‘Superconductor’ is not only the title of Opolopo’s (last) album on Z Records. As a matter of fact, it perfectly fits with and in-demand producer/remixer. With his name associated with some of the most beautiful releases we’ve told you about since the relaunch of Indamixworldwide.
From Mario Biondi & The High Five Quintet’s ‘This Is What You Are’ which pretty much got Opolopo’s name to recognition back in 2007. To Gregory Porter’s ‘1960 What?’ that brought him to the upper League. But also Sandy Barber‘s ‘I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own)’, standing in our 10 essential 2015 gems list. And/or more recently Los Charly’s Orchestra‘s ‘All Around The World’… As a matter of fact, sky just seems like the limit for Opolopo!
Szia, Peter and welcome aboard. First and foremost, huge congrats for the vibes you’ve been providing us with. I understand you’re hailing from Hungary which is not the first country coming to mind regarding the kind of music you’ve embraced. This gettin’ us straight to the point as to where this character named Opolopo has got his influences from…
Let us first know about your surroundings as a kid, next to the Balaton Lake. A location reputed for being one of the most beautiful places in this part of Eastern Europe. This makin’ it ideal for the transportation of the mind and soul. Has this been of an influence in your way of considering things???
“Well, I was born in Hungary, but our family defected to Sweden when I was 2 or 3. This was during the communist years and we couldn’t go back to visit until we became Swedish citizens. So I didn’t experience lake Balaton until my early teens. Meaning I can’t say that particular lake has influenced me much.”
How did this happen?
“My dad was a touring musician and had some gigs in Scandinavia. He got a taste of the West and felt we could have a better life there. While he was in Norway, me and my mother got permission from the Hungarian authorities to go and visit. And, from then, we never returned. We finally ended up livin’ in the South of Sweden and then moved to Stockholm when I was around 5.”
Unlike the rest of Europe, there’s a real activity as far as local folklore music is concerned in countries such as Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and former Yougoslavia. This with real virtuosos whatever their instruments might be. Is this something which, consciously or not, one could find in your background?
“Not really. I have memories of being fascinated by the cimbalom (dulcimer) when visiting Hungary. But my parents weren’t very nationalistic. So I never really heard any Hungarian folk music at home.”
I have the chance having a friend who had a label based in Budapest. There, he hooked me up back then with local talents such as Marcel, Gabor Deutsch and Yonderboi back in the second half of the 90’s. What were you at yourself at this time???
“I was in Stockholm producing and playing in a local Acid Jazz/Soul band. And, yes, I eventually hung out with Gabor in Budapest a few years ago. Great guy!”
Opolopo 1960, say what?
I understand your dad has been a Jazz musician. Has this had anything to do in the obvious precision of your arrangements?
“It’s been my dad’s record collection more than anything that influenced my songwriting and arrangements. My dad was heavily into Jazz and Fusion and his records where my education. I tried taking some piano lessons as a kid, both from my dad and others. But it never worked out. I was too impatient and more interested in tinkering on my own.”
How about you adoptive country, renowned for the dynamism of its Jazz scene???
“Sweden definitely has a strong Jazz heritage and as a teenager I used to go to concerts a lot.”
This bringing us to the memorable ‘1960 What?’ which got both US Blues/Jazz singer and yourself to a big recognition. How did this happen?
“It was one of those happy coincidences. I was playing the ‘1960 What?’ original a lot when it came out and felt that it would make a great club track with heavier beats and bass. So I did a tweak just for my own sets and put it up on Soundcloud for people to hear it. I also had links to Gregory’s debut album so people could discover the original…
The next day his label got in touch. They had heard the edit and asked if they could use it to promote the album and then eventually released it as an official remix. When I got the email from the label I was expecting it to be a “cease and desist”. But they totally got it, and it ended up being a win-win for everybody involved…
Do you see this experience as the one which set fire to the powder as far as you’re concerned?
“It did a lot of good and got both Gregory and myself a lot of attention in the club scene.”
I’ve been pretty much amazed by the way you’ve retouched Sandy Barber’s ‘I Think I’ll Do Some Steppin’ (On My Own)’ – in our list of 10 Must Have 2015 gems – givin’ it a new life although remaining true to its original spirit. Let us know about this close relation you’ve established with this song. The way you’ve considered reworking it…
“Thank you! Pretty much the same story as for ‘1960 What?’ as a matter of fact.
The original was included on a BBE compilation and I used to play it a lot. And, again, I thought it would work great in a clubbier setting with some tweaks. I did quite a bit more work on this one though. I ditched the parts that (to me) where a bit cheesy. Then I emphasized the melancholic vibe and added a lot of new keyboard parts. Eventually BBE got wind of it and it finally got a proper release…”
This bringing us to your perspective, starting from the blank copy. Do you have like an idea when considering the piece of music you’re given to retouch? What gets first into your mind? Do you work with so to say a method?
“I don’t really have a set way of doing a remix. But generally I start with the vocals and play around with new chords and changes. That will usually give me a vibe that will determine what kind of sounds and arrangement I’ll go for next.”
Music is meant to carry a message. Is this that you want to enhance?
“Depends on your definition of ‘message’. If it’s instrumental music, the message is whatever the listener interprets it to be. That’s the beauty of it. But if we’re talking about vocal remixes, it can be different. For me personally, the lyrics come absolutely last. It’s the delivery and melody that catches my ear first. Unless the lyrics are particularly powerful or original, the ‘message’ for me is the overall vibe of the track. Sometimes I want to emphasize that vibe and sometimes I want to completely change it…”
Time to talk about your favorite artists / Producers / DJ’s… Who do you feel the closest too, spiritually talkin’?
“It’s really hard to pick favorites. There are so many out there. If we are talking about contemporary artists/producers who are on the beat-driven spectrum, some people whose music always resonates with me include Atjazz, Kaidi Tatham, Simon Grey, Shur-I-Khan, Louie Vega, 4Hero… to name just a few. There are way more of course.”
Who are the ones to watch out, putting yourself in the skin of a listener X or Y???
“Some people who definitely deserve more attention are Trian Kayhatu, DeejayKul and Mr. Krime.”
Your pseudonym, Opolopo, means “plenty” in Yoruban. So… “plenty of what”? Thoughts? Images? Dreams, in your relation with music?
“Opolopo is a name I picked for an old album project that had quite a few different styles. So originally it was “plenty” of musical styles…”