Stream the fog-cutting debut album by Dropping Gems regular DJAO

The Seattle producer-vocalist readies an eponymous debut.

DJAO (aka Alex Osuch) has long been associated with Portland’s Dropping Gems label/collective (a frequent cassette/Bandcamp round-up featuree). Osuch has re-teamed with the label for his self-titled debut, a deeply-personal “auditory narrative” that showcases his talent for crafting soundscapes (this time, featuring his vocals).

While largely ambient, DJAO introduces elements of jazz, footwork and even chopped-and-screwed music; Osuch cites inspiration from artists as varied as Brubeck and Benga.

DJAO will be released October 28 via digital retailers and Bandcamp, where limited edition cassette tapes will also be available. Until then, stream the album and read our enlightening interview with the producer below.

What inspired the album musically?

Musically, I’d say it stems from a few key contemporary electronic records: James Blake, Toro y Moi’s Causers of This, and Shlohmo’s Bad Vibes. Other musical influences include memorable moments at live shows, DJ sets where I felt the crowd and the track were perfectly fit, and a lot of the older R&B and jazz I listen to. I work from an island of major influences surrounded by a bottomless ocean of smaller (and often unknown) influences, like anyone else, and thankfully I believe the tracks go beyond whatever inspirational source I can identify.

What about non-musical inspirations?

Those include a major romantic relationship, an extremely exacting therapist, discovering the initial stages of genuine spirituality, learning to live with my dark side. Life stuff. I also took a lot of inspiration from physical spaces — interiors, rooms, architecture, and the emotional associations that form with them – and from film, literature, and TV shows. The title “Laura” refers to Laura Palmer (big surprise) but also to the character from Ann Beattie’s Chilly Scenes of Winter, and also to an actual person I’ve met. The list goes on.

The narrative-focused album seems to be in vogue — what are some of your favorites?

Not too many spring to mind, actually, in terms of albums explicitly presented as such. DJ Q-Bert’s Wave Twisters had a pretty big influence on me growing up, everything from the narrative to the production method to the movie, all of it blew my mind. Mm… Food, all of the MF DOOM records and side projects. More recently Groundislava’s Frozen Throne.

How did the idea of narrative affect DJAO?

I think the LP is essentially a narrative/conceptual form, whether or not the artist has some sort of blueprint going into the project. I wrote 75% of this LP before I understood the narrative that was taking shape. The line between an album with an unstated but excellent narrative (most good albums) and a “narrative album” is pretty thin.

What do you expect the listener’s experience with the album will be?

In my wildest dreams it will cause goose bumps by inducing a calming sense of emotional interrelatedness.

What are you looking forward to most this year, other than music?

Opportunities to substitute teach high school English; the complex emotional rollercoaster that is the holiday season; a bi-monthly reading series that I curate and host; the new season of The Eric Andre Show; more episodes of Desus vs. Mero.



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