Multi-talented producer, Oakley Grenell, has had a really awesome comeback since 2020 and released a new track, “Flavour,” on the 6th of May with slamming beats collaborating with ”Fyah Roiall.” We have a chance to interview this beast mode beats creator about his music career and how he makes those tempos work for the listeners with his choice of music and writing the lyrics.
- Tell us more about your journey in the music industry. You released a track in 2014, and there were no releases until 2020. What held you back in between those years?
The last album I released was called ‘The Deep’ and that album featured vocalists on every track. Up to that point I had released an album a year since 2003, so I needed a break. Between 2014 and 2020 I got back on my beat-making grind and got stuck in a ‘trap’ so to speak. I really got into making beats around 70/140bpm and went down the trap rabbit hole being inspired by producers such as Troyboi, RL Grime, Party Favor, Hudson Mohowake, and Flosstradamus.
- How did 2020 influence you and get you back to producing music?
The 2 six-track EPs I released in 2020 and 2021 was both a buildup of tunes that I had made since the last release. I try to group the songs, so they flow together stylistically. Eg. The ‘Style Dem Ripe’ EP was more dancehall influenced, whereas the ‘Strictly Niceness’ EP was more hip-hop/trap based.
- Who is the artist that inspired you the most during your work with them?
Fyah Roiall was definitely the most honed at his skills. He did maybe 2 takes and was like ‘that’s it. That made me think I need to step up my beat making productivity and the time I spend creating. Rider Shafique also came through with the goods on the tunes ‘Strictly Niceness’. I specifically asked for him to write about a theme and he perfectly encapsulated it with style, vibe, and tone. Legends, both of them!
- What do you usually do to get inspired? Is there a certain ritual you start before creating your beats?
I love to go out to live music, DJ shows, or festivals, usually, that inspires me to get back in the studio, after hearing something new and fresh. The thought of collaborating also inspires me to sculpt specific tunes for vocalists.
- How do you usually meet the artists you collaborate with?
Back in New Zealand I am kind of known in the underground scene so it’s not really a problem enlisting NZ vocalists or MCs. Some are friends of friends, and some I approach via management, if internationals are touring, I might contact their team and reach out with a dropbox full of beats to choose from.
- Tell us which music you’ve produced that you had fun with while making it. Can you tell us more about it?
All my beats hold a special place in my catalog. Usually, if an idea moves me I will keep working on it, whether that be turning the lights, closing my eyes and imagining I’m on the dance floor, or performing it on stage. The fun lies in the creation and what I think can be added to it as the possibilities are endless. The excitement is usually the addition of textures, synth, or bass movements, thinking about who would be able to ‘ride the beat’ the best. ‘Flavour’ was fun in the fact that it’s really an Atlanta-inspired Hip-hop vibe with the bass line playing the flat 13 note which is kind of uncommon and gives it an uneasiness. When Fyah Roiall chose that beat I knew he would bring a completely different spin to it.
- Which track that you produced is close to you and why is that?
‘Why’ is the opening track off the Strictly Niceness EP and it really is a sparse, broken-down emotional track. The melancholic chord progression and melody I feel are some of my best work. The only sample lyric is ‘Why’ and it relates to how I was questioning my actions, and thought patterns during the pandemic. In the beginning, it’s a slow Trap hip hop beat, but I love the switch up to double time as this harkens back to my First EP from 2001 which was really Jungle-inspired.
- Who are the artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?
I would love to collaborate with King Kapisi, Che Fu, Million Dan, Rodney P, What What, Miss Banks, Stylo G, Young Buck the list could go on and on. . . .
- What got you into making music? Tell us how you started.
My father is a musician since the age of 19 so we were exposed to music since birth. My parents also organized Music festivals on our family farm, so every summer was a huge party with lots of different musical styles being performed.
- Are you planning to go on live tours? Where would you start?
I’ve lived in Melbourne for 12 years so normally I head back over to New Zealand over the 6-week Summer holiday and do around 25 shows be it either solo guitar and vocals, band work, or Dj-ing. I’m currently putting together this yearly pilgrimage which I have not been able to do in the last 2 years, but I need to start incorporating Australia as part of the tour. If anyone in Europe needs any slots filled at venues or festivals over your summer months, hit me up : )
- Let’s talk about your brand new track, “Flavour,” that was just released. What was it like to create it? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? Any unexpected challenges?
Some beats will sit in a Dropbox for years until the right vocalist comes along. Sometimes the thought of a collab will get certain beats finished and I try to leave a lot of room for me to mold the beat or instruments around the vocal, so it sounds more like a collaboration and not an MC ringing 16 bars in for a paycheck. I love it when I am actually in the studio at the time of record because then I can really become a record producer, suggesting specific deliveries, extra BV’s, and extra takes to be able to have multiple backup vocals that I can pan left and right. It just makes the end product that more satisfying knowing I have injected all my of my creative ideas into it and exhausted all musical avenues and possibilities
- What sparked the idea for “Flavour”?
To be honest, the best idea was inspired by a beat from Wiz Khalifah. I was at Open Air Fraudenfield Festival in Switzerland and Wiz was one of the headliners. I didn’t know any of his work and to be honest, a lot of it was ‘sing songey’, but there was one tune that just blew the rest away. I can’t remember the name but when the band came in over the top of the Dj it was epic. I just wanted to emulate that heaviness and energy at a Trap tempo, and Fyah brings that lyrical wordplay plus his tone and delivery are relaxed but also so confident.
- When was that first “Oh shit” moment when you realized that music was going to pay off for you?
One of these moments was when I received my first cheque for some of my tunes being placed on a TV show, then they kept using my songs for the following 2 to 3 years, and these payments funded my next album projects. Another one was I had just finished my 3 year Jazz Guitar Degree securing a scholarship and didn’t know what avenue to go down for a day job then I realized that I wanted to be involved with music in every aspect, so I became a teacher – to share my love of music, inspire others to be involved and also we get great holidays so I can also use that time to tour and work on music projects.
- What are the hopes and fears for the future?
My hope is that I get the next 3 album projects completed in the next 5 years. A fear is that I feel streaming has taken the value out of music in the fact that everything is so disposable and ‘single’ based.