Okabe Talks Musical Inspiration, Songwriting And Soul Searching

Kat Harlton

Okabe was born out of the ashes of a Canadian rock n roll band. After a decade of slogging through dive bars to arenas, touring with bands like The Offspring and opening for the likes of Aerosmith and Slash, Vancouver based outfit Pigeon Park eventually burned out.

Following a soul searching sabbatical travelling and busking around the world, rediscovering his identity, a decision was made for a fresh start – a decision to carry his own project. With that, a move to Australia followed where Okabe cut his teeth in the Melbourne music scene, honing in on his sound.

Enter a move back to Canada and his first single release. Blending an alternative sound with inspiration stemming from blues, jazz, and hip hop, Passing Cars is the culmination of his efforts and a move towards a new musical direction.

We had the opportunity to chat with Okabe and talk musical inspiration, songwriting and soul searching.

Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your debut single “Passing Cars”?

Okabe: I started playing around with this song while I was living in Montreal, I wrote the riff looking out the window during a heavy snowfall and the lyrics came while I was busking in the metro, just looking out into the sea of people improvising things until something came that stuck.

Kat: For someone that has never heard your music before, how would you describe it to them?

Okabe: I always have trouble defining things with a blanket genre, it varies from song to song but I suppose there is an underlying element of Indie Rock that is present, blended with some blues, and jazz elements I suppose.

Kat: Can you talk about your songwriting process, does it differ from song to song?

Okabe: Yeah definitely, I usually play around with some chord changes and fall into some sort of groove, then usually I kind of just hear the vocal melody in my head while I’m playing through the changes. As I play through it enough times, it kind of takes flight from there and the melody will change and progress. I also like to take a few passes through playing some guitar leads over it as well to try and find some instrumental melody lines throughout.

Kat: You mention a “soul searching sabbatical” travelling and busking around the world, including a move to Australia, can you talk about how that influenced your music?

Okabe: A whole lot. While I was playing in my previous band, we had a whole lot of auxiliary hands in the pot trying to stir up some semblance of commercial success and that took it’s toll on me, and not to take anything away from those days because I got to do some really cool things but it kind of killed the joys of writing for me. Now when I write, I write music for me and that in itself is refreshing. I really enjoy not being so concerned about the mainstream and just doing what I like to do again.

Kat: Is there an artist you’d like to perform with, that you haven’t had the chance to yet. Or a song you’d love to do a cover of?

Okabe: I think playing with Mac Demarco would be pretty awesome.

Kat: What’s next?

Okabe: I’m recording a new single that I’m pretty stoked on in January and right after that I’m moving out to Toronto to delve into the scene out there.

For more on Okabe click here

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