Otto Knows: You Oughta Know Him

You would know him from his big hit ‘Million Voices’, the instrumental tune that was probably ringing in your head all day and night throughout 2012. Otherwise, you should know him as one of the many young producers with rising potential in the EDM scene, as rated by renowned DJ-producers,  Tiësto and Sebastian Ingrosso. Featured in an episode of Pete Tong’s Young Stars on BBC Radio 1, JUICE managed to steal a private session with the rising star on the influences that sparked his interest in EDM, his thoughts on Sweden being the new DJ central, his relationship with Avicii, and most importantly, the famous club banger – ‘Million Voices’.

Hey, Otto! You’ve probably only arrived, but how do you find Malaysia so far?
It’s really nice, the people are really friendly, the tall buildings are there just as I expected (laughs).

Most of your fans are curious… why Otto Knows as a stage name?
It’s quite a funny story because it was during the time Sebastian Ingrosso and I were out in Sweden. I needed a name to call myself. There was a guy in Sweden whose last name was ‘can’, which means he ‘can’, and I ‘know’, so that’s how it came about. I feel like Otto Knows, it’s my name more or less, like it shows as a family name. It feels good now, so it fit in pretty well.

What inspired you to hop on board the EDM scene?
It was these 4 guys from Sweden; Eric Prydz, Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso. They were the DJs that I looked up to ever since the first time I saw them when I was 16. I realised they came at a very important time in my life and from then on, I made house music a big part of my life as well.

Sweden is the new DJ central now with such talents like Alesso, Swedish House Mafia, and Dada Life. Do you think there’s a specific reason behind this or  could it be pure coincidence?
Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s so hard to tell though. We’re all inspired by each other in some kind of way and we work hard to achieve our dreams. There’s not much to do because its dark and cold over there, so it’s hard to say why, but that’s how it is. I think we’re pretty creative in general as we also have a lot of designers coming from Sweden. I guess you can say the Swedes are creative by their own nature. Oh, not to forget, hardworking too.

‘Million Voices’ was a massive hit in 2012. Enlighten us on how the track came about.
Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso were working on their track, ‘Calling (Lose My Mind)’, in the studio next to mine. As I saw them working, I felt inspired to put my skills to work. I decided to do something weird, and there came ‘Million Voices’. Sebastian and Alesso came in to my studio afterwards and advised me to work on the track because it was something special.

Were you overwhelmed by the mad response?
Yeah, big time, definitely. We know it was a good track, but you will never expect a track so be so huge. We didn’t have any record label behind us at that time either, it was people who discovered it and told other people. It was an interesting way to me, because all music is more or less pushed by big labels telling the radios, “Play this or we won’t give you the next single!” So, it’s really cool to have people spreading the word, making the track such a big hit. However, it took a while – about a year to reach its status today.

You’ve worked with a lot of EDM stars. Who did you enjoy working with the most?
I’ll say everything I do with Alesso and Sebastian Ingrosso is special. We hang out a lot, we see each other as much as we can, talk to each other almost every day on the phone. We’re like a small family with the same kind of thoughts behind music, so it must be them for sure.

Most of us in KL are big Swedish House Mafia fans. As far as we know, you’ve opened for SHM’s One Last Tour a couple of times. How did that feel like?
For me, it was just amazing. As I said, they are my biggest inspirations that I have been looking up to since I was a kid. With the opportunity to be part of their last show, it was just incredible as I got to stand in front of a million SHM fans.

From the picture (above), we gather that you and Avicii go a long way back. How would you describe your relationship with him?
We have a close relationship, so you can consider us as good friends. We’re both busy with our own stuff as individuals, but when we meet, we usually have a good time together.

As a DJ, What will you consider your biggest achievement so far?
I think it must be ‘Million Voices’. To have a record sell that much as an instrumental is worth considering as an achievement. I just made the track, and the fans did the rest of bringing it to greater heights. So, I can’t only say it’s my own accomplishment, but the fans achievement in some kind of way. However, thus far, it has to be the biggest highlight of my career.

What can we expect from Otto Knows in 2013?
A lot more music, different music – more material from me, I hope. More tracks for the clubs, that’s for sure. It’s gonna be fun to do different collaborations with various people and I am sure it will be a great year.

Any advice for young, aspiring bedroom DJs out there?
Most importantly, work hard. Just believe in yourself and try to compare your music to other stuff to make it sound as good as possible. There are no shortcuts in life and you gotta work as hard as you can to achieve success.

Otto Knows played a smashing 3-hour long set  at Zouk Mainroom on Friday 12 April ’13. For more information, check him out on Facebook.