OYLS (pronounced “oils”) consists of LA bred, David and Michael who met 5 years back. There was an incident amongst friends that resulted in David traveling to a residence to apologize. It just so happened that Michael was there working on a song and that night, they started recording. “Karmas either very forgiving, or does not exist”, states David as we paddleboated in the middle of the Echo Park lake soaking in the sun. It was the boys idea to rent a paddleboat on this gorgeous Sunday, versus your standard coffee shop interview and it couldn’t have been a better idea. We talked while dodging the 100 foot “geyser” in the middle of lake as well as raced 12 year olds for a total of 10 feet before quitting and being called “girlies”. After that first impromptu recording session, Michael phased into a 2 and a half year hiatus from lack of inspiration while David continued making music that he wasn’t too proud of.
Coincidentally, they both ended up going to school in Norcal; David at UC Berkeley and Michael at UC Davis. While in school, Michael began going through a tough time with a break up that David became aware of. With this in mind he set forward to rekindle the musical relationship they’d built a couple years back, hoping that this rough patch Michael was going through would ignite some kind of inspiration. On the train over to Davis, David fiddled with a song he had in progress and when he reached Michael, they laid down some vocal work. By that night, the song “Dots and Dashes” had a rough cut as well as the creation of a new signature sound that would become a part of several of their future projects. “It just kind of happened – the name, the music and the fact we decided to make music together all happened within the span of about 24 hours.” OYLS became a real thing.
I brought up the topic of genre, and it took us a while to pin one on the music these two produce. Dots and Dashes was created with what David had in his college house: A microphone, trombone, guitar and a computer. They sent it out to friends and got a great response. “[The success of the track using these instruments] was a happy coincidence and now it’s much more deliberate”. They decided to continue producing music with these instruments, moving forward by attempting to base their stuff off of music they liked, like that of James Blake. The songs never really succeeded at imitating the sound they originally wanted, but this became their blessing in disguise. “We made our music by being really bad at imitating”, the guys laughed but they were being serious. “We like to experiment with what’s contemporary and throw in our interpretations and influences”. I was very intrigued by this creative process, as it made something positive and unique out of something other musicians may deem negative or frustrating. The boys also pull inspiration from and grew up listening to a wide range of talented acts like Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan, Wilco, Rhye and other music that’s not very OYLS-EY like The Mars Volta.
They both have very strong musical backgrounds. Michaels dad is a talented pianist and claims he used the pianos keys to teeth when he was a baby. Later on in life, he picked up the guitar “because it was the cool thing to do” and continued from there. For David, it began in 4th grade when his class was forced into a room with instruments and he was the only kid that could make a sound come out of the Trombone and Baritone. Turns out his grandfather had played the Baritone in the army so his grandmother had one stashed away. Still, he really didn’t embrace music as a passion until his parents purchased a keyboard that also had the ability to record. He spent hours and hours in his room with it and started to build his current 11 year old home studio from there.
The duo have only played two shows, both in Davis, that didn’t go as good as they’d hoped. They’re currently preparing a whole new live show experience that allows for complete and total control over their set at any given moment. “We want to have the control and flexibility to jam on a part instead of the song just beginning and ending as if it were prerecorded.” They want to create a set where “any part of the song is manipulative and malleable” so they can vibe out, remix, replay, etc. any part of the song. Michael and David want to have an on stage dynamic and strength in communication that will allow them the ability to respond to each other and each others created sounds. All I can say is, this show will be nothing less than epic. We chatted later about our love for live music and how great artists can deliver whole new experience for fans in a live setting. That’s what their goal is, first and foremost.
The boys are currently revamping their stuff and planning for a live private set next week that will hopefully be the beginning of more LA shows. Their Soundcloud account has a handful of fantastic material; each song consistently amazing, no doubt from the amount of diligence and care that goes into everything they do. They plan on eventually organizing these songs, and possibly more, into the form of an official EP.
Besides writing amazing lyrics and creating with David, Michael is also passionate about cooking, seeing live music, and meeting and being in the presence of new people. His favorite animal is baby goats. David hardly strays away from music production and left me with one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard a musician say, “I love helping people realize music. There’s such a difference between a great song and a great song realized.” His favorite exotic animal is the penguin and his favorite domestic animal, the rabbit.
I love these dudes unique and innovative style as well as their approach to music and their craft. I have no doubt they’ll have a very successful music career!
Stream ‘Undone’ and ‘Maps’ and watch the insane, but perfectly bizarre music video for ‘Dots and Dashes’ below.
Photos taken by: Amiya Bardon – Photo Editing: Tyler Sadler