Opiuo: 5 things I’ve learned about music production

Hailing from New Zealand, Opiuo (AKA Oscar Davey-Wraight) produces fun-filled bass music and has performed alongside everyone from Bassnectar to MC Hammer. He performs both on his own, with his setup of drum machines and synths, and as part of The Opiuo Band, which plays his music 100% live.

His latest single, Ginger Lizard, serves as a precursor to a new EP called SYZYGY 01, which will be released on 2 March. We asked Opiuo to come up with five pieces of advice that producers should heed.

1. Turn off your worldly connections

“Distractions are productivity’s worst nightmare. Especially social media, phone calls and texts. I turn off my phone or leave it in another room all the time to help me get in the zone. It keeps my mind clear and allows me to get lost in the music.

“It’s also good to not look at your phone right when you wake up. If you can afford not to, don't look at it until after you have had your food/coffee, relaxed your mind, and started in the studio for the day. It helps keeps the mind in a positive flow, and you’ll already be off enjoying being creative by the time the world is in touch. You'll be much much more likely to smash it!”

2. Experiment with things you think might not work

“Sometimes the most mundane, weird, strange, crazy, adventurous processes turn out to be the best. They can often give you an incredible idea to start with, or something that makes a song unique, as quite possibly no one has tried it exactly like you before. If someone says ‘that won’t work’, go ahead and try it anyway. Because you never know - it just might work for you.

“I’ve experienced this a lot first hand; many of my processes are not ‘typical’, and I feel they’ve directly helped me to find many moments of incredible inspiration.”

3. Don’t look at the clock

“Good things take time and music is no exception. Sometimes it’ll take an hour; sometimes days; sometimes weeks; even months to finish. Inspiration and a clear head can strike so randomly - enjoy the process and do not let your mind get bogged down by how long anything takes. It’s irrelevant. Do not compromise. Sometimes, a mix can happen instantly, and sometimes the same thing could take what seems like forever. And that is totally fine. Don’t rush it. The end product is all that matters.”

4. Trust your ears

“As much as I can, I try to mix with my ears before looking at any meters. I also place my feet on my sub and have it turned down very low to get a feel of the relationship between the kick and bass. I find looking at too many graphs and meters can conflict the mind into thinking ideas you are happy with could be totally wrong, when in fact they are all OK and awesome. As long as the room you’re mixing in is balanced and correct you should trust your ears as much as you can. It’s essential to have a good mix, but some of the most vibe -filled music has interesting mix choices that still really work.”

5. Be yourself

“There are already so many producers out there, so don’t try too hard to become the next ‘whoever’. Be inspired by those around you, their sounds, their frequencies, but try your hardest to inject what you do with as much of yourself as possible. If you like something, roll with it. Dive deep into why you are here making music in the first place - what is it that you enjoy about making those air particles move. Imagine your kind of dancefloor, your kind of sunrise, your kind of street party, your kind of whatever. Add that energy and vibe and make it your own!”

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.