Famously tall and classically trained, this well-established and fast-rising bass music producer/DJ has seen releases on well-respected labels such as Crucial and White Peach in the last few years alone… You guessed it. This week’s interview is with none other than dubstep’s friendly giant; Opus.
SSC: Hi, Bill! In your own words, tell us who you are and what you do?
O: First of all, big up for hitting me up for an interview! I’m 23, currently live in London and I’ve been producing electronic music for about 5 years.
SSC: So, how was the journey? What started it all off and how did that lead you to where you are today?
O: My musical life goes back as far as I can remember, starting with playing the guitar from about age 7, through to a very formal classical viola education from high school to degree level.
I try and make whatever I feel like, but dubstep makes up the majority of my output so far so I guess that’s my primary identity in the scene.
I started producing in my first year of uni (2014) because I made friends with a couple of guys on the electronic music course – about 2 years later I made ‘Mindapple’, which is the first track that I deemed release worthy and I still love it now. In 2017, White Peach Records signed my first release which kicked things off properly for me. Since then it’s been a cool journey and it’s shaped the course of my life for sure.
SSC: Who are the main influences for you, musically?
O: To be honest, I don’t think my influences come from individual artists but from my time at uni, sitting in classical rehearsals and taking it all in, thinking about how I was going to try and put these beautiful harmonies on a hard beat and whatnot. In terms of dubstep alone, Kaiju were my biggest influence in the early days. I used to try and copy their drums in almost every track for a while.
SSC: What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far, and why?
O: The White Peach boat party at Outlook Festival is my clear career highlight. Even though throughout the course of the festival, it wasn’t the biggest crowd I played to, but the vibes were amazing. Being with a load of my mates playing our own beats in the sun on a boat in the Adriatic to a packed crowd really was something special and I’ve never felt so fulfilled from a musical performance. Release-wise, I guess my ‘Sharpie EP‘ with Crucial Recordings is the one that kicked off the most. That’s when I started getting played by bigger names in the scene and people started to notice my music.
SSC: Any moments you’d rather forget?
O: I don’t think I want to forget much at all, but one of the more embarrassing moments was earlier this year in Poland. Taiko & I got booked to play Dungeon Beats in Poznan and the bar was completely free for us. I’m really happy with how I played my set but the beer clouded my wheel up judgement somewhat during Taiko‘s. It only happened once, and wheels were in abundance from everyone the whole night anyway, but I seriously misjudged one and literally spent the next 60 seconds crouched down behind the decks with my hands in my face out of pure embarrassment. Of course, we’re fine about it and it was a really, really sick night anyway so it’s water under the bridge!
SSC: For all the producers reading, got any tips or tricks you think are particularly useful?
O: Hmm. I’d say the most important production techniques are sidechaining and parallel compression. Sidechaining may seem like an obvious one because it is essential, but I’m a strong believer that producers generally don’t pump their mixdowns hard enough. I sidechain literally everything to my kick and snare, unless it’s a really subtle vocal sitting in the background or something. I know it’s my style and I duck my shit more severely than most out of taste, but I recommend having a go at using it sometimes as an effect, rather than a mixing technique. Parallel compression isn’t an essential technique for many producers but it’s central to my sound and many others’. Evenly processing everything via busses creates a smooth sound and actually saves lots of tweaking individual channels to make each element sound like it fits with each other.
SSC: Anyone we should be keeping an eye on right now? Any particular artists/ DJs standing out to you?
O: The scene is healthy right now. Individually: Cimm is making some really well-crafted music, Darkimh is constantly churning out the darkness, HOST features in every set (whether it be jungle, dubstep, anything in-between), Sleeper is continuing to ride the crest of the wave with constant forward-thinking beats and a very distinctive style, Zha has a style of his own, etc etc. I’m sure I’ll kick myself for not including some very deserving people in this but these guys are on my mind right now.
SSC: Other than sound system music, are there any other genres or artists you are particularly fond of?
O: One artist that I constantly come back to is Djrum. I don’t think there’s any other artist I know about that tells such an effortless story with his music. I’m actually really into UK hip hop at the moment – I’m loving Cult of the Damned, Jam Baxter, Ed Scissor, Lee Scott, etc. I love classical music too, which is unsurprising seeing as I was brought up on it. Specifically, I’m really into french chamber music at the moment.
SSC: What’s on the horizon for Opus? Anything exciting coming up?
O: You know what, I’m actually really excited about the future right now. I literally just received masters for my next vinyl release last week which I’m really happy with. On the subject of hip hop, I’ve actually got some really exciting projects coming into fruition. A single on a prominent label is in the works and I finally feel like I’ve got my foot in the door with that scene, after years of sending beats to little response. So yeah, It’s all quite exciting at the moment and my inspiration is being renewed by crossing scenes and focusing on a new style.
SSC: And finally, if you could give one piece of advice for those wishing to follow in your path, what would it be?
O: I’d say the most important thing is to resist the temptation to try and sound like your favourite artists. Obviously, being influenced is fine but there’s a difference between using certain aesthetics and being a complete carbon copy.