With some interviews, it’s really hard to get an artist’s personality to pop up to really get to know the person behind the music.
This is not an issue anyone experiences with Ookay, also known as Abraham ‘Abe’ Laguna. He’s boisterous, and chatty, and one of the funniest artist I’ve met. His authentic excitement for new music and his friends’ success is endearing, and it doesn’t stop there—with his new live sets, forthcoming album, and new merch, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
I had a chance to sit down and speak with him at Electric Zoo this year:
First things first, congrats on your single “Lighthouse.”
Thank you! That song has taken so long to come out, and I’m so glad it finally did.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process?
It’s actually just a little bit of laziness [laughs]. If you want to be completely honest. I think we were both just really busy with different projects, then we both went, “Oh shoot, we have a finished single that hasn’t come out yet, that people have heard and are begging us to put out. We should probably do that.”
We got in contact with Monstercat, we both have really good friends there. It’s actually Fox [Stevenson]’s first release with them. I put a Facebook video of it live, just to see how people would react at first, and people went crazy; making artwork for it, trying to rip it on SoundCloud. So… it’s out now. People love it, the fans go crazy for it. We’re excited about it.
Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists or prefer making your own originals?
The collab was so organic. I actually stopped by a party Fox was playing at, which was rare because he’s from the U.K. and was only in L.A. for, like, a week. He sent me the song a day or two after we saw each other at the club.
It was so loud, we spent the whole time screaming back and forth, “Oh I’ll send you the song!” “OK OK, Send me the song!” “I will!”
He sent me the instrumental of “Lighthouse,” phase one, and I thought, “Oh, we’ve got this.” There was a first draft of the lyrics that I sang on, but it sounded really corny, so we fixed it. We both sang on that song—layered on top of one another. He’s growing a lot in the States, huge in Europe, but our styles work really well together. He’s an amazing dude and so talented. If you haven’t heard his other stuff, listen to his song “Radar.” I always play it in my sets.
[Your single] “Thief” is pretty famous…
Is that what that is? Is that what fame is? Did I do that? Are you sure? [laughs]
Where did the saxophone inspiration come from?
It was actually a synth before with the same exact melody. I thought it was wack—it needed something different. We went through flute, went through trumpets, then landed on saxophone and it was over. [imitates a saxophone playing] It was it. Done.
I finished the song, and I never wanted to put it out.
Before that song, I was more known for my trap stuff, the club bangers. I was nervous more than anything. I didn’t want people to be like, “Man, this guy sucks now! He’s not the same OOKAY we fell in love with!” It was the exact opposite. People loved it. It’s crazy how much love that song gets, to the point where Flux Pavillion remixed it. He’s such a legend, so to be able to get a remix like that from such an awesome guy means a lot to me.
Also, do you know he has the coolest name ever? It’s Josh Steele. That’s like an action hero name.
Ok. Your DJ Obama conspiracy video announcement is amazing.
Do you have a favorite conspiracy theory?
Hm. I like the one about the Denver airport. It’s a bomb shelter and Illuminati base. There’s a crazy bomb shelter underneath it, there’s supposed to be some concentration camp-style shit under the airport. This is a real thing.
There’s a giant space under it, but people don’t know what it’s for. I don’t know if you’ve been to the Denver airport, but there is a giant blue horse when you come inside. It’s a blue horse with red eyes that glow in the night. It’s so creepy. There’s some crazy stuff going on in the airport.
Favorite meme or Twitter account?
Oh man. My favorite Twitter account right now goes out to @YahBoyCourage. He actually came to my apartment one time to hang out. He was an hour away and I told him I’d Uber him to my place and we’d kick it. He came through. It was super cool. He’s, like, on top of the new jokes, always. He’s faster than I am, and I’m pretty hard to beat.
Favorite meme? This dude Cody Campbell. He’s got some weird dance moves and maybe, like, 400 YouTube followers. It’s really bizarre stuff.
Tell me a little about binch boys.
[screaming] THE BINCHES!
Where’s the term come from?
Binch is an old internet joke from 4chan. It didn’t get popular, but I started saying it all the time. One day, we were all drinking, and I just kept saying “binch.” That was it. I have a tattoo of it.
Outside of music, we’re best friends. It’s so funny that we’re all doing so well but we never get to see each other [fake cries]. We all live ten minutes walking distance from each other, so we get brunch. We never talk about music though. We talk about Steve Brule. We love Steve Brule. Have you seen Steve Brule? It started with Tim and Eric. It’s a character John C. Reilly does. We base all our humor and inside jokes on it.
We went to Asia and people brought my binch cookies; people make binch signs. It’s nuts. People get it tattooed. They had it tattooed before I had it tattooed.
So now you have matching tattoos with your fans?
Well, all of us have them—me, Yultron, Dotcom, Kayzo—we all have matching binch tattoos on our upper thigh in the same spot.
Did you get them together?
I was the last one to get it. This is my first tattoo. They forced me to go to San Francisco, and we were all driving up there together, and we were cracking jokes all day, and I thought, “You know, I’m just gunna get it.” It’s just going to remind me of hanging out with my best friends all day.
You’ve played some huge festivals like EDC Las Vegas. What’s your weirdest festival story?
I have a really bad memory, but… I pretty much go to the hospital every fourth festival. I hurt myself a lot. I always roll my ankle. Here’s the thing: Yellowclaw curses me. They’ve put a curse on me. Every time they play the same festival as me, and every time I see them, I hurt my ankle.
It happened the first time in Mexico City at EDC. It happened again at Open Beatz Festival and then one other time.
Maybe that’s the real conspiracy theory?
That is the conspiracy theory. Yellowclaw has a hex on Ookay.
We always have too much fun and I end up hurting myself. I’m pretty reckless on stage; I usually go all out. I don’t think about my health at all. Oops.
Do you have a favorite festival you’ve played?
Is it biased to say E-Zoo? Since I’m here, at E-Zoo? Lollapalooza was a dream for me. Bonnaroo was emotional for me because I was so exhausted, and I got to hear everyone sing “Thief.” I was at the point where I didn’t know what to do after that… I was vulnerable to all these emotions. It was the first time I cried at a festival.
I don’t know; every festival has its own experience. You’d think it’s just, “Oh, we’re backstage, here with our friends, now let’s go home.” No. We actually go out in the crowds, hang out. Moonrise—I was out in the dirt. I was in the mosh pit for Herobust. We have fun. We don’t let being a DJ affect it. We’re out in the crowd, we’re partying, we’re having fun. We make it an experience rather than a job.
Do you have a favorite food spot you can’t stop going to right now?
I’m a born again vegan right now. You can thank Getter for that. He told me to try vegan because I’d drop like, ten pounds in four minutes. So I was like, “Ok, I’ll do that.” I was actually eating like garbage before that.
But… my favorite place to eat is in Los Angeles is at a place called Manuela. It’s in the Arts District area, which is so close to my house. I actually went to go get brunch with JAUZ and Kayzo. We’ll all get mimosas. They raise the chickens in the city close to the restaurant. It’s also an art exhibition, so you can get drunk and then see giant wooden sculptures or paintings.
They throw kids arts and crafts stuff on the weekends too. It’s a little community.
Any up-and-coming artists you can’t stop listening to? How do you discover new artists?
Oh my gosh. I’m listening to a lot of heavier stuff. I really like Crankdat‘s new stuff. He’s really cool. He’s super young but making good stuff.
I’m listening to a lot of non-electronic artists. I have been kind of out of the loop, I haven’t been doing a lot of listening lately. I need to do a five-hour SoundCloud binge to keep up.
Oh! Dyro is crushing it right now. He’s doing dubstep now, it’s insane. Spagheddy! I guess I’m a big dubstep guy. I don’t make it anymore. Well, I never made a proper dubstep song.
What’s in store for the next year?
I’m going my tour, the album that drops early 2018, and I’m doing a lot of merch. I’m doing a popup shop—the first one is in L.A (this weekend!). then the next will be in New York. Maybe one in Chicago, maybe one in Austin… This is all brain storming, but we’re excited. It’s coming out very soon!
My album isn’t even done yet. I have a full album recorded, but I keep making music, and it just has to go in the album. I made a song three days ago and it’s going in the album. I work really fast—”Thief” only took six hours to make. It just sat there because I didn’t know when to put it out.
So yeah. New show. New album. New merch.
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