Onallee: Revolution!

Onallee: Revolution!

image (4)

It’s nice though to come from a tradition where 100% live D&B is the order of the day!

The name Onallee will resonate deeply with any true D&B head: the voice of New Forms, and a constituent part of a living breathing D&B ANIMAL, of Reprazent. To be ABLE to do that, night after night? That’s simply next level, as Reprazent live was a Bristol-fashioned locomotive –  clearly evidenced in the crowd expressions: part excitement, part rabbit in the headlights of the approaching juggernaut. And now? Crafted with Am:So, Onallee’s new Revolution ep is near, as focused, alive and as electric as you’d expect, so we went right in!

Got to say that the sound of Revolution is infectious, you all sound like you’re on fire! What’s fueling the flames as it were?

We honestly just want to get out there! I think because we’ve had a little time out of the game we really are chomping at the bit to get our projects underway. That kind of positive, creative energy is infectious and I’m glad it translates onto the record and into the listening experience for the audience.

It’s an exciting time in music in terms of the opportunities for musicians to direct and control their own careers as well as the mountain of great music out there. We just want to be a part of that.

We started writing these tracks in the summer. We were quite clear about how we wanted them to sound so it was a very easy process from start to finish. There’s not many times you can say that when collaborating I can tell you!

I like it when the people I work with are focused and efficient. Am:So is perfect like that. The impetus for creating an EP was that Am:So and I were on the same page creatively which made producing this EP such a dream.

What about the wider image when it comes to influences?

Globally, it’s also a unique time in terms of world events and our collective dissatisfaction with those current events also motivated the sound and lyrical content of the record.

Was the title tune from Revolution a statement of what you want to create here: something new and exciting?

It really follows on from the tracks I wrote for the new Reprazent album. With that I wasn’t so much writing songs – as much as a manifesto – a blueprint for revolution: social and personal. Change is the only constant in life right? We always want to be brave enough to stand up for our convictions inside and outside the studio. It’s not an easy road… but I’m up for it!

If I had to choose a fave, ‘Build Me Up’ would be the one, it’s made my day. Can you take us behind the scenes of this tune?

Yeah, that beat is absolutely rolling!

Am:So had already created the beat so I went off and wrote to it. It was very easy to write to. I just imagined being in a rave and also thought about what I would want to hear on the radio.

I took quite a bit of inspiration from the old skool rave era. It has three distinct vocal parts which each have a very different feel so the record takes you on a journey. The lyrics reverberate between the personal and political – and inevitably the personal becomes the political.

What about the lyrics?

It starts with “Don’t know what you do to me/maybe I will give you everything” which I deliberately made sound like a love song but it’s also a political comment. It can be interpreted as one person talking to another or it can describe the state of mindless citizens sedated with TV, internet and fast food giving their free will and power away to those who do not have their best interests at heart.

The whole record is interlaced with double meanings.

image (5)

The title ‘Build Me Up’ is a demand as much as a statement. The proceeding lines are questioning where as this is a statement of intent which is the central theme to the track.

Whatever you’re doing, make sure the intent is to build yourself up: not vice versa.

There must be plans to perform this live? You must have a crew behind you with this sole purpose?

Yes, there’s plans to take this live. With my experience of playing in Reprazent it’s given me a unique insight into how to take D&B from the studio to the stage. It has it’s own challenges; primarily, how to achieve a true representation of the record whilst playing it live. I am by no means a purist though. To be honest if it meant a better sound I would rather run some backing track and play the other elements live.

It’s nice though to come from a tradition where 100% live D&B is the order of the day!

So many are involved in D&B but few have the Bristol method and personalities essential to delivering a LIVE phenomenon. People such as Roni/Reprazent, Breakbeat Era, Kosheen, Dr Meaker… it’s incredible! So why is it that Bristol delivers so well?

Bristol people do have a great wealth of musical heritage to draw upon and I think maybe that lends to the notion that even though your music is electronic you still want to express and interpret it live with integrity. I think you’ll find though that most people tend to utilise a backing track on stage and it’ll be very hard to find an electronic band that doesn’t.

Just to step back a bit, what was the first track that inspired you to be a singer, ever?

To be honest I always thought I was going to be a guitarist! I learnt Flamenco and classical guitar from the age of nine but quickly realised that playing live was a bit too nerve wracking! I obviously admired singers from an early age but I actually just fell into singing – it kinda came naturally.

There isn’t one particular track but vocalists like Nina Simone, Gladys Knight and Tina Turner are definitely inspirations. I never thought I’d be a singer though when I grew up. That’s life!

To round this off can you tell me a great story or two of ‘back in the day’ with the crew?

Winning the Mercury Music Prize was a very strange and life changing day… but I also remember the live simultaneous broadcast at the BBC: when we were live on

Radio 1 and on BBC 2 at the same time. That was a great day – it was also my birthday.

Collecting my first Q Award and lining up in the dinner queue with Edwin Starr waiting for our mashed potato and seeing all the people you grew up listening to… like Blondie, that was surreal! Or the time we were on the Big Day Out tour in Australia and we went to a club and took it over. We walked up to the DJ booth and the whole of the Reprazent crew started DJing and MCing. They didn’t seem to mind though; on the contrary in fact.

There’s so many stories – much of them shall never see the light of day for obvious reasons – but it’s a testament to how long we’ve been around and whether it’s with Reprazent, or with my solo projects, I’m looking forward to creating a few more stories…


You can follow Damian B on Twitter, @DAMIAN___B
D&B for some time now; studied at institution of Fabio & Grooverider.