Ever since I discoveredOnra’s, super producer from France, latest offering Long Distance…I’ve been knockin’ that album on repeat something serious. As one of my new favorite producers, I had to track him down for an interview and really see who the man is behind this madness. He’s a super cool down to earth dude that genuinely loves music. Here’s how it went…..
When did you first get into beats and how has the environment in Paris contributed to your tracks? I started making beats in 99/00, right before moving to Paris. It became more serious when I moved to the big city cause I had more time for me, I was living by myself, so I could manage my time schedule as I wanted. Also, I met a lot of different people who taught me about Hip-Hop and music in general.
What was the process behind your latest LP, Long Distance, and how long was the journey from start to finish? I started it in 2008 with the “My Comet” beat, it’s part of a series of beats I made in spring 2008, most of them ended on the album, and this is how I started. It took me a while to finish cause I was on tour quite often and I really wanted to dedicate some time and focus on this one, so I needed to be free from any distraction.
How did the collaboration between yourself and T3 come about for the first single? It’s not the first single, it’s the second one. We released a 12″ three months ago with “Long Distance” (ft. Olivier Daysoul) on one side and “High Hopes” (ft. Reggie B) on the other one. We just didn’t mak a video for those tracks. Olivier and Reggie are two artists that I love, and I met them before, we’ve been working together before those tracks. It wasn’t the case with T3, who is one of my idols, as being a member of the original Slum VIllage crew. It was really something I wanted to do, and All City gave me the opportunity. I haven’t met T3 in person, only at shows, the collaboration happenned on the Internet.
Is this your first album on All City Records? How is that relationship working out between the two of you? Yes it’s my first album on All City and that’s their first album ever as well. They only released 12″ and EP until “Long Distance”. The relationship is full of trust and respect. Olan does it for the love of music and I like people who think this way.
Name a beat that every time you hear it makes you say “Damn, I wish I would’ve made that.” There’s a lot… Here’s one of them: Slum Village “2U4U”(produced by Jay Dee)
What is the hip hop/beat scene like in Paris? There’s a lot of talent here, but there’s no scene yet, it’s coming together slowly, maybe it’ll happen in a year or so, but so far, Paris, and France in general, is a little bit on what’s happenning in this genre. Even though Hip-Hop is really big.
Tell us a little bit about the equipment you use. Are you a gear junkie? I only use the Akai MPC 1000. I have Cubase as well, which I use for virtual synthesizers when I need some… and that’s it basically. A couple of synths, nothing too serious. I wish I could be a gear junkie, but money is short to invest in that for now, and I live in a tiny apartment, I don’t have space enough to stack those.
What is your wishlist of MC’s that you would like to work with? Again, there’s a lot… I would randomly say: Andre 3000, Bahamadia, Lord Finesse, Foreign Beggars, Ta’Raach, Phonte, etc… This list is endless…
Which do you prefer, being on stage or in the studio? And speaking of stages….when can we expect to see an Onra show here in London? I like both. Being on stage is still new to me, I’ve been touring for about two years now, but I’m enjoying it more and more. I love being at my crib though, this is the place I feel the best on earth.
I guess you can expect a show in London around September… If not, early 2011 maybe… I was suposed to play at Plastic People, but couldn’t make it happen cause of their situation. So I hope to be back again, it’s been two years since I played there, first time was at Nuts To Soup party.
The music industry has been turned upside down over the last few years due to technology. What are your thoughts on the current state of the industry? I don’t think Music should be free, that’s all I can say. There’s hundreds of people trying to find a solution to this problem, but they haven’t come up with any good idea so far. All I can say is that, we are underground artists, we don’t sell that much music, and in order to keep on doing what we do, we need people to buy the music to support, just like it has always been. We can’t be on the road, doing gigs all the time, and we don’t collect enough money from that either. People really have to understand that. I know a lot of listeners and so-called music lovers are true bootleggers, and they don’t give a damn about our situations.
Do you remember the first beat you ever played for someone? What was their reaction? I don’t remember no, that was too long ago…
How many beats do you make per week on average? How many do you throw away (if any at all)? That depends on the cycle I’m in, sometimes I barely make something for a month, and the next one I can make 60 beats or so…
Tell us one of your longterm goals. I’d like to know how to play the piano to compose more and sample less. That’s one of my goals in music. A goal in life would be, just owing a house, or an apartment.
Is it true you’re a vinyl junkie? How many records do you have in your collection? What’s the most you’ve ever spent on one record? I’m a junkie cause I buy vinyls every week, and when I’m outside of Paris, the only thing I want to do is going to the record store. But in terms of an amount, I don’t have that much, about 2000. This can’t even been called a collection, but how I am supposed to buy more records if I’m broke? Especially here in Paris, where records are crazy expensive. The most I spent on a record gotta be around 50€. I spent that several times.