An Interview With The North Carolina-Based Band, OCNS on New Music, The Musical-Political Climate and More!
Posted On 24 Jul 2018
With the days heating up now, North Carolina’s OCNS provide the perfect summer hit, with their new single “You” recently released! The talented six-piece outfit brings together infectiously catchy melodies, sizzling vocals, and passionate lyrics for a blockbuster of a tune that will have you dancing all summer long. All Things Go premeired the track, describing it as, “Layers of electronic sheets stack ever so slightly, teasing a pending ebb and flow of viscous groove that pulls us in like a riptide.”
“The meaning behind the song really lies in the notion of realizing that there are some things and people you would be truly willing to do anything for,” shared the band. “Even if those things are not healthy for you, and potentially even toxic, you may know the truth subconsciously, but yearning for someone or something can drown that out.” Passionate and edgy, the band’s music reflects the lyric’s lustful thirst, with a melody that is irresistibly infectious to get you dancing, even in heat of the midday sun.
“Inspiration really came from wanting to create a song we couldn’t help but move and dance to, as well as just being a foot towards the right direction of sound we want to move towards. The song has a summer sound, stemming from a demo of a previous song we had written, before Andrew (vocals) joined the band. We changed the chords a bit, and added whole new section after Andrew developed the chorus in a matter of minutes when hearing the progression at 3 AM in our practice space.”
First formed in 2012, the band has undergone a number of line-up changes and developments. Determined and devoted, OCNS finally found their perfect niche, with their current line-up clicking cohesively like never before. OCNS is made up of Grandy (Drums), Esdras (Bass), Isaac (Keys), Drew (Guitar), David (Guitar) and Andrew (Vocals). Time allowed growth and change, but most importantly the opportunity to arrive at the right place in the right moment. Six years have passed, and in that time OCNS have grown from three members to six; finally becoming complete. With six unique perspectives, OCNS meld haunting tones of ambience, melodic tones of alt-rock, and top it off with indie-style and pop sensibility.
“You” follows the band’s previous single “If I’m A Ghost,” released earlier this year, showcasing the groups collective talent and immense potential. Both tracks were recorded at Archer Avenue Studio in Columbia, South Carolina, with engineer Kenny McWilliams. With each member bringing their own perspectives and tastes, OCNS melds together a variety of influences, blending elements of pop hooks, R&B grooves, ambient tones, and alternative rock and indie style. The group has smashed onto the scene, and will be one to watch as they surge forth with new music. “You” is available for stream and purchase on Spotify, Bandcamp, Apple Music, and all major digital retailers today.
Learn more about OCNS in the following All Access interview here:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Of course! Thanks for being willing to talk to us, Leah! Just another Monday for the boys, going to work, Esdras getting drunk cause he doesn’t have to work today, working on music, making some dinner, maybe watch a good movie… you know, Monday things.
All Access Music is currently compiling a list of our artists favorite songs this summer so what is YOUR song of the summer?
Our favorite would be probably have to be “Short Court Style” by Natalie Prass. Her whole new album is great, but that song has been the pump up anthem before shows. Infectious bass line.
How has 2018 been treating you all? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year?
2018 has been treating us really well as a band! Individually, we all have our life things to deal with, but it’s been a lot better than 2017 overall. We really wanted to play some great shows, our first shows back as a full band, and we accomplished that and then some. We had a little weekend run of shows in May that was really a spark to put in more work and reach to do the smaller things things we’ve been meaning to accomplish for the whole past year. For the future, we are really looking forward to putting together a more substantial and cohesive project, but it’s definitely still in the writing stages.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Has anything surprised you about this ride so far?
It wasn’t so much one single moment as it was many small ones over a long period of time. Most of us have been friends for ages, and music became so ingrained in our lives despite not being from musical families or backgrounds that I think we are inseparable from it. Even if we ended up not doing this band as an official thing, we’d still be making music together just to create it and get better. There were some bigger moments, like learning what it’s like to record in a studio, rather than a used car dealership backroom or an abandoned tattoo shop, or playing our first show with bands that we looked up to that really showed us normal people do this stuff everyday.
We’ve definitely been surprised by the amount of time it takes to do things, the amount of patience it takes to do things the “right” way, the amount of great days we’ve had playing with our best friends, and then the amount of days you have where you just want nothing to do with it all and keep your head down. You definitely find yourself in situations you never thought could even happen, like being completely embarrassed in front of an engineer for having a temporary member not be prepared in the booth, or having some random guy flash a gun from the waistband of his sweatpants while trying to track guitars because the owner of the building owed him money and he just got out of jail and the payments he was sending were getting spent somewhere else…Weird days, but we still got the job done.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
It’s hard to say- a lot of the time cities just naturally have their sound that seeps into the local music scene over a particular time period, but we don’t really play heavily in a scene within Raleigh. There isn’t really a pop scene to be spoken of and we grew up playing metal and post-hardcore shows and, to this day, we still get offers to get put on those type of shows. We have yet to really find the pocket we feel we fit into, so we’ve kind of just been doing our thing. There are and were a few local groups we looked up to and loved to play with, but it’s been a long time. We try to carry ourselves in a way that seems like we know what we’re doing, when really we are just experimenting and trying to see what works for us.
Where did your band name first come from? How did you go about picking it? Was it a hard decision to make?
In the past we went by a different name, but quickly found that other bands, past and present, had used the name or something similar. From there, we decided to distance ourselves from it entirely, and go with OCNS. It fit a change in sound we were undergoing, just from natural growth as a band, and was not difficult to find. Once, one person suggested it, it clicked, and no one was opposed to it.
Let’s talk about your latest single “You.” What was the inspiration for this track? How do you think it compares with anything else you have released before?
The track is a reworked track that we had back before we met our vocalist, Andrew, and it was inspired kind of by the thought of a nocturnal drive through city lights, with the song serving as the music to blast with the windows down. Once it was changed to fit to where we were more recently as a band, as well as with Andrew’s personal style added into the mix, it became a bit less lowkey and became more dancey and confident. Lyrically, it came from a place of finding a new infatuation with someone, having them always be in your thoughts, even leading you down some somewhat dark path. That kind of developed into the idea that any deep infatuation with someone or something could become unhealthy if you begin to ignore your surroundings or stop listening to your body and when it’s telling you to slow down, even if you don’t want to. “You” is quite a bit different from “If I’m A Ghost” and we did want to do that in order to begin showcasing how much our musical interests span and change, and overall the large amount of space we hope to cover in the future, sonically. Some people like “IIAG” more because of the way it drives and how it’s a bit more rocky, though many say they love “You” cause it’s got a weird RnB and jazz undertone to the pop dance feel.
When do you hope to release more new music and a full album of new songs?
That is exactly what we hope to do next: release a longer, more cohesive project that can help us carve out exactly where we want to go with our sound, and help us push ourselves to experiment some more. See what we’re really capable of. We are still in the very early process of writing and demoing, but hopefully before 2019, this will be all falling into place.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing, or elsewhere?
Drew is happiest in the studio, writing things on the spot, getting to hear all the sounds that have been played at practice come into their fullest, most complete form is a thrill. David HATES tracking, but enjoys trying out new sounds and equipment, but his true love is performing. Isaac is also a studio man, really enjoying the writing process, focusing his energy on making sounds melt together, tracking with analog synths, and creating weird noises and edits for texture. Grandy doesn’t mind tracking, as frustrating as nailing drum parts can be, but he loves to be killing it live. Esdras lives for the show, as his studio parts are usually done between one and two takes, though he writes with other members of the band throughout the process. Andrew is also a live performer, always ready to kill a performance, especially after putting in painstaking hours inside of a vocal booth to perfect recordings.
Do you have any upcoming tour dates this summer that you would like to tell our readers about?
We are playing in Greenville, SC on July 20th and Charlotte, NC on the 21st, at The Radio Room and The Rabbit Hole respectively. We’ll be sharing the stage with our good friends in Real Work (from Columbia, SC) in support of their recent EP release. Definitely check that out if your a fan of Death Cab for Cutie, Bon Iver, or good cathartic indie rock in general. Other than that, we only have things that have yet to be announced.
How do you think being musicians and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today?
Sometimes practice and playing music is the only thing that we have to look forward to. It’s definitely escapism for us, but it gives us something that we can work on and set finite goals in. Goals that we can reach and grow from, and that’s important because it gives us a sense of progression. Stagnation is scary and we can’t all control what’s going on in our real lives besides scrambling to try and keep a roof over everybody’s heads. It has been one of the few constants in our lives and in that way it has generated joy, a safe place, and something we constantly and realistically improve upon. Every Friday or Saturday we get together to reiterate what we’ve done already, look towards the future, and then allow ourselves to experiment and create something new. Who knows where we’d all be and how unhappy we’d all be without having each other to push ourselves towards a life we will enjoy every day.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
Can’t say we’ve woven any political commentary into our music thus far, but also cannot say that it won’t make an appearance in the future. I don’t think it will every have a prominent role in our music because, with six different opinions in the band, not everyone agrees on every point, but we do all share some political standpoints. All of the talk of DACA and immigration reform has definitely hit home for us, given that some of our members and their families are immigrants to the US. It was inspiring to see lots of artists, like MUNA, speak up for what they believed in when that was all in the news.
I would say that music has been on an upswing of including both outright opposition and subtle confrontation to political controversies, ranging from Stray From the Path’s constant and classic leftist punk attitude (see False Flag) alongside other metal/punk bands like Architects and IDLES, Father John Misty’s pessimistic views of the future of society (Pure Comedy), Childish Gambino certainly making huge waves with “This Is America,” all the way to Frank Ocean talking about Trayvon Martin’s shooting in his opener to Blonde, “Nikes.” I wish i knew of some more recent/popular examples, but I think that there is certainly a disconnect between the way things are going and the way people want their world to be, and that’s become very prevalent in modern music.
Who would you love to work with in the future? Who are some of your favorite artists right now? What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this group?
Working with James Blake on a more glitchy, electronic type song would be absolutely crazy for us. Collaborating with the Mutemath guys would also be crazy, given how creative they are on the spot, for a more anthemic song. Our favorite artists right now are Japanese House, The Midnight, Natalie Prass, Nao, HONNE, Zoology, and Radiohead. If we ever got the chance to meet Radiohead, I’d frickin’ cry, dude.
If you guys were all going to be stranded on a deserted island, what musical item would you want to take with you and why?
We would probably have to just bring acoustic guitars! Isaac said he’d just have to learn how to play cause keyboards are not happening out there and drums of any kind would get super boring after about a week. You can actually write songs and play together with no power with acoustic guitars and they’d last as long as we didn’t use em as firewood. Esdras said he’d bring a stand up bass to keep all his food in. And play bass too.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs? Where can our readers connect with you?
I think we are still in the process of discovering what to say now that we’ve figured out how we want to say things at all. We hope that people will be able to take what we’ve made as a small example of what anyone can do as far as taking their creativity and doing something with it goes. Maybe people can relate to what we say, or just dance along to the music.
We are very active on Instagram, both as a band and on our personal accounts, as well as Facebook, and email. Of course, we’ll talk to anyone at shows! We often run into people we know at local concerts and events, and that’s always great.
(All photography provided by Behind The Curtains Media)