As far as stars go in today’s electronic music landscape, Derry’s Or:la is most definitely on the fast track to being an unquestioned headline name worldwide.
Since her breathtaking performance at AVA’s Boiler Room last year she has taken the world at large by storm through her vast collection of music that she showcases in sets across the globe week after week, accompanied by some of the biggest names in the business.
Rather than resting on her laurels and expecting everything to come her way, she has developed her label, Deep Sea Frequency along the way, as well as releasing one of the most interesting EPs of last year, ‘Farewell 24’, via UK powerhouse Hotflush.
On top of all that, she is a staple on basically all of the upcoming summer festival lineups, and has solidified her position as one of the most unpredictable acts on the go with her new Boiler Room in Moscow, where she shared the lineup with the modest bunch of Derrick May, Overmono, Truss and more.
The world is most definitely her oyster, and she has it firmly grasped in her two hands.
How have the past few months been? Has it been difficult to adjust to life on the road, you’re playing so frequently now.
“The past few months have been hectic but amazing. I don’t mind travelling solo and it’s great to be able to see a different country every weekend, even if that has to be done alone.
I’ll get to see Japan and Seoul on a mini Asia tour, two places I’ve always wanted to visit. I’m so grateful to be able to do travel while doing something that I love as a career.”
How did you prepare for your second Boiler Room given the impact of your first one? Was it hard to follow up such a big set?
“The physical settings for both Boiler room sets were very different, so it meant I could approach my more recent set at a different angle. The AVA festival set was more party vibes, recorded on a sunny day in June, whereas the second Boiler Room was quite the opposite; a night time set within an industrial warehouse in the heart of Moscow in winter. This meant I could explore and delve into a more darker side to my music taste.”
DJ Seinfeld is releasing on Deep Sea Frequency soon which is really exciting and you gave a sneak peak of one of his tracks in your BR. How did that release come about?
“I first met DJ Seinfeld a couple of years ago when I booked him to play at a party I ran in Liverpool called Meine Nacht. We got on really well from the beginning and have stayed friends since. After exchanging music on a regular basis, he sent me a couple of tracks that he knew would be up my street, so we decided to release these on the label. I’m really happy to have him on board.”
What are your plans for Deep Sea Frequency going forward, is there a particular sound you’re looking to push?
“There was never a set ‘sound’ for the label, as we don’t want to create boundaries. The most recent EPs have channeled breakbeat and electro vibes, but who knows what will come after that.
A big part of running the label is to be able to give talented under the radar/up and coming producers a platform to release their music on (alongside some bigger names). So in an industry where it is so hard to get noticed, we’re always on the look out for fresh talent.”
You’re somewhat more well known for your DJ sets than you are for your productions even though you have had numerous releases on Hotflush and on your own label too. How do you find that, do you think it’s good in terms of people going with an open mind to your sets not expecting one single track or sound, or is it difficult to push a more particular sound that you have in mind?
“I like the fact that people don’t really know what to expect when going to see me play live. Some producers suddenly have a big hit which then defines them musically, and leads to an expectation of a certain sound within their sets which could sometimes result in disappointment if they don’t deliver that sound or a particular track at a gig.
Generally my productions are pretty different to my DJ sets. They go a lot deeper and I feel they have a more sombre and atmospheric tone. I don’t feel obliged to make a party hit, not any time soon anyway.”
Where did your breakbeat style come from? Both your tracks and sets really fit into an area that isn’t being explored by many bar yourself and the likes of DJ Normal 4 and a few others.
“I really love jungle and old school D n’B, so it probably stemmed from this. When I first got into music production, I had a real obsession with the Amen break. I would spend hours on end sourcing different breaks, experimenting and manipulating them in different ways. There’s just something about breakbeat that always ignited a real passion within me.”
With your sound, you fit into a lot of lineups between house and techno, how useful is that in terms of exposing your sound to different audiences?
“If I don’t feel like playing house or techno. I enjoy the task of switching up the tempo or changing the mood around, so it doesn’t really impact on my set that much.”
What’s it like coming from Derry rather than Belfast? Celtronic and Jika Jika! are particularly big in Derry but what’s it like growing up as a electronic music fan in Derry?
“I’m so proud to say that I’m from Derry, it’s such an interesting place on many levels. Growing up as a dance music fan in Derry was exciting. I remember having a fake motorcycle ID and going to see acts like Hot chip when I was about 16 or 17.
Celtronic, which is a local festival organisation and club night have supported me from the very beginning and have recently been instrumental in nurturing up and coming talent through opening their own studio space, in which people of all ages/capabilities can rent out and use high end equipment or learn about djing/production/hardware.
From as far back as I can remember, Celtronic we’re always pulling in world class lineups so that electronic music fans in the city would only need to step outside their front door to experience hearing these acts live.”
The new crop of stars in electronic music like yourself, DJ Seinfeld, Mall Grab, Sulta, Peggy Gou, FJAAK and more are all quite easy going and relatable people. Do you think that those sort of figures will make dance music more approachable to the general public, rather than a host of turtle neck, all black wearing DJs?
“I feel that we are slowly moving away from this idea. Dance music was created out of love and inclusivity, and I think that this new, younger wave of DJs really understand and appreciate that. I also think it’s important to be grateful for our fan base which ultimately allows us to play music as a living.”