After carefully listening to various OKO DJ mixes, the immediately apparent eccentric creativity and attention to eclectic selection gripped our ears, and the excitement of catching his set at Intonal Party in the Swedish city of Malmö began to bubble.
As the festival prepares to launch its 2022 edition – which will run from April 20-24 and will feature artists such as DJ Bone, Hiro Kone, Grouper, WaqWaq Kingdom and Space Afrika, among many others – we have had the opportunity to ask OKO DJ a few questions about his practice as a DJ and recent events in his life.
Principal member of the Paris branch of LYL Radioa station featuring the best music and acts in France now broadcast in many major French cities, OKO DJ recently handed over the operation of the radio to others and moved into a new home in Athens, a city widely seen as a new hub for music and culture in Europe.
In this interview, OKO DJ sheds light on LYL Radio’s operations, its conceptual practices as a DJ, particularly with regard to the natural environment and its influences on its programming, and offers some tips for visitors to the capital of Greece.
Interview by Freddie Hudson
"Different environments — nature versus a club, day versus light — inspire me in different ways"
Hello everyone! Thank you for answering our questions, as the Intonal festival approaches! Have you ever participated in the festival?
Thank you for. Yes, I played the 2020 edition of INTONAL, and it’s a great memory. I am very happy to be back.
The last two years haven’t been great for the festival circuit, but it seems like we’re slowly getting back to where we were before the pandemic – is Intonal your first festival performance in a while?
Not really, I played a few really alternative festivals last summer that weren’t online or anything. I had the chance to see incredible live performances in super beautiful natural environments.
That said, INTONAL is going to be the first indoor festival I’m going to play, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a completely different atmosphere than the psychedelic gatherings in the countryside that I’ve been able to do so far.
Do you have any subtle hints as to how you plan this set differently than your outside sets? Will you lean more towards a harder dancefloor, or is that already part of those country festival sets?
I tend to play a lot more instrumental music (as opposed to electronic music) in outdoor country settings. The way I see it is that different environments – nature versus a club, day versus light – inspire me in different ways.
When nature is part of the setting, I like to offer the music in a more “delicate” way, to ensure that nature still has plenty of room to exist and a big role to play in the experience, whereas in a closed space like a club where I definitely lean towards a more tense and frontal musical selection.
We captured some of your recent mixes online and really loved your eclectic approach to sound selections. Has it always been part of your “sound”, or is it something you have assimilated into your sets after years of exploration?
It has certainly always been part of my modus operandi. It’s actually something that might tend to fade with experience over the years. It’s a bit the same thing with music production: the more you gain in knowledge and experience, the more you can lose in innocence and freshness. So keeping recklessness alive is definitely what I keep in mind in my selections.
"Intonal is a mecca for experimental sounds, so I'm definitely gonna allow myself to dig pretty deep on that side"
How do you prepare your set at Intonal? Is this more or less how you prepare for a typical gig, or do you pack the secret weapons and energy bombs?
It’s hard for me to answer now, because I usually prepare for a concert a few days in advance. Thus, my selection is of course influenced by the place, the context, etc., but also by my mood and my energies of the moment. Hard to say what April will look like for me! Nevertheless, Intonal is the Mecca of experimental sounds, so I’ll definitely allow myself to dig quite deep on this side.
We saw that you recently converted to Athens, which seems to be a new hotbed for underground music. What are your tips for the city?
I would recommend the following: the small but mighty Astron Helm, Ela Na Sou Po, Hollywood bar in Syntagm. And for the biggest clubs: romance, PTXand Temple. There are also very nice raves from time to time, but it’s up to everyone to find out!
What made you move in the first place? Your former home in Paris is hardly devoid of a colorful music scene.
After more than 6 years, it was the end of my story with Paris I guess. I am someone who often needs new energy, new challenges, new faces, and also a new culture. And, since I had developed LYL Radio in Paris enough to let it grow without me, I decided to join my partner in Athens and move on. I am extremely happy to have made this decision, because my love for this city grows more every day.
Finally, we want to know more about your involvement with LYL Radio – was it your own business or something you were helping? What did you learn with the project, and maybe you can share some of your favorite artists from the broadcast you’ve been involved in?
LYL Radio was created by Lucas Bouisson in Lyon, where the radio now broadcasts from Lucas’ own restaurant in the center: Senior Bistro. Definitely a nice stop if you are in town.
I started the Paris department of LYL Radio shortly after its launch in Lyon and ran it for 5 years, with the help of Lucas and a small team of volunteers. When I moved to Greece, I stopped managing the Paris department of LYL and gave the project to volunteers, so now it’s more collaborative management in Paris.
LYL also started broadcasting from Marseille more recently, and from Brussels, so the project is definitely gaining momentum and it’s super nice for me to see the energies renewing from where I am.
I am extremely grateful for what LYL has brought me during these 5 years at the direction of the Parisian station: a lot of joy, incredible music, meeting new artists and being at the center of the Parisian scene, a good radio experience and studio, and beautiful memories in the different studios we had. Congratulations to the Dizonord record store in Paris.
To conclude, I would like to thank all the people who have been involved in any way in the LYL project. Here is a short list of some of my favorite residents/shows: Bizarre Love, Herbe à Chat, The Pilotwings’ Penequet, Cardoïde, Son of Immigrant, Feng Shit, Prince Dragon, Golce Gabbana, Radio Prr! Prr!, Children of Nineties…
Inverted Audio is an official media partner of Intonal 2022. Stay tuned for announcements and features.
OKO DJElectronicExperimental intonal