Otis Kane Talks Old School Feels And New School Ideas In His Clubhouse Chat
Throughout Purple BLUE, it seems like Otis Kane can do whatever he wants. There are moments of pop ecstasy, blues heartbreak, R&B love jams, and moments that reach straight through your body and grab your soul. It’s vulnerable and honest, with the narrator Kane moving from smooth-talking ladies man to love-sick, heartbroken crooner.
If the versatility throughout the record leaves you unsure of your favorite cut, you’re not the only one. Even those closest to Otis have trouble choosing. “Listening to these records as they’ve been made over the course of the last several months, I thought I knew my favorite every time one hit, and then he’d just drop something else. I’d be like, ‘You gotta be kidding me, man!,’” explains his manager Matthew Maysonet. There’s the upbeat joy of “Sweet Sensation,” drenched with 60s-era psych guitar and lurching drums that carry Kane’s beautiful near-falsetto. But not everything’s so rosy, which is what makes Purple BLUE so exciting. “Can’t Stay Away” stomps with the same ferocity your heart does when you fall back into love with the one you’re supposed to stay away from. Then there’s “Angel,” which, though an ode to a lover, melts with ballad-inspired guitar chords, gospel organs, and a perfectly placed sitar.
Kane’s versatility carries the album, which he credits to his “continuously at-capacity brain.” Kane began his journey as a singer, before playing drums in high school, jamming out to his favorite bands like Nirvana and N.E.R.D. This glimpse into his early heroes helps shed light on his eclecticism and the way he melds rock, funk, R&B, and hip-hop throughout Purple BLUE.
Kane learned how to compose by asking questions. Bunking up with a piano player and a percussionist in college, he learned to write songs by bugging them again and again for tips, tricks, and everything in between regarding their crafts. “I would spend as much time with whoever I thought was good at something, and just pick things up,” Kane explained during the Clubhouse Session.
Part of Otis’ ability to synthesize all these ideas into what you hear on Purple BLUE is due to his team, who he listens to for both advice and inspiration. Kyle Coleman (writer/producer), Clara Aranavich (music videos), and Pink Sweat$ (artist), all played a pivotal role in the creation of the album, alongside his aforementioned manager, Matthew Maysonet.
“The type of music Otis is doing is so refreshing, because it’s the stuff we all grew up on,” Coleman explained during the chat. “It was a familiar feeling when we started making this kind of music.”
There’s an instinctiveness to the record that is rare among artists who create in the blues and soul tradition. With its rich history, originality is hard, imitation is the norm. Otis Kane has found a way to tap into the deep traditions he grew up on without ever falling into obvious tropes. It’s why Purple BLUE sounds both intimately familiar and entirely new. Otis Kane is a student of music, but he’s also a teacher. He’s the rare talent able to synthesize old ideas into fresh questions and declarations. He’s an old soul, refracted through the lens of a one-of-a-kind new school aesthetic.
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