by Anna Mroczkowski
photos by Dawndra Budd
Otis Calvin, III aka OCnotes, is a beloved crazy genius musician living on Earth by way of Seattle. He’s a man of many talents, many opinions and many talented opinions. But regardless of your own opinion on any of his points of view, no one can deny Otis his earnestness. His sincerity and passion for art, just about anything that he holds valuable really, is magnetic and hopefully contagious because we need more of it in this world.
He believes in giving back, especially to kids. That’s how AFA got to know him. He DJ’d our launch party, did an interactive presentation on the science of sound for third graders, mentored a teen singer-songwriter and will be performing at our first anniversary party next month. One of the reasons he’s so fun to work with is his openness to collaborate with others. He likes art of all kinds and isn’t afraid to try new ways of experiencing his music through artist collaborations. A hand painted animated video for the song Weight of the World (off the Moldavite release this year), a comic book and a piece of original artwork to go with each song off this latest album are just a few great examples.
He’s an idealist but he’s human. He will tell you to be fearless but acknowledges he can get nervous, he has doubts. When you put your heart and soul into something, well, that’s your heart and soul out there! It’s about feeling and knowing how you want it to be, working really hard and being accountable.
He’s dropping a new album on October 11th and it seemed like a perfectly reasonable time to dress him up in weird clothes and ask him some questions.
The album is Pre-future Post Modern Love Songs aka Alien Booty Bass
Otis: I’ve been sitting on it for like a year. I have another [album] but yeah, I’ve been sitting on this one for about a year. It’s so good, it doesn’t have any samples. I want something to happen with it. I don’t want it to just be some free music on the internet where people won’t give it the respect it deserves.
Anna: It’s a new genre called Alien Booty Bass?
Otis: That’s what it is. That’s the genre. This one is Pre-future Post Modern Love Songs aka Alien Booty Bass, the next one will be another title but it’s also going to be Alien Booty Bass. It’s a genre of basically no genre. The genre is just you know dancing, rock party dancing.
Anna: Have any more details surfaced about the release party?
Otis: It’s gonna be dope. I forgot it was Art Walk that day, so they’re going to have some really awesome art in front. They always have great art at Vermillion. Zach Hendrix & Leland Jones, the cats that do midnight hotline rendezvous will be my openers and my closers. They do modern soul, just filthy dj-ing old-school style. Leland is the MC and he MCs over Zach’s dj-ing. And he’s dj-ing all these old, you know 80s and modern soul cuts that are hella filthy so everybody will already be in a super groovy dancing mood. Then I’m gonna go and do my thing.
Anna: You’re going to have a band!
Otis: Yeah it’s hella filthy we’ve been rehearsing. Vermillion is bringing some gangster ass PA system. I want to change the environment to feel kind of like an alien landscape.
We’re tryin to do this midnight hotline rendezvous thing as a group and take it on tour. People have their little squads here and this show isn’t like that, this is just my homies that are filthy. Everyone has been super excited about it and the rehearsals have been gold.
Anna: Do people know that you do all the instrumentation on your albums?
Otis: No, tons of people still don’t know that I produced metal chocolates. They think that I just rap in it and do vocals.
Both Shabazz Palaces and Thee Satisfaction have long been supportive of OCnote’s music. That’s how I first heard him (Black Up album release party tipped the axis, thanks for being filthy). Which brings him to talking about other supportive artists in the community.
Otis: It’s cool to be able to really have people support me doing what I really want to do like Vellela Vellela it’s really cool to have people around you who really care. Being filler, I can’t really do a show. It would be too much. People [book] me a lot because I have an easy set up and I do a good job. (Then they act surprised) Oh you play instruments? You do this you do that? Yeah I do all that stuff.
This show at the Fremont Abby, that was great! (it really really was) I would have never have got to do that show if it wasn’t for Ben Verdoes! Do you know how many people have hit me up about that show? It was great and I never get chances to do shows like that.
I’m playing Terrain festival on the fifth of October in Spokane and it’s gonna be huge. The cool thing about this record is, it’s universal man. It’s not just for black people or any type of person, it’s for everybody. The songs that have words, there’s only like 4 or 5 songs with words, they’re all universal, it’s just love songs.
Another reason I want to do this record is I feel like a lot of people are scared to make the music they really want to make. I record these cats rapping and they get to a part where they have to sing for a hook and they get nervous! Like it’s embarrassing to sing and I’m like dog, SING! You’re more embarrassed to sing than rap about [use your imagination], it’s hilarious, come on.
People like Psupremo should continue to rap because he’s a real cat and he tells stories! His raps are straight stories dog. He’s not just talking about how dope he his. And he doesn’t care about singing, he’ll sing in a HOT second! In a hot second!
Anna: Some people can’t sing though.
Otis: It doesn’t matter, you gotta try. It’s not about being able to, I can’t really sing you know, but a cat told me something that I always knew and felt was real but had never had the science explained to me. Everybody can sing it’s just about letting go. That’s really what it is. The moment you stop caring about the things you think you’re supposed to care about, you will be singing. You will hit the notes you want to hit. That’s how it works. First you feel it, then you hear it. You feel it then you know you can have a conscious thought and I know this with me, I get it all the time get it all the time, I’ll have a thought I can’t hit that. That’s too high. And I won’t hit it because I killed the feeling, and then I’m all in my head. But if you just eliminate that conscious and just stick with the feeling? Man… you might think you can’t sing but you just might be the best singer ever.
I’d love to tell any of you new to the music of OCnotes what you can expect from his album, but that would defeat the purpose! Spend some time on his band camp or his website and listen for yourself. My kids are fond of playing duck hunt and Pac Man on there too. I predict that in the future he will have an app where you answer 7 questions that calculate your mood and consciousness level and it adjusts your OCnotes playlist accordingly. Otis launches his album on 10/11/12 at Vermillion and if you like to party and dance and feel good and support our local art culture, you should check it out. We are proud to support an artist like Otis and grateful for his support over the last year. We wish him all the best in what is yet to come.
Notes on the shoot:
Dawndra Budd is a local photographer who specializes in creative and surreal portraits. I just love this lady. She’s easy-going and funny and has a really special talent photographing children too. We had a lot of fun in the studio goofing around and getting creative. For more information on how to work with Dawndra visit her website or facebook page.
“I’d like to thank the Baptist Church for giving me all these cool voices” – OCnotes Wednesday night on the Art Show