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Obey City: the interview

Obey City
Motormouth Media

The Red Bull Guest House is coming to the Gale South Beach starting on Thursday, March 27 and with it, it's bringing a whole host of showcases from record labels aiming to show off how talented their artists are. One such artist is Obey City: DJ, producer and part label owner. Obey has recently signed to LuckyMe Records and will be part of their showcase on Friday, March 28. I had a chance to chat with him about his music, his upcoming Red Bull Guest House performance and other inspirations.

Your name has a unique pronunciation. How did you decide that that was the name you were going to go by?

Many people don’t realize that my actual last name is spelled Obey and also prounounced “oh-bee.” So essentially, it’s just a silly pun I created using my last name in college to sound like the word “obesity” (for my super PHAT beats). I was originally going by DJ Obeysity then just Obeysity but I finally decided on the spelling Obey City. I realize it can throw people off, but I like how it looks aesthetically.

What are your favorite genres to fuse together when creating a mix?

I don’t really have a favorite genre – I guess I tend to mix a lot of house/garage, R&B, rap, and ghetto club but I really just try to go for a specific feeling more than focus on genres. I try to throw a lot of curve balls and things you don’t hear in the typical electronic producer’s mix.

Any genres of music that you’ve found don’t work if you try to mix them together?

I don’t think there’s any restriction to mixing genres. If they sound really bad together than they are probably just out of key or beat.

You started out making beats, tell me more about the decision to start deejaying and producing full time.

Well, unless you are able to sell beats to rappers or get them placed on records, you aren’t going to make any money. I had little success with this so I decided to try and make self-contained music that didn’t require vocals. It gradually became more danceable as I went out to clubs and saw other DJs play. So it was a gradual evolution rather than a conscious decision.

What inspired you to start Astro Nautico?

Astro Nautico was originally a Montreal based radio show turned-blog created by one of the three co-founders, Paul Jones. I often see it being credited as my label alone, but it was the two of us plus our friend Kuhn who decided to expand it from a blog into a label and eventually party. It was just a case of three friends sharing similar interests, inspiring one another to make music and art and the more people showed us love, the more it inspired us to help it grow.

How did you get involved with Flatbush Zombies? What is it like working with them?

I had known Erick from the group for several years and previously collaborated with him on his solo records and performances. I remember him playing me the earliest freestyles they had recorded together, sort of half seriously, and immediately wanted to be involved. I sent them a beat a year before their first mixtape came out, which eventually became the song “YBA.” I was lucky to have had the opportunity to DJ for them at some huge shows. It was a positive experience and I imagine we’ll keep working together in some from in the future.

What can people expect from your set at the Red Bull Guest House?

I don’t really like expectations. I think the best thing you can do when listening to a DJ is to allow them to shape your experience rather than expecting them to create something specific. Whether or not you enjoy it is obviously subjective, but at least you’ve heard something new.

One artist people would be surprised to find out is on your iPod?

I recently went through my old iTunes folders and added a bunch of classics back on my iPod. One of these is the band Interpol, who I used to listen to all the time in high school.

Anything else you want to add?

Keep an open mind when listening to DJs and you might hear something new you didn’t know you enjoyed yet.