We got to meet EDM producer Ookay at his first Manila show

Photos by Kitkat Pajaro

Things kind of took off for Abraham Laguna A.K.A. Ookay back in 2016 when he released his single Thief. You might know it, the one with the sax drop that goes extra hard. Before that year he had an EP under his belt via the Steve Aoki label Dim Mak Records, with his last notable big break being his collab with Showtek. Now Thief has almost seven million views, and Ookay has since brushed shoulders with the likes of Marshmello and Skrillex. He’s also working on his first album.

On December 8, Ookay came to Chaos Manila at City of Dreams for his first show in the country. DJs Jet Boado and MVRXX kicked off the night, but talking to the 25-year-old DJ and producer in his dressing room before his set was its own party.

 Friends in high places: Ookay has collaborated with a bevy of artists, including Showtek, Fox Stevenson, Marshmello and Noah Cyrus.

YOUNG STAR: How did you first get your start in music?

OOKAY: I grew up in a musical family. My dad played bass guitar, my mom’s a singer. So I grew up always around jazz and gospel music. Going into high school, I became very interested in metal and rock music, so I became a drummer and I was in a band for a little bit. It wasn’t working out, because the band members were just kind of like, not as motivated or interested to make music as much as I wanted to. Around that time, it was like, right after high school, I just heard about like, EDM, Deadmau5, Cascade, Skrillex. I was just getting into it, and I learned that that’s a new way to make music by yourself! I just started practicing, five, six, seven years. I was DJ-ing in California, in San Diego for a little bit. Some raves, here and there.

Two months into college, Boregore calls me, he was like “Hey, I want you to go on tour with me!” And then I quit my job, I quit school, I quit everything. Started touring. Little by little, I started putting out more music, I started travelling.

 

Out of all your musical influences, what is it about electronic music that fascinates you?

Its flexibility and its overall liquidity. The way it’s able to form and change and become whatever it needs to be. That’s the fun part about dance music. There’s no shape anymore. It’s changed now.

High lights: We caught Ookay at the back of Chaos Manila a few minutes before his first show in the Philippines.

Who are your dream collaborations?

Oh. Prince. [laughs] I don’t know right now. Collaborations? I feel like I’ve done a lot. I did the one with Aoki and the one with Marshmello, I’ve done some with Showtek… I’ve worked with Diplo, with Skrillex. I’ve worked with everyone I wanted to personally. Right now I’m just focusing on your own music. But if I were to choose someone famous, it would be Prince… or Michael Jackson… or Miles Davis. [Laughs]

 

What’s your advice for anybody who aspires to make their own music.

Just do it. The way I see it, the only person stopping you from doing it is yourself, right? If you wanna do something, you have all the ability to go out and do it. Ask questions. When I first started, I literally looked up: “How do I make a kick pattern?” Like, I didn’t know anything. Not a single thing. I didn’t even know how to like, put a piano on the computer. Be open to asking questions. Never be afraid to learn more, never be afraid to say you don’t know what you’re doing.

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