. I had already been working on the show for some time, so I had arranged the music into a coherent set.I definitely spent weeks working out which songs to play, and even asked my fans online, without giving too much away. I knew it’s super important to get it right. And yeah, some songs I would have loved to play, but they did not translate that well. Then, me and Tom spent months sending the files and music back and forth until we were both happy with the final product. It was such an enjoyable and interesting experience.MLN: What was the transition like, shifting from the role of a lone DJ on stage to the conductor of twenty or so people?Opiuo: The transition was surreal. It kind of felt like it was something I had done before. It felt natural, even though the show flew by, and I didn’t really remember many specifics. I was so focused on doing the role I had to and doing it well. It was super refreshing to be up there, performing in a completely different manner. I loved it.Opiuo with the Syzygy Orchestra – Red Rocks Amphitheatre[Video: OPIUO]MLN: Now that the show has passed, what were your favorite moments from your Red Rocks performance?Opiuo: When we finished the 4th Movement, the crowd was nearly completely silent. They seemed to all be emerged deep in the sound and in the moment. Then seconds later they erupted into screams and cheers. It’s moments like those that you know everyone is paying attention and along for the ride, right there with you. It felt very special.MLN: Ahead of the Red Rocks show, you released a brand-new EP called Syzygy 01. Given that you’ve always been such a boundary-pushing producer, how do you think your sound has evolved with this latest album?Opiuo: I went on some journeys to places like New Orleans and recorded real horn sections. I’d often been a sampling guy, but going there and experiencing a place like that had a huge impact on the music. It was so much fun to watch songs come to life before my eyes.MLN: On this new EP, you also worked with members of Lettuce. Can you talk about those collaborations, and what it was like working them?Opiuo: Benny Bloom from Lettuce, Russ Liquid, and TJ Norris are absolute pros! They smashed the role of horn-section extraordinaires. We recorded five songs in four hours. I was so lucky and fortunate to have them lace my music with style and grace. Something I want to do more of in the future.MLN: Given the name of your new EP, can we expect a Syzygy 02 coming out soon? Or can you share anything about new music you might be working on?Opiuo: You might be onto something here… That’s all I will say right now!MLN: Having just finished up an extensive North American tour and an incredibly busy start to 2018, what are your plans for the rest of the year. Any shows or festival sets that you’re really looking forward to?Opiuo: I’m excited to spend the middle part for the year bouncing around the globe making people dance to my funkadelic adventures. Lots of new music, and a special project which I shall announce in due time. Plus, I just try to be the best human I possibly can every day, encourage everyone to follow their dreams, to believe in themselves, support their friends, and to spread positive vibes far and wide!For more information on Opiou’s upcoming projects and performances, head to his website.last_img read more