Todays Miami Encode artist interview see’s us speak to Ori Kawa ahead of his latest release, lets find out more.
Where do we find you today?
At my home studio in the beautiful desert city of Phoenix, AZ, where we are enjoying a record-breaking brain frying heat wave right now. It’s hot!
Can you describe a moment or experience that initially sparked your passion for music and how it continues to inspire you today?
Absolutely! I remember when a friend of my mom’s gifted me her record collection. Lots of good funk and pop from the 70’s.
I was listening to an album by The Crusaders, a jazz fusion band. During a keyboard solo, I heard a riff that had been used as a loop in a song I knew well from a Derrick Carter mix cd. It was unmistakable. It was such a lightbulb moment. I had listened to that mix and that song so many times, that to hear where the loop came from…it was like the clouds parted and a ray of sun shined onto the turntable for those 3 magical seconds.
As if it wasn’t perfect enough, the keyboard player’s name is Joe Sample. I was perplexed that a fleeting thought during an improvised solo could have so much in it that it could carry an entire song. I had to try to learn how to play keys and how to sample.
Can you tell us a bit about your new record “Days Go By” and how it came together?
Always wanted to remake the song, it was such a classic. With the band, we’ve done all originals up until this year. Acquiring the necessary licenses for cover songs is so much easier these days, so I figured it was time to drop some. I shot the idea over to our drummer, Myron. He put down some killer tracks, and everything kind of just rode the wave from there.
With a cover song, we like to flip it somehow. Our goal is to maintain the vibe of the original for the fans of that song but give them a fresh experience. Sometimes I can be one of those stubborn purists that doesn’t think the original can be topped, so I figure, why do the same thing over again? It will never be better. We hope this rendition of Days Go By takes the heads back to fond memories.
With all this in mind, we brought in a female vocalist instead of a male vocalist like the original. Mishell Ivon makes some really funky revivalist low-rider tunes that bring me back to that 80’s sound and feel. She gave a perfect performance for Days Go By, just a touch of melancholy reminiscence combined with soulful power.
How do you maintain a balance between staying true to your artistic vision and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the music industry?
If you say that’s what I do, thank you, I appreciate it haha! I’m starting to think that there is so much content constantly now, that the adaptation comes more from trying to understand how to find your audience. There is so much talent and so much digestion of content, that you might as well just stick firmly to your artistic vision, and then try and find the audience for it. Because the audience is out there somewhere. There are also so many more resources for independent artists now, and being independent gives the most artistic freedom.
To be completely honest, I don’t have a big following, so I guess I feel I can sing whatever I want and explore any styles I’m feeling because it’s not like I would be “canceled”. I cannot speak on the restrictions that kind of pressure brings because I am not there.
The most balancing piece to my formula, surprisingly, has been having a day job. I used to want nothing more than to do music full time. I would still welcome the opportunity, but “the dream” is less shortsighted now. I understand that going full-time would still require a daily grind and some not so glamourous tasks. But for now, there is much knowledge I can pick up at my place of employment that can be applied to finding my audience.
Can you discuss the impact of technology on your music, and how you see emerging tools and platforms shaping the future of electronic music?
Yes, I heavily rely on it! Of course the DAWs, the plug-ins, the usual social media platforms. But with my recent music production, the resource I find myself continually turning to is SoundBetter. It’s like Fiverr but specifically for audio professionals. The people I have had the privilege of working with…I would not have even thought I could have these opportunities 5 years ago. I see this type of platform continuing to make collaboration connections across the globe.
How do you stay motivated and inspired during periods of creative block, and what strategies do you employ to overcome them?
There is a great book called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, I highly recommend it. You can pick it up at any point, it’s well organized and easy to read, and it offers a swift kick in the pants when you need it. To align with that book, I’ll keep this answer concise!
What role does improvisation play in your creative process, and can you share a memorable instance when it led to an unexpected breakthrough?
I think it’s very important. You gotta have noodling around time. In the role of producer, improvisation is an important part of my recording process. First, I try to get my players to deliver what I’m looking for. Once I think they nailed it, I like to have them do one more take, a “crazy” one. It’s just like when you’re taking a group photo and everyone does one more with a silly face. Same concept. Not only is it a lot of fun for the musicians, but I often end up using the material. Sometimes they are so focused on trying to speak their instrument in my voice, but what they have to say is better.
There is an instance of this on Days Go By. Near the middle of the song, when the bass line gets super slappy and funked out, that was when I cut to the crazy take.
What advice would you give to aspiring electronic music artists looking to develop their own unique sound and style?
It takes time, experimentation, and input. By input, I mean that what you listen to of course will influence your style. If your input is narrow, I don’t think there will be much chance of your own sound being unique. You can pick apart the technicality of all your favorite genre’s songs, but if you do not branch out to bring in other experiences, you will be a carbon copy.
Remember, everyone’s a critic. So if the goal is to develop your unique sound, there will be plenty of people trying to “help” you do that. Be sure to balance and know who you are listening to and who you should ignore!
Life experience is important. You, as a person, are a filter for the input. Even if you listen to a whole bunch of different music, how you process it all and apply it is what will make your style one in a billion. That is why it takes time, so don’t stress it. As you go through life, the filter that is you will develop naturally into its own thing.
What’s next for you?
With the band, the next releases I have planned are going back to our rock roots. We’ve got a new look for our artwork with Days Go By that I am looking forward to continuing with the artist. I am also starting a new brand that will be a tech house sound, with me on vocals.
Thank you very much Miami Encode and D’VOX for giving me the chance to speak about our music. Our best to you and your readers and listeners. Cheers!
Written by: Alejandro Serrano