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In Conversation with Octo Octa

Exploring connection on the dancefloor

The dancefloor is a sacred realm for fostering connections, affection, and togetherness — an arena for personal expression, all embraced by the allure of music’s unifying rhythm. Maya Bouldry-Morrison, renowned as OCTO OCTA, weaves these bonds into her craft, DJ-ing and producing tunes that resonate and reverberate through the club. Expanding her musical catalogue with tracks that consistently draw a fervent crowd of funk-driven revellers, Octo Octa now presents her latest EP, Dreams of a Dancefloor. In a recent conversation, we had the pleasure of discussing the significance of this release in the context of dancefloor culture with Octo Octa and her feelings coming out of the post-festival season high.

Hey, it’s nice to meet you! How was the festival season over summer? It must have been a busy time for you, as you played at events across Europe and America.
2023’s festival season has been very long for me as I have been playing a ton, but all around I’ve been happy to share my music in so many places. I don’t live in Europe so it’s a lot of trips back & forth from the US and staying in different cities every week. I am happy though to record shop all over the world because of the travel!

Nice! You must have discovered some gem records within the crates… Taking it back to the start, your first EP was released in 2011, how would you describe your sonic journey since then?
It’s been iterative, creative, and freeing. Each record I have put out I have tried to not repeat my previous work. I also made a decision early on that I wanted essentially all of my music to come out under the moniker “Octo Octa” so that I could explore any kind of music. I think there’s a thorough line in all of my releases where it all sounds like it came from me regardless of the sonic palette.

We love Dreams of a Dancefloor. What can you tell us about the EP?
This is the EP that I have spent the most time on the music that was released. I started it during lockdown and spent the past three years slowly engineering the songs between tours and really trying to understand how to make my records sound their best on club soundsystems. It’s also part of a continued exploration of trans love and connection on a dancefloor; sharing space, time, and love together.

Dreams of a Dancefloor captures the essence of  togetherness within underground dance culture. How much of your creative process do you feel is impacted by dance culture itself, both playing shows and being amongst the crowd?
It’s impossible to not have experiences of being a touring DJ, I only come back into the studio when I’m back home. For a long time I only played live sets and DJed very little until I made a choice to really focus on DJing. For my live sets I would improvise a lot and create these tracky fleeting moments that would stick with me and propel the next body of work. Now I am, essentially, only a DJ when on tour, playing mostly older records, and really thinking about the elements of those songs that stick with me. It’s nearly impossible for me to recreate someone else’s sound, but it can all be very inspiring. The trance and progressive records I love playing absolutely inspired the longest song on the new EP “Late Night Love”; I made sure to have some moments of the song that were less busy, so that simpler elements could really ring out on the dancefloor and pull people together. Those throbbing moments also move me deeply on a dancefloor.

I love that you’ve emulated something that move both you and your fans towards the dancefloor. The synergy in your music is also present through the collision of trance-like hypnotic waves and streaks of energetic beats. Musically, what were some of your starting inspirations going into this EP?
The first I can think of is Bedrock Feat. KYO – For What You Dream Of…, I play the instrumental edit of it when DJing sometimes. I first heard it on an older Sasha mix when they were still working on it that came out maybe a year before the song was even released. It changed quite a bit between that mix and the final release. I also read that they all spent years on some of their songs so that they would sound their best; that really made me think it was ok to work a couple years on a song to get it just right. If it has the magic in it then it doesn’t matter when it comes out! 

I love that track, it also fits perfectly in the Trainspotting soundtrack! The music reflects a sense of community and emotional connection, but the title ‘Dreams of a Dancefloor,’ hints at capturing something beyond reality. What’s the inspiration behind the title?
So many incredible moments in my life have been on a dancefloor and it’s that possibility that keeps me wanting to be in these spaces and try to translate what I see and feel about this music to other people.

The release is a big moment! How are you going to celebrate?
I am back home for a while after a long year so I am excited to work on music to celebrate! I get so little studio time and I have a lot of gear I can’t wait to play with. I get to express myself so thoroughly with DJing and making music so I need my time to be creative. 

Nice, I can’t wait to hear what you’ll create next!