Having forged deserved relationships with two of the most celebrated labels in contemporary electronic music, Lobster Theremin and Workshop, Ozel AB is already a recognisable moniker on a house and techno scene that’s busier and faster evolving than ever. More recently, he contributed a forceful and atmospheric remix - his first ever to be officially released - of James Welsh’s ‘Thread’. The record is out now, also featuring remixes from FC Kahuna and Radio Slave.
It’s basically a mix of newish stuff and some old favourites. Having played live for so long, I’ve really been trying to push my DJing a bit more lately. This mix represents the variety of stuff I like to play out.
I’ve been making music in one way or another since I was young, but the records that really inspired me to start producing were Endtroducing by DJ Shadow, Deadringer by RJD2, Full Circle by Hieroglyphics, OST by People Under the Stairs, some of the earlier DJ Krush stuff, Mezzanine by Massive Attack, Deltron 3030. I was really interested in the ways in which people use samples, particularly percussion.
I’ve made a couple before for friends, but this is the first one I’ve had out on vinyl. I enjoy the process of recontextualising a piece of music, its very much like sampling in hip hop. I have another remix coming out over the next couple of months on my mates label Subsubtropics. As for remixers I look up to, I love Roman Flugel and Kassem Mosse. Whichever track they’re remixing, they always manage to make it their own.
Your releases thus far have all been relatively house and techno oriented, but your musical palette is broad, ranging from Madlib to Tom Waits. Do you usually attempt to capture something about these artists to transplant into your own music, even if the context is different?
Definitely. This is really important to me. House and techno that is derivative of other house and techno often only yields the kind of music we’ve heard a thousand times before. I can listen to Tom Waits, Scott Walker or Madlib and still draw inspiration from their music even if the context is different.
You had one of the most feted and impressive early releases on Lobster Theremin. The label have diversified, of course, as have you, but were probably the label best associated with the term ‘lo-fi’. Nonetheless; What’s it like being caught up accidentally as part of a ‘sound’. Is it a good feeling to be briefly very topical, or did it feel like a hinderance? How did you navigate that in the studio, and as a DJ?
It’s strange how Lobster became synonymous with the genre considering that lofi house only equates for a small percentage of what they put out. I try not to worry too much about genres or labels though, and just do my thing, so it hasn’t really affected the way I approach the studio or my DJ sets. Having said that, it can be a little frustrating to be associated with a sound that you feel very little connection to, but I think that inevitably, the music ends up speaking for itself. You can always hear a distinction between the artists that are trying to push through and do their own thing, and the ones who are happy to be flavour of the month.