The following is an Independent Spotlight exclusive interview with the compelling new rising artist, Magic Okaino.
I’d like to get right to the meat of this interview first. Your new project is ‘S.M.D,’ which stands for ‘Suk Mii Dik.’ Now, you’ve mentioned that the project could be easily misinterpreted, or the listener could easily miss the point of your work. I’d love for you to explain the project and the message that you’re bringing to the table with it.
First and foremost, it's a display of artistic freedom to create art defying opinion, and for me, the pleasure I get out of making music the way I want to make it - and feel like making it whenever I make it.
You’re a fairly prolific artist. With close to eighteen projects in three years, you’re certainly more active than the rest of the independent community. How do you continue to make things fresh and interesting when you’re putting out so much?
Well, what I've actually put out probably only makes up for a quarter of what I've done recording wise. I stay motivated by trying new approaches towards different styles of music. No project I've done yet is really similar - I mean they are of their own.
How is ‘Suk Mii Dik’ different than your previous work?
It's definitely more blunt and to the point... more raw and uncut than usual - [That] is the only real difference.
You describe the contemporary recording process as ‘kind of lame.’ You don’t have an interest in conforming to whatever will be the ‘next hottest record.’ What kind of music right now doesn’t fall victim to that?
Any music where a artist is actively working and developing their sound. Making what works for them work.
What do you draw inspiration from?
The simple answer is pretty much anything, but I'll answer it like this:
With taking on a bigger workload than I've ever been used to, creative inspiration is kind of like gas to a motor, and from a creative aspect I'm always trying to keep the engine running as much and as long as possible.
Inspiration can strike whenever, but to be inspired is purely a choice - sometimes it can persuasively be put on you, but you still have to choose.
So, I've learned and really just had to be very aware and open to pretty much anything that presents itself. I get a kick out of unique angles and challenging ideas, and any ideas I find that give me a edge.
Everything in life that we experience or come in contact with at any extent can be used as inspiration; it's more of how you look at a take on an idea. For me, off songs alone I could probably sit and write a book off all the contributing factors of what I was inspired by to do it.
I'll give an example of inspiration that plays a role in the way I see I make music. I had a phase where I was into honey... raw honey at that. I'd put it on anything that seemed reasonable and sometimes unreasonable to see if the sweetness of honey could make it better. So one day I looked up the process of how honey was collected. I mean, it's very basic information, even the history of how it goes back to the Egyptians, etc.
There is not really anything special or brand new about it to me. Definitely interesting though, and there was a piece of the information that caught me. It was that beekeepers who farm for honey generally use one specific type of bee, which is the European Honey Bee, and the reason is that for most bees to take their honey, would basically kill them off because you would in essence be stealing their food. But with the European Honey Bee, they over produce honey, so taking their honey doesn't affect them. As crazy as it sounds, it didn't begin how I created so much material, but it did solidify the process for me and was inspiring on a more conceptual level of my process cause' I do definitely push myself to make way more than I need for any particular project.
You’ve discovered your niche in recent years: conceptual projects. Now, a concept album isn’t anything new: the Beatles were doing it fifty years ago. The beauty of the idea, however, is that you can pen something from a different perspective. Are there any concept records that caught your attention and caused you to want to create your own?
Very possibly subconsciously - but no record comes to mind that I can think made me say, 'I wanna do that.' I had made a few projects before I even locked into the idea that was making concept projects. It's more based off the way I write/record and was able to identify and group tracks to be able to form projects to make out of the songs.
Also, is ‘Suk Mii Dik’ a conceptual piece?
What does ‘Suk Mii Dik’ mean? It’s certainly a compelling album title - but also quite an obscure one. (Edit - How the hell did I not immediately not pick this up? Awkward...)
Indeed, it means Suck My Dick. This book is the cover.
You song write and produce your work. Is anyone else involved in the process?
In song creation, all the stuff that happens before a song and while recording a song and finishing a song... unfortunately, no. Every blue moon one of my real good friends, Brian, also known as 3rain on the internet, will throw song ideas my way, but we have both been busy, so very little of that. It's primarily a solo space mission with alien interaction every now and then. On the back end once my projects are complete, there are DJ's I work with for remixes and chopped and screwed versions of the songs and projects.
How has your experience been operating as jack of all trades? Many artists become overwhelmed with every responsibility of production on their shoulders.
The experience has been crazy! But highly rewarding to myself, but at this point it's purely necessity... I've had more than enough previous songwriting, production, and engineering experience separately, just never at the level to efficiently finish songs to the point where I'm always looking to finish and complete projects. I've been allowed to make mistakes and learn. I've been able to learn and appreciate the process of making records and practice making records with purpose. I've been forced to deal with pretty much everything I was uncomfortable with in the recording process from beginning to end.
What’s your endgame? I want to go further in sound design in general. I'm more than fit for the challenge. I also want to also be able to help recording artist put out projects to be able to sustain while helping them grow and work their craft.
Do you have any specific goals for your music?
I do! I want to defy genre. Mix genres by blending new sounds. Being different in a fresh way, and I want to compete with music on a higher level.
Are you a hobbyist or is this something you want to make a career?
What was difficult or particularly rewarding about the process of creating ‘Suk Mii Dik’? You seem to take great care in that process.
The most difficult thing about the S.M.D. project happened before I even knew I was going to make it. I made this song called "Monika Lewenski" - I've had that song at least since 2011. I've made it so many different ways I put more money and effort into that song than any song ever, and maybe ever. For whatever reason I believed and still believe the song will work. It was a different type of record to make that I wanted to do my best.
From 2011 - 2014, I spent working on that song - not everyday or anything, but I made many versions of it and had to force myself to make a final version of it, and I never had a real place for it on a project.
The rewarding part of the S.M.D. project was that it was done long before I finished it - as in putting it together track for track. It was so done that I put together the S.M.D. EP last year by Dec. 2014 because I wasn't ready to put the the regular S.M.D. out yet. Majority of the songs were freestyles I would do usually in the morning and it just got to a point where I had a few of them and they were so bad that I was "inspired" to make more.
Do you perform live? If so, how often and where? If not, do you have plans to?
I do not perform right now but I'm not opposed to it. I'm simply recording right now.
How would your music translate to a live performance?
I'm not sure. definitely would make it work though.
Finally, I always ask the same question to finish out every interview with an indie artists. When we talk with artists like yourself, we become consumed in your work as a creator. The best artists are avid consumer of music as well, though. Learning what kind of music you listen to is certainly an insight into you. If we were to shuffle your iPod or Spotify, what five songs may appear?
Right now you would probably find...
Republica - Ready To Go
Uncle Luscious - Something They Ain't
Saosin- they perched on they stilts pointing daring me to break
Jodeci - My heart Belongs
Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up