skip to content

Interview: Onra

Interview: Onra


Posted in Interviews

"I think we're going to reach a point where we can't go futher, so we have to go back to the roots. I kind of hope for it."

​High on more than just life in a smoke filled room on a night that's trying desperately to hide from its own shadow under one of the brightest moons in earth's history, we bobbed our heads and danced (well Jonathan did) for almost two hours to worldly beatmaker, Onra's chopped up set of RnB laden beats and electronically produced experiments laced with influences spanning the entire globe.

For Arnaud Bernard, strutting a cool five years between albums is just part of the process. Music is an experience that takes the listener along for a ride, and for Onra it's a journey that tells the story of cultural evolution, and the link connecting us all being that undeniable beat. Maybe the heavy dose of synthetic euphoria we had imbibed earlier in the night was finally kicking in, maybe the uncontainable passion in Onra runs so deep it seeps through his pores. Whatever it is, there's no denying Onra creates a unifying vibe with his music, and through our brief yet extremely profound chat, his message became clear: no matter how much the world around us changes, it's the music that will save us all. Take a peek at the tagteam Onra interview, which in his drunken/high stupor he coined the "best interview he has done", by Jonathan of Live For The Funk and Dre of Gluttony Is The Black below and be sure to snag Onra's new record Deep In The Night that drops next month via Fool's Gold.

Your next project is coming out on Fool's Gold.

Yes, but All City Records released my last two albums, Long Distance and Chinoiserie Part II. The first one came out five years ago on a French label because I went to Vietnam and found some Chinese music on vinyl that I was able to make something out of. It's like a hip-hop mix with Chinese traditional music in very short format. I made a second one five years later because I've been going through different phases and have been inspired by different music. When I was in Vietnam I was like, "damn! What is this kind of music? I've never heard it before." It's like a new genre of music, hip-hop mixed with Asian influence. I like this shit, and I know people will like this shit, so I'm just going to make this shit.

Would you say that French hip-hop has it's own culture?

French hip-hop is like American hip-hop. It's so big so there are many different scenes. There's the underground scene, like West Coast hip-hop. There's a crowd for 90s hip-hop shit, and there's going to be a crowd for top 40. It's almost impossible to generalize.

Do you know the Jazz Liberatorz?

Oh hell yeah! They're my really good friends actually. There's not really a very strong general jazz influence like the Jazz Liberatorz use though. It's different in Japan, where everybody clearly... I mean I'm kind of drunk right now so I can't really explain how deep my thought is going... but Japanese people instantly feel something that is soulful. They're reallllly into it. Being French doesn't mean shit; I don't know anyone who's 100% french. We're all coming from Europe, North Africa, West Indies, Asia... everywhere. So there's no real French culture in hip-hop. It all depends on where you grew up and what your background is... that was really cheesy.

Where do you see electronic music heading next?

Well, I was part of this beat scene when it all started, I would say around 2006 and 2007 with Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, and Rustie. They all have different kinds of styles, but that's the next shit even though all those dudes come from hip-hop. I don't really know pure electronic music because I don't really listen to it. I mean, some dubstep, even if I really don't like it, sounds really futuristic and very hard. You could imagine it could be the soundtrack to a movie set in 2050 or something like that. But it's only 2012, and everything goes in cycles. I think we're going to reach a point where we can't go futher, so we have to go back to the roots. I kind of hope for it. What if tomorrow there's no electricity? Everyone will pick up a guitar, bass, and drums. That would be cool.

I'm more of an organic analog kind of guy. Aphex Twin, for example, I'm just kind of discovering this guy. And Daft Punk, of course I know their albums and respect them, but they've never been influences to me. So it's weird when people sometimes compare my work to them because I've never really listened to their shit except for what was on the radio. Anyway, it has to go back at some point. Cycles.

So speaking of things going in cycles, when you pulled me aside and said you were playing your new stuff...

Thank you for dancing all night man, you were like the only one really into it. You were like, "yeah, yeah,woo, yeah, yeah!" It's really important to us. even if there's one guy, it really feels good. You don't really look at him in his eyes, but I could feel that you were there. All night you didn't move, or get a drink or whatever, you were HERE. I don't see it, but I feel it and it really helps me. If you were not there, and a couple people were moving in and out all night, that would be really difficult.

Haha, no problem, man; I wanted you to comment on your new stuff though.

Haha, yeah, my new stuff is more RnB. I'm really trying to bring back the feeling. You need to go back, not too early, like not New Jack, but I think it's going to be harder for people to get back into this shit. It's almost only for old people who already experienced it back in the day. So if you go back a little further, like to '95 or '96, I'm talking about either RnB or hip-hop music with an RnB female chorus; they were just all hits, man. It just makes you want to dance. It's what I grew up with, and I want to bring it back.

When's it coming out?

I think the beginning of June. Really soon. They haven't really promoted it. I don't even understand how the promotion will work. But Fools Gold is good and I know it will do well, so I don't really care about how they get it out there.

 If you could describe your music as a dish, what would it be?

Let's be professional on this one. It would be like a pizza with spring rolls. A quarter would be tomato, cheese, and ham. Another quarter would be ham from a mountain, like the purest shit, organic ham, and organic cheese. Another part would be katchup and frozen french fries on top with maybe some swiss cheese and a little bit of bacon, like shaved bacon, but not fancy, just fucking throw it on there.

I'm from nowhere really. My great, great grandfather come from India, my grandmother comes from Vietnam, and my other side is 100% French. On top of that, I've been living in France, Germany, and the Ivory Coast, but I'm also inspired by hip-hop culture as well. So it's a mix of like everything.

--- / ---
Sound Cloud

No. 1

--- / ---
Sound Cloud

No. 2

--- / ---
Sound Cloud

No. 3

--- / ---
Sound Cloud

No. 4

Tagged In electronic / hip-hop / r&b



In here →