Mix #054 + Interview By Ray Okpara
An artist whose roots lie half in Nigeria represents today for what we understand as House. Percussions, drifty hypnotic beats, a touch of soul and marvellously deep. House is a feeling and Ray Okpara has his finger firmly on the pulse…
Despite coming to prominence during the media’s 2008 obsession with Frankfurt/Mannheim via releases on Cecille, Oslo, Get Physical and Area Remote, Okpara has been instrumental in Germany’s flourishing house scene for well over a decade. Initially taking to the decks in the mid-90’s, Okpara quickly found his groove.
As with most DJs, the production itch had to be scratched. Lomidhigh Ltd, Drumpoet Community and Arearemote are an enviable bunch to count as early adopters for any budding producer and this start made just strengthened Ray’s resolve. Rejoining his tight knit group of friends, now running the Oslo, Deep Vibes, Cecille and 8-Bit imprints, after a four year relocation to Berlin in 2005, Ray’s reputation was cemented and the rest is history.
Now based back in Berlin with a heavy touring schedule as a DJ and a dedicated live artist, Okpara continues to go from strength to strength. His Ama label rolls out consistently quality output in an unhurried manner while his own productions continue to hit home for crowds, critics and record buyers alike. As well as ongoing relationships forged in his Mannheim days, affiliations with Oslo and Mobilee are being nurtured and with many more projects still to be unveiled the future is looking pretty rosy for the cheery guy.
Hot of the heals of his latest EP, “Rao Del Rani,” Ray Okpara provides us with an exclusive mix of deep, percussive, and soulful tunes, perfect for your late summer blues.
Ray Okpara’s “Rao Del Rani” EP is now available on Mobilee Records
“I am very blessed that I inherited the groove.”
With your latest EP “Rao Del Rani” out now on Mobilee, what was the first aspect of what would become this EP that came to you? Was it a certain bassline, melody…?
Hey guys, hows it going?! I just woke up and it’s a beautiful summer day. It´s 8:25 in the morning and now I am in interview mode. ☺
To be honest I never know which direction my music goes. Sometimes a good sample or sometimes I play around till I like a bassline or drums. This time with RAO I started it with the moog/miniature bassline. Which is a big part of the evolving tune. RAO
Describe Mobilee as a record label and as an artist collective. How does Mobilee complement Ray Okpara and vice versa?
The good thing about mobilee is that there are many artists with different styles. So everyone fits in perfectly. Some more techno other more deeper. I any case we all fit and balance each other.
The EP comes with a Kenny Larkin remix of its title track. Why was Kenny Larkin the right person to feature as the official remix for the track? How did this remix collaboration come about?
I had the tracks already sorted for mobilee and then Ralf Kollmann told me one day that Kenny Larkin is going to rmx my tune. I was very surprised and also very happy that such a legend did a rmx for me. Great moment!
Though you are German based, you have roots in Nigeria. How up to date are you on the electronic scene in Nigeria? Are there any specific DJs or Producers you would recommend to keep an eye on coming out of Nigeria?
I really don’t know if there is a electronic scene in Nigeria. Most of the music which is being heard there is the US top ten, music genre called ‘high-life’ which is a mix between calypso sounds and afro beats with people talking and singing. But my friend Jerome Sydenham, who’s also Nigerian, told me he sometimes plays in Nigeria and he had loads of fun. Still on my agenda to play in my home country.
Musically, how would you define the influence of your Nigerian heritage?
I am very blessed that I inherited the groove. So maybe that helps me a lot with my music. From the percussions I use, you couldn´t tell that it is influenced by Nigeria.