Still waters run deep, but OFFAIAH prefers to keep it that way. After growing up in East London, he did a little revitalizing himself in tandem with the growth of his town that was threatened to crumble under neglect and rubble. It’s a phoenix story of sorts, but only in highlighting OFFAIAH’s drive to take his work seriously once he sets his mind to it. Having recovered from a helicopter crash in 2017, OFFAIAH returned in full force in 2018. “Work It Out” his debut release on Defected Records landed on August 3rd. OFFAIAH finished off 2018 with remixes of Calvin Harris/Sam Smith, Jack Back & Deadmau5 as well as a follow up EP on Defected. So far in 2019 OFFAIAH has had his third release on AllFire records entitled ‘Cheddar’ with large support in the US. This once again has displayed his unique talent and diverse sound. Defected Records is the home to his latest release ‘Somewhere Special’ which features the vocals of Cat Connors and currently is only available to stream but has had massive support from Spotify so far. This release is destined to be something special (Get it again?).
Can you tell us a bit about your background in music and your career to date?
Hey – I’ve been studying music all my life, being the son of a piano teacher, I learned to play the piano from the early age of 4 and went on to take all my grades, picking up a few other instruments along the way, including the trumpet, guitar, and drums. I never thought I’d make a living making music but I fell into it “by mistake”, being friends with a producer and messing around in his studio we made a track together which ended went on to be a top 40 hit in the UK and I never looked back since. I’ve been making music under different aliases since 1999 and started the OFFAIAH project in 2016 with “Trouble” which went on to be a big club and radio hit.
How would you describe your sound and why did you feel it was time for a move away from the sounds with which your previous aliases have had huge success?
I like to describe my sound as “sonically groovin” – I’m always looking for cool grooves which are the basis upon which I make all my tracks. Groove is everything to me, its what gets people moving on the dance floor. Once the groove is nailed I’m on to the sonics and work really hard to make sure the track has an overall pleasing and satisfyingly warm sound.
As you mentioned I’ve produced under various different aliases over the past 19 years and I’m always challenging myself to make something new and different – slipping into house/tech house just felt natural to me at the time – it wasn’t really a conscious decision but more of an unconscious one.
I always describe the way I work in the studio as a never-ending experiment and I just let the music takes me where it wants to go.
Can you tell us anything about what you have in store for your sets? Will these be true to the Offaiah brand, or do you have some surprises hidden up your sleeve?
I’ve been working on a lot of new material of late, some new originals and some remixes, one for Armin Van Buuren and one for Robin Schulz to name but a few and I’m looking to show-case these mixes at these events, along with a few cheeky samples and vocals I have ready to keep people on their toes.
There is no one “right” way to write a new song, but I’m interested to understand your process when writing a new song. Are you a technical composer with a formulaic approach, or do you lean towards a more instinctive method?
This is a good question as there is no right way – however I tend to start off most productions working on the bottom-end, being the kick and bass, trying to get something interesting going on and work my way up. Every so often I’ll throw that method out the window and just hunt around for a cool melody, riff or sound and produce the rest of the song around that – so really there are no rules as such, I just like to work in a way that seems to feel right at the time.
Do you approach your remixes in the same way?
Remixes are usually started by laying down the part of the song that stands out to me the most, whether that be the vocal or riff and then working the rest of the production around that.
The debate about playing digital or vinyl will always be a hotly contested one which do you prefer and why?
I actually started off playing vinyl and let me tell you it can be a real pain lugging a big record box with you around the world – especially when the alternative is a usb drive that you can slip in to your pocket. I’m always looking into ways of how to deliver the best possible sound but, personally-speaking, the difference in sound quality of vinyl over digital is not enough to warrant to playing on vinyl.
Do you have any favorite presets? Or do you prefer to make your own?
There are so many cool presets like Principle Pleasure, Sci-Fi Brass and Silky Chords, but ultimately I love to play around with and tweak presets to create my own unique sounds.
What’s one piece of advice that you wish you were given when you started out in the [Music] Industry?
Don’t try to copy or be anyone else, always be your own unique self and with hard work and determination, you will go on to shine.
What does the future hold for OFFAIAH and what have you got in the works we should be listening out for?
I’m just working away, forever experimenting in the studio so looking forward to seeing what comes out next.
My next release is called “Love Me” which is out June 14th 2019 on Solotoko, and after that I have some cool collaborations lined up for late summer/autumn, so be sure to look out for those.
Just want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who is listening and supporting my music, and I hope to see you at a show one day very soon!