Photo by Kate Sweeney

This is part two of my interview series with some of my recent collaborators. Today, I'm sharing my interview with Osea Merdis, who remixed my latest single, "I Don't Feel Alright." You can listen to that remix here:

Osea Merdis is the new project from DJ and producer, Moxy Martinez, most well known as DJ Moxy throughout the Midwest electronic scene. The project is routed in the experimental dance electronica space, and pushes Moxy's love of synths and cinescape in a new direction. The remix is the first material to be released under the Osea Merdis moniker.

Digisaurus: I believe I met you for the first time back in 2011 or 2012. You had just done a remix for a band I was part of called, "The Town Monster," and we were both playing at an event in Columbus called, "Trauma." You were performing under the moniker that most people know you as, "DJ Moxy," a versatile club/party DJ and producer. You've put out a lot of your own material on top of being involved in a bunch of collaborations. Give us a little highlight reel of your career so far and breakdown of the philosophies that drive you as a DJ, producer and collaborator?

Osea Merdis: yes, i remember doing that remix for Town Monster, I was sooooo GREEN as a producer! Earlier that year, 2011, I had just finished a remix for a local SF band called The Bruises - riding the vibes of that project I really felt more capable to bringing some heat to Town Monster!

My DJ career really kicked into massive high gear in 2004-2006 - I hadn’t hit the scene yet and was still getting the hang of beat matching and making sure my sets were fluid..or as fluid as they could be being as new to club dj equipment as I was at the time. I’ve always had the natural music flow and ability, but trying to translate what I heard in my head into a cohesive live dj set was a huge learning curve. So, I stayed up late nights, declined requests to go out with friends, and locked myself into a practice regime of teaching myself how to beat match - finding the true breakdowns in tracks was the biggest challenge. I was teaching myself on a Numark CDJ1, and I did it all by ear and still do! I absolutely do not fully rely on a computer program or machine algorithm to tell me what beat I should play next, I always go with my heart and gut!

My first gig ever was played on little, shitty, computer speakers that barely covered the area I was playing in at Saks Fifth Ave Polaris. But, what’s cool, and where I feel a lot of DJ’s really miss the mark, is that even though the actual sound quality could’ve been better, my track selections were able to supercede the need for a better PA to the point where I gained my very first residency based upon my track selection and set flow, not by how loud and into the red I could get the levels. My very first dj residency lasted as long as that particular bar did - about a year. During that year long residency, I started gaining a fanbase and was invited to become the very first official Ohio Roller Girls DJ and I remained so until my move to California came in 2010. During those early years of 2006-2010 I found that being willing to create a positive and uplifting vibe no matter the circumstances, holding yourself to a professional standard, and respecting the people who hire you as well as those in front of you (who are there to listen and feel your music) are the purest foundations of creating a solid career. When these foundations are put into action other artists & promoters will 1)want to hire you 2)want to work with you 3)put 1&2 on repeat.

Throughout my entire music career I have most definitely experienced bad bookings, unprofessional behaviors, lack of sound people/no sound help, i mean you name it when it comes to difficulties there’s a good chance i’ve experienced them. Some of those experiences really set my creative confidence back a bit. But, not quitting your art or allowing yourself to be totally defeated in the face of adversity & difficulty can lead to some major artistic jet fuel if used correctly.

"My bottom-line philosophy is: Just Be Cool. If you’re cool, I’m cool, no big deal because we’re all in this together."

This philosophy has helped land, maintain, and gain multiple dj residencies, hundreds and hundreds of dj & live show bookings, as well as consistent collaboration requests from eclectic artists around the world. It also helped me get voted #1 DJ several times as well plus win a DJ contest in SF.  

Digisaurus: Osea Merdis is a new project you’re  launching outside of your career under "DJ Moxy." Tell me about the decision to launch under a new name and how it's different from what you've been doing in the past, What kind of sound are you going for and what kind of artists are you taking influence from?

Osea Merdis: The Osea Merdis project had been a 2 year long process starting in late winter/early spring of 2015. I had just gotten done playing an amazing year of shows under Moxy Martinez, opening for people I’ve gained inspiration from like Jessy Lanza, Holy Ghost! and Jungle. Each and every one of those performances were the tiny steps that needed to be taken in order to fully actualize what I even wanted out of being producer-performer. I had gotten to a point where, I wasn’t really sure what the next step needed to be. I mean, I’ve really been only producing and performing my own work in a public setting since April 2013...not a very long time! There’s a huge difference between being a club DJ versus being a live electronic music performer. This difference of DJ-vs-Live Performer, and my lead up to Osea Merdis, stemmed from a combination of several things: 1) needing to break out of the party dj stigma in order to be seen as more of a live performance artist 2) heartbreak and death 3) gaining access to my original birth certificate and learning I was born with 2 middle names.

The adoption law in Ohio changed in March 2015, which granted me access to a piece of my life I didn’t know about yet...this change really deeply affected me. Learning who I was before I was adopted really dug into how I viewed my own personal identity. For over 30 years I was under the impression that I only had a first name UNTIL I was adopted. But that wasn’t the case at all! Learning who I was at birth, learning I had two middle names (Merdis Francina) really initiated the uprooting of almost the entirety of Moxy Martinez. Names are gifts, they are gifts that are carried with you forever to become this thing with predisposed energy. The names “Moxy” and “Martinez” were gifts from 2 different people at the very beginning of my dj career in 2005, and gifts that I wore (and still wear) proudly because I was able to create a certain reputation and energy with that name. But, what I didn’t count on was how synonymous it would become with “Dance Party” than it would with “live experimental electronic performance.”  I mean, I did it to myself in a way… I created this dj stigma (and no way do I resent it, I appreciate it so much!) and now realizing that I absolutely MUST be someone else in order to creatively progress into the directions I really need to go is a huge starting over point. I’m welcoming this new change. I can’t be the same person forever, although I will always always be a DJ, it’s imperative that my live productions and performances have their own identities and are separate from my DJ sets.  And, on top of it all, honoring who and where I came from starting at birth was a very important step in actualizing this new entity - my biological mother’s name is Ocea. The last foster family I had before my adoption created a photo album for me, and in that album are 3 photos of my bio mom, all of which her name is spelled incorrectly as ‘Osea.’ Combining her first name and one of my born middle names just felt like the most natural next step in creating something that is my own and no one else’s.  This new entity is a major transformation from DJ Moxy in that this is my own creation, a self actualized manifestation of the personal r(e)evolution(s) I have been going through for the past few years.

"Osea Merdis is the more audio emotive, vulnerable side of a DJ who was allowed brood and hide within other artist’s tracks in order heal what needed to be healed at the time….there is NO hiding with Osea Merdis."

There is only pure expression of pain, anguish, grief, growth, and healing. I will still be telling a story, but the story is being told through the eyes of original Osea Merdis productions versus a curated grouping of tracks in a DJ set.  

Lately, when doing sessions in studio, these personal experiences have been translated into deep subterranean bass tones, suspended synth lines, and with simple yet powerful beats. I’m also making sure that Osea Merdis sounds like Osea Merdis and not an exact echo of Brian Eno or DJ Shadow etc - yes pulling ideas and inspiration is what’s up, but Osea Merdis, I feel, will sound like a film score meets a UK underground dance club meets Bladerunner. My new project gains major influence and inspiration from the likes of Floating Points, Nicolas Jaar, Daniel Avery, Tim Hecker, Clint Mansell, Kraftwerk, Mas Ysa, Oneohtrix Point Never, Scuba, ACTRESS, James Blake, KAYTRANADA...I really could just keep listing influences but there’s not enough time in the world for me to continue listing the next few thousand or so hahahahah. But, recently ideas have been stemming from accumulated personal experiences. Most recently the deaths of several friends, the death of several relationships, and the self-care that must happen in order to progress in life.  A lot of that, for me, comes in the form of powerful silence. Nicolas Jaar and Mas Ysa utilize wide open silences in a very powerful way. I am really taking a lot of inspiration from the empowerment of silence on the next record…..I think sometimes I feel too compelled to fill every corner of a track with audio, which I absolutely KNOW is a hold-over from being a DJ - you never ever want silence in a club or venue , dead air is a big NO-NO! But, when executed properly, a big wide open dramatic pause can really bring depth and emotion to an otherwise thin track.

Digisaurus: In terms of songwriting and studio production, What are some of your favorite instruments, programs and/or plug-ins to work with? How have you successfully implemented those tools as an artist?

Osea Merdis: Lately since really diving into hardware, my Moog Mother 32 and Korg Minilogue have really really elevated my production. Something about showing up to a hardware instrument using only what is contained inside of its guts has really self directed me into a lane in which I feel very comfortable. And one in which i’ve been steering toward for several years now. Up until about 9mos ago, I did only digital production using Ableton and Reason. I would occasionally record myself on horn or grab some friends to play some sketches for me on their acoustic instruments, sometimes hitting up a vocalist I knew could rip the tones I needed.

"Transitioning into a hardware based producer has not only bumped up my confidence, but it has also helped me from feeling so overwhelmed when showing up to studio because I have these analog instruments that are there and ready - versus showing up to Ableton with a loose idea, searching around for the perfect sound and having absolutely nothing done hours later because the digital search for the ‘right sound’ took all the motivation and inspiration out of me." 

Now, with the Moog and Minilogue being the 2 solid cornerstones of my work, using ableton a recording conduit, Reason as the main drum sequencer and textural instrument, not only am I working more efficiently but  I’m way happier with what i’m outputting.

Digisaurus: We’re releasing a remix you did of my single, “I Don’t Feel Alright,” this week and it's great. The concept of “remixing” is often left pretty open to interpretation to artists, and yours is very texture based with chopped up samples from the original track. What are your philosophies when remixing other artists and give us some insight into the process from when you receive stems to completing a final mix?

Osea Merdis: Thank You!! I absolutely LOVE remixing other bands and artists! Keeping the original song integrity plays a huge part in the remixes I create. Lately, anyone can grab samples, grab a beat, loop a baseline from Diplo, toss em all in GarageBand and call it remix. However, keeping the integrity of the original idea and giving respect to the artists who created the original jam is a huge part of how I approach remixes.

When approaching a remix for the time,  digging deep into more of the undertoned ideas of the original song, the feel of the lyrics, and the possible flip I can do on the energy aspect of the whole project creates an original nuance and a unique vibe. Step one for me is always listening to the original cut several times before trying to dissect it. Sometimes the remix will make itself. Other times, like with IDFA, several versions evolve into a final version that is NOTHING like how it started. I really try to not use more than the vocal and bass stems when doing a remix, this really works for me because I allow myself to create something totally new. I don’t want to make almost the exact same song that I was invited to remix, so making my remixes stand out is very important, it’s a way to audio brand yourself. A definite signature remix move of mine is a specific gate effect I use for vocals - started using this technique with my very first remix for The Bruises back in 2010/2011 and as my dad always said “just go with whatcha know.” That vox gate is a fave play for sure!

Digisaurus: Lastly, What’s coming up for Osea Medris and DJ Moxy in 2017?

Osea Merdis: 2017 is an embryo year for Osea Merdis. I will be leaving town at the end of the month to write most if not all material for the first Osea Merdis LP titled Grief Sleep: Post Mortem Sounds Of A Broken Heart. I knew the only way to get the purest, rawest emotion out of myself for this album is to go be isolated in the woods, completely off the grid. Taking my entire set up plus a week’s supply of coffee is the perfect recipe. Currently finishing my first film score under Osea Merdis which will then give way to the album writing trip.  This year is the year of growth and opportunity.  Grief Sleep has been a planned project for a little over 2yrs now. My plan is to release later this year. In the meantime, I’ll be doing performances this summer and fall of selections from Grief Sleep and working on creating a small a 2018 tour.

On the flipside, I can definitely guarantee a few Dj sets sprinkled here and there to keep my dj brain in tact. Those will still be booked under DJ Moxy ;)

Although I am still populating oseamerdis.com, a slow progressive unveiling of works in progress, show announcements, and other information will be happening all year long.

You can find more on Osea Merdis at http://www.oseamerdis.com. You can also find DJ Moxy on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/moxymartinez

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