PRIME chats with Moving Castle's AObeats about his upbringing, production style and single, "Like You"
PRIME: Give us a quick AObeats introduction.
AOBEATS: My name is Andrew Okamura, I grew up in Western Massachusetts and I like making music. Throughout my childhood I played various instruments, the main one being violin. I was in various chamber orchestras and symphony orchestras throughout school and also played alto saxophone for a number of years. A fun tidbit: I actually played violin in the White House my senior year of high school.
PRIME: You're part Japanese, which is badass. Speaking from personal experience, Asian-American parents can sometimes be pretty "traditional" in terms of career choices and expectations of their kids. How did your parents initially view your interest in music production? Do you feel as though the culture has influenced your sound at all?
AOBEATS: Both of my parents are visual artists, which I think shaped my childhood slightly differently than a lot of more "traditional" Asian-American households, or at least what they are portrayed as. My parents have always been incredibly supportive of my pursuit of music. I do think they may have had some worries in the beginning for my career choice, knowing that having a career in the arts can always have its ups and downs, but they have always been incredibly supportive. Culturally, it's hard to say if Japanese culture has had a direct influence on my sound, but it has 100% shaped my identity and who I am as a person, which in turn has shaped my view as an artist.
PRIME: Your recent release, "Like You", featured K-Pop star Eric Nam. Tell us a little bit about how that came about.
AOBEATS: “Like You” kind of came about by chance. Sakima (who I have another artist project with called SWIMS) and I wrote the song with Eric a couple of months ago - not even sure who the song would be for originally. I certainly wasn’t sure at the time if our names would even be on the song, but Eric and his team were open to having it as a collaboration release between myself and Eric and also having it out on Moving Castle - which was awesome to see come to fruition.
PRIME: Are there any certain standout albums from your adolescence that have really stuck with you over the years?
AOBEATS: I mostly listened to hip-hop and rap growing up, apart from the classical and jazz training, and I think that really shaped my taste and ear. One album that for me changed my life was 50 Cent’s "Get Rich or Die Tryin’". I have a vivid memory of being in the car and hearing both "In Da Club" by 50 Cent and "Get Busy" by Sean Paul back to back, and it totally flipped my world upside down. I can easily say that those two songs are what made me want to further pursue actually making beats and composing music. All of my beats for the first 3 or so years of producing sounded like Scott Storch/Dr. Dre orchestral beats.
PRIME: Talk about your production process briefly - what DAW is your favorite and how do you find inspiration?
AOBEATS: I use Ableton. Inspiration for me really differs depending on the song. I don’t really have one go-to way of making music. I also love collaboration and working with other people, whether that’s working with singers and songwriters or other producers, or both. I think because my first goal with music was to be a producer for other people, and it is still something I would love to do and am trying to do long-term in addition to my own projects. I love working with someone to try and bring out the best in them and I think in turn I find the best in myself doing that.
PRIME: How did you first meet Manila Killa and Robokid and eventually form Moving Castle?
AOBEATS: I first met Chris (Manila Killa) in 2013 through a mutual friend who I worked with at a summer internship in New York. He and Chris went to high school together and he introduced us over the internet - we actually made a whole EP together before we first actually met in person. I met Ethan (Robokid) the same year after finding that a remix he had done of Lana Del Rey was posted on a YouTube channel called "Moomba Blasta", and I realized that he went to the same college I did. Later that fall after we had all started to become more acquainted.
PRIME: Can you give us some insight into what we can expect from you in 2018?
AOBEATS: I’m working on a project for AObeats that I don’t want to say too much about yet, but that I’m really excited for. I’m going to spend the next few months finishing that up. I feel like it is the first thing that I’ve really been able to think through as a cohesive project. I’ve learned a lot over the past few years and I think this project will be somewhat of a culmination of all of those things. I’m also currently working with Sakima on a mini-album for our project SWIMS that will be coming in the earlier half of 2018. I’m really, really excited for the music that I’ve been working on for some of friends' other projects to finally come out, it's some of my favorite stuff that I’ve worked on and there’s a lot of it.
PRIME: Lastly, anything that you want to say to your fans?
AOBEATS: Thanks so much for listening, and there's much more to come soon.