[Q&A] Ookay is Here to Steal Your Heart
[Q&A] Ookay is Here to Steal Your Heart

Continuing to blaze his way through dancefloors across the globe, the untouchable Ookay prepares to bring his genre-bending, speaker-flexing, bass-busting sound to the Bassrush takeover of the Exchange next Thursday, July 28.

With a larger-than-life personality that buzzes with a passion that can be felt both in person and on social media, the San Diego native continues to impress as he moves from style to style, continually expanding genre boundaries in bass music while always staying true to his love of the game. Having blitzed his way to the top in solo and collaborative mode, Ookay’s prowess in the studio has found him working with everyone from Diplo and Showtek on through to more recent trap-tinged killers with the homies Getter, YDG, and Yultron.

With his latest single, “Thief,” bringing on the feels and blowing up on the dancefloor, we thought we’d check in with the one like Ookay to get a sense of where he’s coming from and where’s he’s planning to take us in the future.

The world has its problems, but we shouldn’t let that make us give up on the world. We need to educate the youth and learn to use peaceful methods to make a difference.

You grew up in San Diego, right? What kind of music were you listening to growing up?
Technically Chula Vista, but yeah, good ol’ San Diego. I grew up listening to jazz and gospel music more than anything. My parents were in choir and in a band so I was influenced a lot by being around them. I grew up seeing firsthand how creative you can be as a musician and working off the top of your head.

Did you plan on a career in music from an early age?
I learned how to play drums at a young age and my dad taught me a bit of bass. I also learned the trombone in band class in middle school so that taught me how to read music. As for being a musician, I knew I was never going to work for someone at a fairly young age. Somewhere around the age of 16 is when I made that decision. I HAD to be a producer/DJ, I wouldn’t settle for anything less.

As you began to develop your own tastes, what was it about electronic music that caught your ear?
When I was in high school I was pretty skeptical about dance music. I labeled everything as techno and thought it was too simple and repetitive. I remember hearing Kaskade’s “Move For Me” and realized then that dance music was more than just a simple beat. I started becoming very open minded, even getting into dubstep at that point, and it taught me a lot about myself.

You ditched high school prom to go to EDC back in the day—did you know what you were getting into?
This was all around the time when I was barely falling in love with dance music. I was learning about the culture then because before that I just knew about the music side. But even then I knew that’s where I wanted to be even though I only knew three artists by name that were performing. I didn’t even know who Swedish House Mafia was and they were headlining. (Laughs)

Speaking of EDC, your set this year was epic! Talk a bit about your experience that weekend. You were all over the place on Instagram! We saw you chilling with heavy-hitters on all the stages. You seem to be one of those people who genuinely loves music and people across the board.
Yeah, it was a dream! It always is at EDC! I’ve made a lot of friends throughout my career and I’m really happy that my hard work is paying off. I had people who I’ve looked up to my whole career telling me, “Yo man! ‘Thief’ is amazing, it’s my favorite song right now.” It’s absolutely nuts. I’m ready for what’s next.

One thing we loved was the live musicians you had on deck during your set.
We brought out the Sexy Sax Man and my Dad again this year! It’s nice to add a new element to my set as well at such an important festival as EDC. Oh yeah, I might have brought up my good friends Jauz, Laxx, YDG and Yultron too. MAYBE. You’d have to have been there.,

“Thief” obviously means a lot to you as you released a big music video, it’s become the name of your tour, you wrote and sang the lyrics. What’s the impetus behind it?
I was going through a pretty wack breakup and channeled all my emotions into a song rather than somewhere unhealthy. I knew I wasn’t a bad singer and I, no offense, can’t work with singers because I know what I want exactly so I said fuck it, I’ll do it myself!

It took on a whole new meaning when you dedicated it to the victims of Orlando attack on your Facebook page. We were really feeling the message you ended that post with: “In a world filled with hate, all we have is love.”
The world has its problems but we shouldn’t let that make us give up on the world either. We need to educate the youth and learn to use peaceful methods to make a difference. As a Mexican-American, I understand the struggles of being labeled a “minority,” but I learned to go beyond that to make a change not only in my life but hopefully in the lives of the people who listen to my music.

Before we go let’s talk bootlegs, remixes, and SoundCloud. We’re glad your situation was resolved but what’s the solution for up-and-coming producers trying to make a name for themselves?
It’s hard to give up on bootlegs and remixes; it’s how I made a name for myself. SoundCloud fucking sucks, man. I honestly feel bad for the upcoming producer now-a-days. It’s so unfortunate. We just need a new website honestly.

Last but not least, we’re stoked to have you dropping in at the Exchange next week and rinsing it the fuck out. What else should we be looking for from you in the near future?
I got like 5,000 new songs and collaborations with so many dope producers. My new single, “Buck,” will be dropping soon and I might just put out a pack of new music for free sometime. I’m also working on my album still so keep your eyes open for that!