Ookay Talks the Rise Of "Thief" and Fashion Tips in an iEDM Exclusive Interview
Ookay had a different kind of energy from the previous DJs who graced the main stage at Electric Zoo before him. There was something just naturally cool about him. You couldn't find the word to describe what he was about because he was unlike anything anyone has ever seen.
"Dude, have you met me? I talk a lot," Ookay said with a gigantic laugh. "That's why I've been here since 5pm."
"Our schedule is over," said Matt Jenks, Ookay's tour manager, chuckling modestly as he shrugged his shoulders.
A person couldn't fake the kind of energy that Ookay carries around with him on a day-to-day basis. He just had 'it.' You know it when you see it. Fans all across the world also feel that way for the rising superstar on the scene.
It was only a few years ago that the DJ began making a splash in the EDM industry. He explained to iEDM in an exclusive interview, "Ookay officially took off around late 2013 into early 2014. I started off doing mostly trap music. I was riding that wave for a while. It was a brand new genre. I was like, 'Whattt the heck is this?' I was making house, dutch house and big room a little before that. I just found my place from there."
Ookay then nodded, "It was so easy for me to make because I guess everything else just felt right. The timing was right."
The DJ was having a blast backstage in the media lounge at E-Zoo. Ookay popped a couple of potato chips in his mouth without a single care in the world. There was something rather charming about his laidback demeanor.
"I love it. I went, 'It would be sick to make this.' So I started doing that. I've been making a lot of trap stuff throughout the years. And then 'Thief' happened. That was a big monumental step for me," he said before taking a bite of yet another chip.
You knew he had that easy-going California vibe about him when you heard him speak. He doesn't sweat the small stuff these days because he now sees the bigger picture. With the release of "Thief," it was a different and new direction for Ookay.
"I was really nervous about putting it out at first," he said. When asked why, he took a jab at critics. "'This isn't Ookay! This is different!' You always have that nervous reaction when you do something so different. Everyone is a critic. People's words can hurt sometimes," he sighed. Ookay paused before letting out a gigantic Kool-Aid smile, "Or push you forward. Either or."
Ookay shoots for greatness and knocks it out of the park. Forward he went. He is the kind of guy you need in your life. Why? He dresses loud and brings the noise even louder.
That's just what he does.
"I was making a lot of changes throughout that time when I was making that song," Ookay told iEDM when talking about his experience creating "Thief."
"I was just establishing myself out in LA, living out on my own. I was able to talk to myself a lot. I was starting to learn who I was. Making the changes--letting people go from my life and bringing people in. It had a lot to do with it. It helped me. It made me a stronger person," he said.
Ookay's personal life played a factor in creating his big hit. He said, "That definitely went into the song and things turned out how they were supposed to. Things like that happen organically. I guess people feel that."
The fans feel the DJ's authenticity when it comes to his own music. "It's so different. The thing is, everything has changed so much for me," Ookay said. He elaborated, "I was playing a lot of other people's music before. I had to cater to what was popular and what people wanted to hear. Now it's become a situation where I'm able to play all of my stuff."
Having the freedom to be in charge of his own musical destiny was a game changer for Ookay. "I don't feel like there's stress anymore because people come out to hear Ookay and that's what they are gonna get," he smiled.
"It's all on-top-of-the-head stuff. Yeah, I have my skeleton set and things that are obviously supposed to be in there...You have to be prepared," Ookay explained. He paused before having a laugh, "You don't just walk in there and go, 'Yeah, I don't know!' There's always some sort of structure."
That doesn't mean one has to stick to the plan all of the time. "You can always veer off the track if you want--I did a little bit of that today," he grinned as he recalled his experience of dominating Electric Zoo this year.
"It was awesome. The sun came out as soon as I played 'Thief.' It was the perfect timing. All of the clouds moved right over there," he pointed. Ookay continued, "There was this beautiful sunrise." He stared off into the open sky. It was quite the ideal picture for the charismatic DJ.
Ookay also loves an ideal outfit because he knows how to put it all together. When people passing by him gave a compliment on his style, he quickly screamed, "Ayeeee!"
Anyone would be able to pick him out from a police lineup. There was no other way of getting around it--he is a statement maker. "Well, I do a lot of thrift store shopping. Shoutout to Macklemore," Ookay said with a smirk.
His presence could fill up the darkest of rooms. A place would truly light up should Ookay decide that's where he wanted to be on that given day. He got that from his mother.
Ookay said in all seriousness, "Growing up, my mom...She's kind of a penny pincher, just as a habit. She's retired now and took care of the elderly people. My dad does a lot of computer stuff."
"They are doing well. My mom just crushes her outfit game," Ookay told iEDM.
"Big time," his buddy Jenks agreed.
"She's the one that taught me the lesson, 'People are always watching you even if you don't think they are.' So you always have to walk outside READY. Even when I go to the grocery store--I dress up. I iron my clothes," Ookay stated.
He pointed to Jenks, "I taught him how to iron. " Jenks could only shake his head before mouthing, "That's also true."
Ookay doesn't iron everything though. "Jeans? Not so much on the road because it gets sweaty. If there's slacks or something? Oh hell yeah," he said with encouragement.
When asked why he dresses the way that he does, Ookay said without hesitation, "It also has to do with my personality. It shows on stage. I dance a lot. I'm crazy. I say dumb things on the mic all of the time."
There's a lot of people out there who need help when it comes to personal style. What is Ookay's advice when it comes to looking your rave best? "Oh shoot. You shouldn't wear black and blue denim at the same time. Mismatched socks are also kind of weird. I wouldn't do it personally," he told iEDM.
That shouldn't stop people from trying something different though, Ookay advised. "I mean...fashion comes down to attitude. People who go, 'I could never pull that off,' probably can. It's just an attitude thing. If you feel that you can rock it, you probably can. Before this, I was walking around in like, black drapes! I could do that too," he exclaimed.
Ookay then lifted up his shoulders, "I don't feel that way anymore. My personality comes out in my clothing." He wasn't kidding. He followed up by winking, "I'm a bubbly dude so I have to put that out there. I am blessed."
Speaking of being blessed, Ookay has a busy couple of months ahead of him. He let iEDM know what he is going to be up to. "We just put out a new song called 'Lighthouse.' Me and Fox Stevenson are on it. It came out on Monstercat. A new album is also coming out next year," he hinted.
When pressed for more info, the talented DJ was game to drop more information. "It's called 'Wild Cool.' I'm in the studio not only for the music but to get ready for the performance element and the live show. We just announced it. We are taking all of the equipment on the road to do something new and exciting. Something different," he happily stated.
Before enjoying the rest of his time at Electric Zoo, Ookay wanted to let iEDM fans know that they are more than welcome to hop on the 'Team Ookay train.' He left saying, "Thanks for the support. I wouldn't be here without you guys. If you're listening for the first time--Welcome to team Ookay! We are all hugs and smiles here. Get on the team because it's the right team to be on."
You can follow Ookay on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also check out more exclusive iEDM interviews featuring your favorite DJs HERE.
All photos were provided by Krista Carnegie.