Made In Sweden: Otto Knows
When most people think of Sweden they think of the usual clichés: meatballs, blondes and reasonably priced furniture. Here at Data Transmission though, we aren’t most people and the first thing we think of when someone says Sweden is house music. The Swedish House Mafia may have brought Sweden to the attention of mainstream music fans in a way not seen since Abba via their chart topping exploits but they are far from the only talent to be coming out of the Scandinavian nation in recent times with a new wave of DJs and producers taking the world by storm. At the forefront of this global takeover bid is fast rising DJ and producer Otto Knows who has been moving dancefloors across the globe with his playful EDM enthused take on house music.
First coming to our attention in 2012 with his massive crossover hit ‘One Million Voices’ Otto is back with a brand new single bound to be all over the airwaves this summer in ‘Parachute’. With that in mind we caught up with Otto for a quick chat about the illustrious start to his career and more interestingly where he sees it going in the future. Otto Knows indeed.
Hey Otto, first things first, the name Otto Knows is very intriguing to a lot of your fans. Why did you decide upon the name Otto Knows?
It was actually me and Sebastian. Me and Sebastian were drunk and I came up with the name Otto Knows because there’s a Swedish DJ, a techno DJ, a minimal DJ called Oscar Can and he can and then I thought maybe I should be the one who knows, you know. That was actually the story and I’ve stuck around with it since then.
For anyone unaware with your style of DJing, would you care to tell us a bit more about it?
I’ve been involved with house music from the beginning so I like to keep it kind of groovy and dance friendly if you can say it like that. I like people to feel something, you know, and take them on some kind of journey. From something more danceable to something emotional to something people actually get goosebumps from. Something where the listener feels something and can look back upon and say “This evening was really something special”.
Obviously DJing is one of your biggest passions in life. When and how did you first get involved with DJing?
I have always been a big fan of the Swedish guys and I ran into them through Sebastian Ingrosso’s cousin Oliver. He introduced me to house music and since then it’s always been a part of my life. The style of house music is something that has always made me happy and never fails to get me in the party mood! I’ve been doing this since I was like 15 or 16!
To continue talking about your early career, where and when was your first gig and how did it go?
I think my first actual gig was on New Year’s Eve with Tiesto. Yeah, he invited me to play before him on the big stage. It was my first like official gig, if like, when someone actually brought me somewhere and it went really well actually. I’m a big fan of Tiesto and he’s always been a big supporter of mine so the feeling must be mutual!
Wow. That’s a big name to support on your first proper gig. How did it feel to work with Tiesto for your first gig?
Of course, it was a big thing, to play with one of the biggest DJ’s in the world. It felt goog because we were friends before so yeah, it felt natural but I’m really happy he brought me there.
It is no secret to everyone that you have made a lot of progression behind the decks since being taken under the wing of fellow Swedish DJ Sebastian Ingrosso. What has it been like to work with such an inspirational figure and what have you learnt from him?
You know, he taught me pretty much everything that I couldn’t figure out myself. He’s been a huge mentor in my career and he’s been supporting me both as a DJ and a producer. In the studio he’s been giving me guidelines and little tricks that he’s picked up over the years. He’s always there for me not only as a colleague but a friend; we’re like brothers so we’re not talking music all the time, we have each other like friends. Sebastian is like my big brother and I’m really close to him.
That’s what we like to hear! Some love in the industry! With regards to your production, how do you approach creating your music? What influences do you draw upon to help you?
I listen to a lot of different music, anything from radio to rock music. I’m really into Swedish rock music. I think that Swedish music is something that is quite special, it always puts the melodies as the focus and that’s what I’m trying to do too. I’m inspired by all kinds of music but I’m just having fun in the studio, that’s what I think it’s all about you know. You trying to create something quite new and I’m looking forward to every single day that I spend in the studio. I have so much fun just playing around. Sometimes when you really have to mix stuff, it can be quite tiring but it’s worth it, when it’s something that you’re really happy with.
Let’s talk about your crossover appeal. Your hit “Million Voices” is arguably your most successful track to date and many people would consider it your breakthrough release.. What are your thoughts on the success of this record and how has it impacted upon your career since?
It’s definitely made a huge impact upon my career, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that. It was something that I was really happy about and I’m really thankful for all the support. I am super happy to have made that record because I think it’s kind of unique in itself. But at the same time you have to move on as a producer and an artist and I can’t wait to make a lot more music and show people other stuff.
How do you feel that your processes and production have changed since that hit in 2012?
Quite a lot actually. I have become a lot more knowledgeable as music producer and more confident in the studio now I actually know what I am doing! I think I am more of a professor now when it comes to music although I think that I’m still in that kind of playfulness and I think it’s important that you never lose it, that kind of playfulness and try to create music without boundaries and try to do the unexpected, that’s what I’m capable of in that area.
Tell us more about your new release “Parachute.” What were your expectations for this release?
This track came about this year and I’m happy with the track. It was a brief that I came up with and then I sent it to my friend because I wanted to do something more with the track than just that aggressive kind of channel bassline so I sent it to my friend Simon who wrote this top line and then I changed the chorus and we went back and forth. In the end it became this track that I’m really happy with and I think was a bit unexpected and that’s what I tried to do to show people that I’m more than a normal DJ. I tried to do something a bit different and I’m really happy with the result and I think it doesn’t follow the EDM-Trance style so I’m happy with the result and I’m happy to do something a bit different to what I have been doing before.
How do you feel “Parachute” compares to “Million Voices” and do you feel it has the potential be as successful as your 2012 hit record?
To be honest, I don’t want to compare my records, they are two completely different songs and I’m not making music to hit the charts otherwise I wouldn’t make house music, I’d do pop music, like straight up pop music and try to sing or something. I’m just trying to create something new that fits into my sets and if that hits the charts then I’m happy but I’m not too sad if it doesn’t. There are more tracks for the clubs in my sets and I don’t expect anything in regards to the charts. I’m just going to make more music and see what’s going to come up.
With summer now here, what does the future hold for Otto Knows? Is there anything you can exclusively reveal to us?
The summer is a lot about touring in Europe and I’m really looking forward to playing at all the summer venues and all the festivals and stuff and but I’m still going to work a lot in the studio and I’ve got a lot of days off in the studio at the weekends so I’m really happy to bring some music in my next release when it’s finished.
Otto Know’s Parachute is out now. Check it out below.
Catch Otto as part of one his tour dates across Europe at:
Words: Matty Adams