Aotu – rhymes with “how to”! LA based electronic music producer Aotu gave an incredibly nice and open interview about his creativity, life in LA and his cat, Boli 🙂 He also created a special Mixtape for TunefulBlog (with a lot of unreleased stuff!), in which he covers all of his musical versatility.
Yana: Hi Aotu, I am really pleased to interview you today 🙂 There’s not much infos on you in social media, or maybe I’m not that good at stalking 😉 .. So, I guess I’ll just start with the basics: what is your name and how old are you? LOL
Aotu: Hey Yana! Thanks so much for your interest! My name’s Jack, and I’m 24
Yana: I’ve been reading your tweets these days and find the references of your roommate extremely funny 😀 Tell me a bit more about your day-to-day life in LA!
Aotu: My roommate’s the best! He’s a super talented visual artist. We met on Craigslist when I first moved out to LA a year ago, and lucky for us we became best friends! We both speak Mandarin and have similar artistic taste/politics, so it all fell in to place very naturally. I work at a music shop to pay the bills, and he goes to school full-time.
My other roommate is our fluffy cat, Boli! His name 玻璃 means “glass”. It’s because his eyes are super glassy. He’s practically a dog and he plays fetch and doesn’t know how to meow. I try to post his best antics on Snap and Instagram when I remember to!
I spend most of my time making music and exploring all kinds of art: photography, fashion, architecture, poetry, fiction, paintings, animations, scents, sculptures, food… it’s all magical! In a typical day I’ll set aside at least an hour to actively search for musical inspiration in museums, art books, and the world around me. I take a lot of macro texture photos for my website and Instagram as well! It’s my second favorite creative outlet, after music of course.
My roommate and I go to a ton of warehouse events on the weekends with our crew of friends, and we also and drive out to San Gabriel for spicy Chinese food as often as possible!
Yana: You also used to live in China and even your artist name was influenced by this culture?
Aotu: Yes! I lived in Beijing back in 2013, while I was taking a language program. I started studying Mandarin at the beginning of college and it’s become a big part of who I am. When I first saw the word Aotu written out, it instantly became my favorite word. 凹凸. It means “rough” or “rugged”, like a mountain trail or the warped asphalt in Koreatown, LA.
Yana: You’re so young and already so serious about music production. Have you always seen it as a career choice?
Aotu: Back in 2008 I stumbled across the burgeoning electronic scene on SoundCloud, and looking back, it completely flipped my trajectory. All I wanted was to know how the artists made those sounds! I started saving from my job at a local pizza shop, got myself some basic DJ gear, and soon enough I was playing parties for my friends! My appetite for new electronic music borderlined on insanity. I spend hours digging through SoundCloud and Beatport every day, listening to everything from Zedd to J:Kenzo, Amon Tobin to Arty. In college, I took a class on Ableton, and my favorite professor urged me to consider taking music seriously! It was the first time I’d really contemplated a future in music, but that little push was all I needed.
Yana: On your homepage I even saw, you offer film & tv scoring services! How is this side of music production goes for you so far?
Aotu: Yeah! I absolutely love over-the-top cinematic movie music, and I incorporate a lot of those inspirations into my own work. My song “Undertow” was recently used in an environmental documentary called “With The Winds”!
Yana: You’ve recently released a new single “Balloon” ft. Will Woodland – a beautiful Indie Electro Pop song! What is the story behind its creation?
Aotu: Will and I met at a giant music industry event here in LA, and we decided to write a song together! He’s a fantastic vocalist and producer, and one of the best studio partners I’ve ever had. Our styles are complementary, and our mutual respect for each other made the creative process a breeze.
The song itself is about a relationship that slipped through my fingers.
My versatility is paramount.
Yana: Your earlier works like “Undertow” and “Ambition” fall in a range of Bass Electronica music. What provokes this change of style? And is it a permanent change?
Aotu: Honestly, I don’t really see “Balloon” as a big change for me! The way I think of it, it’s almost a return to the creative place that bore my song “Alive” with Francesca Blanchard last fall. I pay close attention to make sure I feel that all of my music belongs under the same roof; that said, my versatility is paramount. I love making all sorts of music, and one of my biggest goals is to cover a wide enough stylistic breadth with these early releases that I can release any future song I create as Aotu without deviating from my current path. I want to constantly learn and grow, and I never want to trap myself creatively. I have a variety of songs coming out this fall, including a bunch of more experimental and cinematic bass tracks!
I’m constantly figuring out how my sound will continue to evolve, and how I can be my best. Nothing’s off limits!
Yana: How important for an artist to have one specific music genre nowadays?
Aotu: Can I choose “eclectronic” for my genre? For marketing and branding purposes, sticking to one style is valuable, so that the audience can associate the artist with an identifiable sound. Many of my favorite producers have recognizable sounds, but have allowed themselves the freedom to explore a range of styles. Take a few of the best-known examples… Flume, Diplo, and Zedd, for instance: all three of them are talented pop producers when they want to be, but they also release (relatively) experimental music and allow their collaborators to shape their sound! I want to afford myself that same freedom. At this stage, I’m constantly figuring out how my sound will continue to evolve, and how I can be my best. Nothing’s off limits!
Yana: And now five quick questions, to which you have to respond without reflecting to much 😉
– Cats or dogs?
– Cats that think they’re dogs! Hahaha
– Paris or LA?
– I’ve never been to Paris, but I love LA!!
– Marilyn Monroe or Angelina Jolie?
– Marilyn, because my mom loves Marilyn <3
– Favorite film?
– Gravity, because of the incredible sound. Best IMAX ever!
– Favorite drink?
– I could really go for a strawberry lemonade right now! This LA heatwave has been brutal!
1. Aotu – Undertow
2. Aotu – Ambition
4. Aotu – Alive (feat. Francesca Blanchard)
5. Aotu – Balloon (feat. Will Woodland)
7. Aotu – Wild Card
8. Aotu – Hive Mind