Oleeva is a fresh new music and art concept that is pushing boundaries and turning heads. We caught up with Will, label founder and one half of the duo Kotu, to find out more about this ambitious project, ahead of his guest appearance on our radio show.
Hey Will, welcome to the CC radio and blog. So firstly, tell us about the background and concept of Oleeva?
Sure, Oleeva is a big family of music and art lovers. The label is based on a foundation of a few ideas and values that we really believe in and present them to the world in our own little way. Family, togetherness, a love of the natural world, beautiful artwork, organic sounds and authentic music. With every release we get an original piece of art done, the art gets printed to bamboo paper and then we send prints to the artist, the producer and the remixer.
When did you launch the label and what was the process?
The label was launched in December 2015 whilst in LA. The process was very simple, making a Soundcloud profile and choosing the first track to release, however it has got a lot more complicated since then. It’s been a big learning curve but an exciting one.
Why do you feel that visual art is important and how do you feel it ties in with music as a creative art form?
I thinks it’s a joke when a producer has put so much love and energy into creating a piece of music, which is then uploaded and shared around the internet, bought, downloaded, whatever, but its represented by a tiny little square image thats taken someone 5 minutes to rustle up with no love and has no correlation to the music. When you’re online finding new music, the first thing you see before you hear the track is the art, and that’s all you have to go by in deciding whether you want to listen to it. If I saw an image of neon lights, cheesy silhouettes of people dancing and huge big bold crazy writing, I’d assume (maybe wrongly), that the music will be pretty in your face, cheesy dance music. When I see a beautiful painting of a jungle, or forest, or an image of some mysterious cold mountains, I think (again maybe wrongly) that the music might have depth, be pretty adventurous, minimal, atmospheric or simply that the music will be quality. I hope that the feelings I get from looking at the art or photography are similar to the feelings I get when listening to the music.
What inspires you?
Good question, a lot! The natural world is really inspiring. Mountains, jungles, forests, oceans! Recently I’ve been hiking, exploring and taking lots of photos in Snowdonia, and Cornwall. When I see these epic mountains with clouds drifting over them, or the hot crazy intense jungle in Eden Project Cornwall I just think how can I express and re-create this and share it with the world.
The rest of my inspiration comes from the people around me. Oleeva is a large family, about 25 artists from around the world, and I genuinely believe they are some of the most exciting and talented individuals in the world. They’re always sending me new music, sketches, ideas and experiments and they just completely amaze me. Being amongst this level of talent really pushes you. Right now I’m listening to something from Giovanni (Notte Infinita), it’s a 6 minute piece that consists mainly of delayed guitar with a bunch of crazy effects on, it’s super atmospheric and interesting and it’s making me picture very barren deserts and long hot roads.
Do you have a music policy on the label?
Not really, I just have to really like it. We love the use of field recordings, organic percussion, real sounds that your ears are used to hearing. Sounds solely generated from computers are alien to us, they’re not quite right. I find music that incorporates sounds from the real world is a lot easier and more comforting to listen to. Christian Löffler and Nandu are masters of this, I could not recommend their music enough, amazing!
How do you source your artists, both musically and visually?
Both are a combination of friends, people that live near me, and the internet. I would hear some music online and quickly send a message to the producer and explain to them the project and it would start from there. I have a lot of very talented friends that don’t have a platform for their creative work, and Oleeva is that platform now.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a label?
Do it with people you love. Music is a very personal thing, and for the people producing it, its one of the biggest and most important things in their life. When they give it to you to release they are putting a lot of trust in you. You have to do it with people you genuinely like on a personal level. It makes everything easier. Its great being on the same wavelength as people and all having a real understanding of what we’re trying to achieve.
What do you have coming up in the future and what are your long term goals as a label?
Of course lots of music and art, we release basically every month. In a few weeks the label has its first booking. On November 19th, Kotu & Nicolas will be representing Oleeva playing in a London warehouse for the magical event WUITW. We are also planning label showcases around the UK and Europe which will be really special. We haven’t really mentioned it publicly yet, but now is probably a good time. Our first Album is coming out pretty soon. Its a various artist, 11 track album titled Masai. I’m honoured to be releasing it. The music in it is beyond incredible. and the artwork is perfect, Heather Griffin and Katie smashed it. I’m really really proud of what we’ve achieved with this and I’m so excited to share it with everyone. Here is the cover!
We have 2 main long term goals. The first is vinyl releases, we hope to have our music on wax and our art on vinyl sleeves soon! The second is a secret, a grand plan that will hopefully begin in a few years. I think we would be the the first label to do it and when it happens it will be a dream come true.
Who are KOTU and what part do they play at Oleeva?
Kotu is the duo I’m in with Tom Chambers. We live in Bath, produce records, play gigs together, and do everything we can to make the dream of living off music a reality. And we eat a lot of hot sauce (especially Tapatio, it has the perfect balance between a rich flavour and a decent heat, but our supply has run out because I bought it in LA). We’re currently shooting a lot of footage to be used in a little movie thing we’re making, basically an insight in to our lives, its for us to look back on and enjoy as much as it is for other people. In regards to Oleeva, we are happy to release on other labels but Oleeva is definitely our home. We are not fussed by huge labels, i think a lot of them lack personality and don’t really care about their artists. The balance between Kotu and Oleeva is just right, they work in perfect harmony and each help the other grow. We had a few months apart during the summer but now we’re back in the studio and getting a lot done, its a really exciting time. We feel like we’ve made a really strong foundation, and now its time to step up.
Tell us about the Kotu guest mix on the radio show – how did you put it together and what have you included?
The guest mix was a really good opportunity to showcase what we’re about and what Oleeva is about. We opened it up with a field recording we took of a carnival that sets the tone perfectly. Its got a kind of tribal theme running throughout, plenty of interesting percussion. Its not flawless, none of our mixes are really, we are real DJ’s that play live and we think if we make a mistake then its just kind of honest to include it. It was important for the mix to be the different to what people are used to. Theres some slightly weird and random tracks in it but life is random and can be hectic so its cool the mix is like that too. Out of 10 tracks, 6 of them are Oleeva tracks, and 2 are from the upcoming album Masai, so it definitely has “our” sound. We really hope you connect with the mix and what we are trying to do. Stay tuned!
Sorry to be really cheesy and cliche, but I have to say a huge personal thank you everyone involved because without them it would just be me, a laptop and some trees!
All the amazing musicians, Notte Infinita, Rudy, Idem Nevi, Josh Gregg, James Henry, Feelnoize, Idyll Thomas, Dom Townsend, Ferris, Phrene, Tom Frankel, Dead-Tones, Kotu, Sam Goku, Enzer, Arude, Astrea, Good Intention, We Are Alien, Liam René, Quelaan, Nicolas, Smeti, Croft, Bird Noire, Bmbmnd and Felix Wittich.
Our artists Shannon, Chloé, Amber, Katie, Dean, Laura and Heather. The master photographers Jon, Jordan and Ashley, Martin Olmos (Allmostt) on mastering and last but not least the brilliant and beautiful humans Steppi, Idean, Nasser and Alex.
(I said it was a big family)
Peace and love.
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