This is the tale of the ‘Synthesizer’ kid, who dreamed that one he would spread his love of electronic dance music to the far corners of the earth. The kid worked hard, hidden away in his studio mastering his craft. Today we know of him as Opolopo, the Producer & Remixer Extraordinaire and Turntable Dynamo.
With a name that means ‘Plenty’, in Yoruba, Opolopo has much to smile about. He has a string of dance floor smashes under his belt including his track featuring Shea Soul – Be Enough, Choklate – The Tea, the now infamous remix for Gregory Porter 1960 what? and recent a track featuring 1990s soul singer Lisa Stanfield for her Picket Fence, not to mention the Sacha Williamson heavy weight slammer ‘Blame’.
The time has come for Opolopo to stand and be counted as one the most prolific producers around.
The 4 X 4 not only a classic house beat – it forms the foundation of the interview 8 questions only.
1. Tell me one thing about yourself that most people do not know?
I can beatbox with my teeth.
2. Do you remember the first tracks you heard that turned you on to a life of making music?
I’ve always been into “making music” for as long as I can remember. I have no formal training but as a kid I was always messing around on the piano, coming up with simple riffs and melodies. The big thing for me though, that really sucked me in, was the discovery of electronic music. One of my earliest musical memories is hearing the synth-pop tune Popcorn on the radio when I was 3 or 4. The track featured the Moog synthesizer and I remember being fascinated by how it sounded and how it was different from anything else on the radio. But the biggest moment was probably hearing Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene during a relaxation exercise in gym class in the late seventies. It sounded so alien and mystical. It was all synthesizers and drum machines. Synthesizer was kind of a dirty word back then -“you don’t have to know how to play, just how to press a button”. But I didn’t care. I loved the sound. So I went and bought Jarre’s The Concerts in China album, and it was listening to that album that made me go -“One day I’ll have the synths and machines and I’ll be making electronic music.”
3. I first became aware of your music, after hearing your now infamous remix of Gregory Porter’s 1960 what. How did you keep your feet on the ground after creating such a dance floor anthem?
I’ve told the story many times but it was just a simple edit/tweak I did for myself so I could play it in a clubby context. Then Gregory’s label heard of it and the rest is history. I only added the minimal elements I felt it needed for the dancefloor: a synth bassline, kick, hats and a bit of percussion. The success of the “remix” lies in the power of the original. All I did was to present the track to a new audience.
4. Peter you had the unique opportunity to go on tour with your keyboardist father, what did you learn about music that you may not have learned otherwise?
Yeah, I was just a kid tagging along every now and then with my dad, who played keys in a cover band. We went playing on a cruise ship or supporting some big show artists at hotels. Don’t think I learned so much about music itself. It was more of getting a, not always so glamorous, glimpse of musicians and artists lives in the spot light as well as backstage. I loved the experience but it didn’t really make me want to become a musician. I was more interested in production and the music making process than being on stage.
5. The ‘Opolopo production sound is distinctive, what do you think makes your sound and style so different that other producers?
It’s just about musical and sonic taste I think. I have certain things that I like and I kind of now how to get there. The rest is just tools to get the job done.
My musical journey growing up, as a listener and fan of music, goes from electronic through fusion and jazz, through funk, soul and boogie. I think all those elements are present in one way or another in my productions. I guess that gives me a certain sound.
6. If you had the choice between DJing in a world class music arena full of music lovers or writing and producing a double platinum selling record, which would you chose and why?
Haha, well there’s not much money in selling records anymore so financially I should go for the full music arena. But then again, my arena style fist pumping is a bit rusty so I’d still go for the platinum record.
But seriously, as much as I love DJ:ing, my first and biggest love will always be producing and making music. There’s something about locking yourself up in a studio, creating and controlling your own musical universe, that’s hard to beat.
7. You are the master of the remix. The last album you did was ‘Voltage Controlled Feelings’, released on Tokyo Dawn records back in 2010. Do you have plans to produce another album and can you tell me more about your future plans?
I co-wrote and produced vocalist Amalia’s debut album, Art Slave, for TDR in 2011. So there kind of was one more after VCF. 😉
But I’m releasing a spanking new full length album for Z Records later this year. A mix of boogie, funk and house. It’s been in the making for quite some time but I’m very excited to finally unleash it upon the world.
Other than that there’s a bunch of new remixes coming up.
8. If you have a mission in life what is it? How will you know once you’ve achieved it?
When it comes to music my only mission is to never compromise with the quality of my work. Sure, in retrospect some things might not have worked so well or turned out differently than I thought while making it. But I always try and put in the same amount of work and dedication no matter what the project is. I’ve always thought that if you set your bar high enough all the time, people will eventually catch on. I’ve always wanted to let the music speak for itself. If you keep doing that and have the stamina and are stubborn and foolish enough – you might succeed.
So being able to make a living doing music is in a sense a result of achieving my mission.
Thank you Opolopo for sharing your passions and ambitions with us. For more from Opolopo please follow the links below: