The phone picks up after just one ring, and I am greeted with a casual “Hey mate!“. I’m chatting to Otious (pronounced oh-shus), a four-piece powerhouse straight out of Melbourne, who are way too cool to be called ‘a four-piece powerhouse’. Band members Jordan Walker, Alan Jin, Matt Ferron, and Darcy Coombs joined forces in 2014, carving a career that took off within a matter of months. Striking somewhere between electronic, ambient, indie, and dance music, Otious is like the dreamy love child of Chet Faker and James Blake. You could probably create an entirely new genre if you needed to pin them to just one, but even if you did, their versatility shows that each of their tracks is uniquely different to the last, so you probably shouldn’t.
The group met in the uni library, when Darcy rudely declined giving Alan a music production lesson on Ableton (Darcy: “To this day I still maintain that I was not rude to him!“) and the boys joined with their friends Jordan and Matt to create their unique sound. So far in their short career, they have had the pleasure of supporting the likes of BADBADNOTGOOD, Peking Duck, and Bag Raiders, just to name a couple of their idols who have already recognised their immense talent. “I think the BADBADNOTGOOD show was like our second ever show“. Jeez, these guys must be good.
Sweeping hypnotic synthesisers and mesmerising vocals are a must in all their tracks, but they explain that sometimes writing a track with four very different strong contributors can be a major challenge. “A lot of the time we have to agree to disagree, especially because we do have three different vocalists. Things can get pretty heated“. However, it is clear that balancing talent, taste and ego might be tricky, it’s ultimately an asset during the songwriting process “We don’t function in the way a normal four-piece band would, where we all have separate instruments and write separate parts, we all contribute in every element of our tracks. As much as we are different in our styles of music and writing, we all appreciate each other’s musical styles, so we definitely aren’t at each other’s throats all the time”.
Their debut EP Charade was released in 2015 and set the benchmark for the style and quality of music that Otious fans have come to love. The most successful track off of the EP, All I Know, is a delightfully mellow track about a crumbling love, and has clocked over 70K plays on Soundcloud. It will both haunt you and make you want to sway your hips from side to side. Their newer work is decorated with elements of their first official releases, whilst growing into a more evolved and uptempo body of work. “We don’t ever really go back and listen to our old tracks (unless we are playing them). In terms of sounds we create, the stuff we are making now is a lot more uptempo, a lot more house elements, but then again we still have stuff that sounds really similar to the mellow stuff we put out on our first EP. It’s more or less just about the feel of the tracks. We aren’t too worried about making it sound consistent“.
They discussed how finding their place within the Australian music industry offers both challenges and rewards, and how the Australian marketplace is different to other western countries. “Music is so accessible in Australia, even look at Triple J and what they do with ‘Unearthed’, it’s amazing how easy it is to get your music out there“. Tapping into a global marketplace is something Otious will be able to conquer soon enough, but in terms of reaching that goal, the gang make it clear their priority is conquering Australia first “It is good to know other people from other countries and see how they are playing their stuff and how it is being received. It would be amazing to reach a more global audience but in terms of Australia, I think we have the best environment to push music to more people and to play lots of live shows“.
Chatting with Otious, one thing becomes abundantly clear – they are just so stoked to be on this journey together. Hearing a brilliant story of how a sound engineer they had booked was rolling his eyes as Alan and Matt were laughing their heads off and enjoying themselves too much, speaks volumes about the dynamic between these talented young boys. They’re keeping themselves busy and cooking up some new music to be released very soon “We are organising some shows to do soon because we have tonnes of material that we want to release. The plan is to keep plugging away writing heaps of music, and hope to play lots of shows over the summer and into the New Year“.
Check out their Soundcloud page and keep up to date with all their releases here.