(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #406: Otzeki

By on Tuesday, 6th March 2018 at 12:00 pm

NB: I wrote about Otzeki and three other acts scheduled to perform at SXSW 2018 in the Music in the Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW 2018, which you can read here.

We know plenty of siblings in bands: The Staves, Field Music, Tegan and Sara, just to name three. The members of Otzeki, on the other hand, are cousins. Mike Sharp (vocals, guitar) and Joel Roberts (keyboards, Ableton) are the East Anglia-bred, London-based duo, part of the burgeoning electronic slash rock slash pop genre sweeping Britain at the moment. Next week, they’ll be appearing at SXSW 2018, making their debut appearance in Austin. Impeccable timing: from there, it will be a month to the release of their first studio album, ‘Binary Childhood’, on their own label Discophorus.

The start of their story goes something like this. Independently and oddly the same exact week, Sharp and Roberts travelled to Berlin, arguably the heart of electronic music in this world. Sharp says Roberts “was always pretty clued up on the electronic stuff, though. He knew all the worthwhile parties and DJs so brought me into that whole scene when I was back in London… It was uncanny [we were there at the same time] and there was a big mutual feeling of needing to make something together and so we did, after Berlin.” I know the saying is “necessity is the mother of invention”, but surely inspiration (and passion) is merely second to necessity. The pair initially turned heads in the UK with their 2016 debut EP ‘Falling Out’. The four-track release featured the super catchy ‘Hope in Hell’, which successfully combines vocals oozing a beautiful desolation with a driving beat.

Other exemplary singles, such as ‘True Love’ and ‘All This Time’, and EP ‘Sun is Rising’ followed in 2017, all showing their adeptness in fusing irrepressible electronic beats, r&b infused vocals, and alt-rock guitar into something truly intriguing. A short time ago, they released their newest single ‘Pay the Tax’, which starts with a chill rhythm but soon morphs into more layered, brasher sound as the song hurtles towards its conclusion. Sharp admits that lyrically, it’s a rare political moment for me. “I’m pretty A-political [sic] in the sense that I’m interested in humanity, politics has become automatically associated with economics and business and humanity should come before that.” Currently being spun on BBC Radio 1, it’s a promising taster to the upcoming ‘Binary Childhood’, which has been promised to be a record “driven by rhythm, that takes their previous use of electronic loops and infuses them with more organic sounds and live percussion.” I, for one, can’t wait for both their live appearances in Austin and the tuneage that will be available to us on the 13th of April.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, Otzeki’s appearances in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

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