A music producer, songwriter, vocalist and sound engineer, Owethu Mtya splits his productions between 2 personas. The commercial OhGooch and the experimental Halo. Having worked with many of Cape Town's upcoming artists including Uno July, Gina Jeanz, G. Baby da Silva, SimmySimmyNya, Black Slim & Phresh Clique he has gained the attention of the Fife Avenue collective which is turning the tide on the perceived limitations of Cape Town's music scene. In studio to work on an EP with Phresh Clique we spoke to him about his passion for music, the evolution of his sound, his two personas, his thoughts on Cape Town's music scene and what he's been working on in studio.
You’re a vocalist, producer & songwriter. When did your passion for music start?
It started when I was in primary school. All of us used to stand around a bin cupping at break time and see who makes the greatest beat. From there it grew to going to music classes after school. I started with the drums. I fell in love with music in primary school. I learn the drums in one day. Then I went to the piano but that took me a few more. Then I fell in love with the recorder and went for lessons and it went on to me actually studying music further on from there.
You released your first music in 2015. What was your sound like then and who were your influences?
Back then my influences in music was my Auntie. She always used to play music in the house while she was cleaning and didn’t care if you liked it or not. I listened to a lot of her r&b music back in the day. Once I started studying and get to talk with some of my friends, they introduced me to trap and things like that. Slowly I started listening to their music. I started out as a producer, so I work closely with the artist. At the time I would just spend time with the artist just to understand the way they think, the music they listen to and then I gel to what they need. I record their vocals first and then make the beat to their vocal. So that’s how I started out. The moment where I started making some music where artists couldn’t really understand it I thought let me try to put some vocals on.
You have 2 personas, a commercial and an experimental side. When did the experimental side develop and how would you describe that sound compared to the commercial?
I’d say OhGooch is commercial. He’s more for the people. OhGooch has a very commercial hip hop/r&b sound. With Halo I’d say I always started life out as an introvert and I only became an extrovert because when you’re quiet people tend to want to speak for you and normally they’re wrong. So I started speaking out for myself. Once I started speaking out for myself, then I started making my own type of music. I had more confidence in making my own music.
I’m the type of person who loves meditating, who loves sometimes not talking at all just listening, learning a lot from life itself and that is my Halo side. There was one song that was inspired by a trip to Botswana where we went to the Makgadikgadi pans, the salt pans, dried out ocean. It’s so quiet there, so I mediated, sat down and even found a shell and that to me felt so beautiful to the point that when I went home I reminisced and made a song from that shell. It’s sound is a different type of pop, African-pop experimental almost like a Toya Delazy/Siya type sound. So that’s what I’d say is the difference between OhGooch and Halo. Halo rather makes music from what he learns through life and what life gives him and what the universe gives him.
You’ve worked with a lot of up and coming Cape Town artists. What do you think of the independent scene in Cape Town?
The independent music scene in Cape Town is rough. What I noticed is that Cape Town doesn’t really stick together. It’s more along the lines of “I’m gonna make moves, watch me.” It’s either you help me or you help yourself. When I met with Phresh Clique, I’d listened to their music and then I hit them up. From there we created a bond. With other people as I made music with other people it’s a great, beautiful bond but it’s just that song and then you move on.
With Phresh Clique it’s something that grew into something great. In Cape Town you’ll find once in a lifetime someone that you can actually grow with. That’s why I think a lot of the times we move to Joburg or we want to stay alone, because we can’t handle that ‘you fuck with me now, but later on you just leave me’. Cape Town has a lot to grow in terms of being together. If we can just be together we can grow together. We have our own sound, a different sound down here.
You’ve been working in Red Bull Studio for the past week. What kind of project have you been working on?
Me and Phresh Clique grew so much that we are actually working on a joined EP together that I can’t really talk about that much because it’s still in the making. We’re recording three to four songs. That’s what we’ve been doing in studio and K-Faith is going to be helping with the mix. It’s a great experience because here we feel calm. Whenever we’re in studios we don’t like it because there’ are other people out there who have this energy to them like they’re comparing you to someone else first, they don’t want you to be original. Over here you actually feel free. You won’t question yourself anymore. You can actually walk in here with your pajamas and no one will question you.
What are your plans for the future?
This EP is actually prior to another EP that I’m working on called ‘Borders’. ‘Borders’ is more along the lines of the two, OhGooch and Halo, where the one side of me won’t allow the one to go the other side. I want to be this person, but this person wants to be him. I won’t allow myself to do things because I know how my other side feels and it shouldn’t be the case. There is no border, you should always be you. You shouldn’t doubt yourself because doubt is poison to a human. It’ll kill you internally.
It’s gonna be a double disc. The OhGooch side and the Halo side. That’s the main project that I’m working on. The one with Phresh Clique is for the fans. We don’t really have a specific release date because our management is still going to sort everything out around our drops that we’re doing. We are actually planning on going to Joburg soon to meet up with those guys. There are talks of a tour but I don’t wanna say too much. We just want to make music with as many people as possible. As we said we want Cape Town to be together. If upcoming artists in Cape Town if we can always make music together I really think Cape Town will grow from that.