Oleka are a new band fusing genres, with an electronic and pop sensibility, overlaid with rich, harmonised, and infectious vocal melodies to make music that is both catchy and subtle, danceable and subdued. Their unique sound has quickly been gaining them attention amongst the London music scene. I caught up with Joe and Sam to find out more about Oleka and the music they’re calling ‘night music’.
Hey guys, what have you been up to lately?
Joe: Playing as much as we can at the moment. We’re writing and demoing hard with the view to getting more stuff out later this year.
How did you come to start making music together as Oleka?
Sam: We all played music together before, and it felt right to start something new and fresh.
What’s your writing process like?
Joe: Its getting more and more collaborative. Sam or I will get a sketch down and then we’ll all work on making it an Oleka song in a room together, then after some playing we’ll track out a demo as a band. It seems to be working so far.
Sam: The demos definitely come to life when we work on them together. We’re a proper unit.
What are the things that influence your music; are there any particular bands and artists, or other art forms that inspire you?
Joe: Drake and jazz.
Sam: London is an influence.
How do you find being a band in a big city like London; are there more opportunities, more competition, both?
Joe: I think we’ve all lived in London long enough not to know what it would be like to be a band elsewhere – it’s a bitter sweet thing. It’s horrible and expensive and you can feel it slowly trying to maul you but I couldn’t live anywhere else right now. This weekend I’m helping set up a free party Friday, opening for a Chicago house legend for a Saturday day street party, and we’re putting on our own show in a record store Sunday with some mates. London is great.
Sam: It definitely shapes the tracks – we’re really trying to channel everything into the songs, so the big city is something that we try to use positively.
You’ve recently started playing live; do you have a preference between writing and recording, and playing in a live setting?
Joe: I’m loving playing live at the moment. Its been a while, but on stage it feels really natural and healthy right now.
I recently read a piece on you that described your music as ‘night music’; is this something you strive towards and try to maintain, or is there room for spontaneity in your sound?
Sam: ‘Night music’ is the feeling that just comes naturally in our songs – everything we make seems to have a darkness to it, even the more upbeat tracks. I think spontaneity comes when we’re writing – we play with a really wide range of sounds and ideas before settling on something, so we’re not really restricted in any way.
One thing that really stood out to me when listening to you is your rich use of vocals, giving your music a very full sound; how important do you feel the vocals are both lyrically and musically?
Joe: Hey, thanks. Sam and I have super different voices and came to them in quite different ways, I guess. It’s just learning how to use what you have.
Sam: The vocals are really important I think, we both try and be as honest as possible in the songs (lyrically) – so each track is pretty intimate. It can be pretty uncomfortable baring all in the songs but it’s important to stay true.
What are your lyrical influences? Is there a specific theme you enjoy exploring, and stick to?
Joe: All our songs came from the last few years. We seem to write about stuff that makes us feel or want to write – and, I guess what people have always written about – love, sex, death, drugs, etc – where we live and what we do there.
There seems to be a resurgence in electronic bands over the last few years; do you think this has anything to do with the widening accessibility to electronic music software, a natural growing appreciation of the genre the more it is put in the limelight, or is it something entirely different?
Sam: I don’t know about electronic but there’s been a definite shift towards more of a pop sound – I think bands are trying to be more direct. I don’t know why though, these things go in circles and it’s always shifting.
Joe: I think our production and textures are influenced in part by UK dance styles, which is probably where the electronics come from.
And finally, in an ideal world, what’s the goal with Oleka?
Joe: To leave our wallets in El Segundo.
Well, I wish you the best of luck with that. Thanks guys!