Cue Points: Otik
This is Cue Points, a new series where DJs get granular with current tracks in their sets, giving us the low-down on what makes them work.
As Otik, London-based DJ and producer Ashley Thomas made his name with an ethereal strain of cutting-edge club music that’s taken him from the centre of the dancefloor to its more contemplative peripheries and back over the last decade or so. This is all in keeping with his own personal listening habits, which find him drawn to sounds that cut deep and leave you pondering, as well as heavier tunes built for sound systems; emotional bass bangers feels like an apt synopsis. It should come as no surprise to learn that the works of fellow UK producer Burial have been cited as inspirational by Thomas in the past.
Thomas has released on a myriad of influential labels from across the UK, including Keysound Recordings, Shall Not Fade and Gobstopper, with more projects landing on the Martyn-helmed 3024 label as well as Aus Music and Future Classic – home to this month’s lush, atmospheric and (in places) more directly house-rooted Oxytoxin EP. Last year, he also launched his own Solar Body imprint with club-primed four-tracker Psyops. He’s no stranger to the international festival circuit either, with stops at Junction 2, Berlin’s Radiance and Four Tet’s Finsbury Park all-dayer in the last few weeks alone.
Next month, Otik will journey to Prague for Lunchmeat Festival’s next showcase of electronic sounds and digital art. Before then, however, he joins us for a new instalment of our set-focused series Cue Points, getting into the technicalities of five tracks from his current DJ rotation as he talks favourite openers, mood-flippers and an end-of-night staple from his personal catalogue.
Daniel Klauser – Say My Name
This track was a free download I stumbled upon in 2012 – a time when I was just starting out as Otik and absorbing and downloading as much music as I could. What’s crazy about this track is that I still love it and it sounds like it could’ve been made today over 11 years later in today’s edit era. It’s a great tune to open with, or even when you want to break up a heavy set with something light and vocal-driven to give the crowd a breather. It’s not on streaming services, so I get asked what this one is a lot at shows.
Forest Drive West – New Day
This is probably one of my favourite tunes to open a set with. It takes a while for any melodies to emerge and it kicks off right into grooving bass and drums, but it’s still light enough to play alongside something ambient. It’s one of those tracks that works so well with any beatless track I decide to open with, and it allows me to take the set in multiple directions. I usually start with something euphoric and beatless and then about two minutes in I’ll layer over this track. Once I’ve mixed out the intro and this track gets into its melodic or atmospheric section, I can either carry on with a rolling ambient vibe or I can take it to a heavier and more drum-focused place. The groove on the track doesn’t have a prominent kick – it’s mainly just bass and percussion – so it can blend beautifully with a drum-led tune even without removing the low-end of it.
Djrum – Turiya (Tessela Remix)
This remix by Tessela during his Hackney Parrot days has really stood the test of time. I’ve been playing this song in my sets since 2012/13 but I actually forgot about it for a long time and only recently started playing it out again. It’s mainly just breaks with a subtle vocal for the first minute which is really nice to blend into a 4×4 track – usually something already quite heavy and housey fits well with this. I tend to use this as a bridge track between house/techno and breaks/jungle. It also sounds really great sped-up, probably due to how organic and perfectly mixed down the elements in Tessela’s music actually are. But nonetheless this tune really can flip the mood of a set and get the crowd properly engaged.
Nebula – Inner Peace
This is one of my favourite jungle tracks ever, even though I only discovered it a couple of years ago. It ticks all the boxes for me; it has a super long, deep and ambient intro which eventually gets accompanied but some insanely well-programmed breaks. What I love the most about this track in terms of DJing is the intro. It’s very stretched out and atmospheric which means it’s the perfect tune to use as a segue into jungle towards the end of the set or even for opening a 160 set.
Otik – Zero Sum Game
I don’t usually plug my own music in things like this, but there are very few tunes of my own that I tend to draw for in sets as I get a bit in my head about it. I do play my own music, but there’s only really one staple that’s stuck around at my shows. I really like playing this as a closing track, I think because of the sort of dramatic string elements in the outro.
Otik plays Lunchmeat Festival, Prague, from 25-30 September