In early February, newly formed group OE will release an EP you didn’t even know that you’ve been dying to hear. Singer/songwriter Omar Aragones and musician/producer Erik Washington have recently undergone a momentous merger resulting in the birth of their forthcoming EP, Introe. Although the duo has kept their project under wraps, PLAYGROUND DETROIT had a chance to catch up with the artists for a taste of the finished product.
The impending OE release is cleverly titled “Introe,” alluding to the fact that this is the first project this duo has worked on together. Both are members of Detroit’s sweltering R&B/soul group ONEFREQ; and as an extracurricular activity the pair decided to form an new exclusive project, releasing subsequently to ONEFREQ’s upcoming Freqtape EP. Aragones and Washington are stoked to let the world hear their first project together as OE. They recently released Introe’s debut track, “Kylo” a love song that acquaints trance and soul as it simultaneously showcases Washington’s experimental production and Aragones’ resonant and drifting vocals. Aragones explains, “It’s the first work we’ve done together. It came together organically and we’ve learned a lot from it. This is just the beginning.”
Why branch off with their own project? “We were writing songs together that deviated from the live band feel that ONEFREQ started doing at the time. Introe is more overted, downbeat, and resonates more with Erik and I than the other members of ONEFREQ. Where ONEFREQ channels outward, loving and lustful relationships, Introe is like an inward ethereal conversation about life, ego, death and God,” explains Aragones.
Both artists share that the city of Detroit has a great impact on their musical perspectives, as well as their desire and ability to create. “I came up in the Southwest Detroit/ Dearborn area working with my dad on our rental properties and singing at a Hispanic church off of West Vernor Hwy, which is now a small market. Most all of the people in the neighborhoods were Arab, Polish or Mexican and someone was always bumping freestyle music –Stevie B, lil suzy or Tupac. Having your own convertible Ford Mustang was the dream. Those were the golden years for me. My parents then moved us to Canton for high school, then I moved back when I attended WSU and started doing music,” Aragones recalls.
Although he has been commuting to Detroit to make and play music for years, Washington is a newer import to the city. Originally from Romulus, Michigan Erik lived in Washtenaw County prior to this year. He felt that with doing so many collaborations around town and working with ONEFREQ it only made sense to move to the place where he had been performing live, recording music, practicing in bands and making innumerable connections in the industry and in his personal life. Conclusively OE explains, “We thrive on diversity, the experience here in Detroit has connected us to so many inspiring individuals from different racial, musical and spiritual backgrounds.”Although OE emits a sound distinguishable from ONEFREQ, Aragones and Washington retain an ardent and soulful nature while tweaking the composition to journey listeners through a surreal and lucid reverie. As producer and percussionist Erik Washington explains, “It’s got a chill and electronic post R&B feel. We were into a minimalistic approach and found influence listening to other duo acts such as Majid Jordan and Majical Cloudz. It became an experiment of ours to create a sound that felt like it existed in a simulated dream world.” Aragones found inspiration in a popular mindfrick of a show, Black Mirror. He describes, “The project feels to me like The Black Mirror Episode ‘San Junipero’, which portrays this futuristic view of simulation theory where the characters can choose to live in this beautiful simulated city forever after they die. It feels bleak but it’s’ beautiful at the same time. “OE hopes that when listeners close their eyes, they will find themselves getting lost in the sounds.
Simultaneously working on the ONEFREQ and OE projects, the two artists have put in overtime playing shows, recording, mixing and creating in Detroit. ONEFREQ’ s upcoming EP was recorded and mixed in various locations including Stone House (Grand Rapids) with Peter Fox, Duderstahdt (Ann Arbor) with Yuri Ramo, and Assemble Sound with Detroit’s Eddie Logix.
The Freqtape is released January 30, 2017. “Introe” was crafted in a Detroit DIY method, with home recordings in Southwest Detroit -shoutout to Angela Gallegos- and Canton, Michigan. Anthony Cipolla and Young Heavy Souls label head Matt Blaq assisted OE with mixing on the Introe album which will release at the beginning of February.
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–Words by Hailey Dukes. New kid on the block and sponge for all things Detroit. Student to this earth and the people, places, and things on it. Walking an unceasing journey to observe, feel, analyze, understand. Inspire me! Follow Hailey on IG @wolf___hailey // Twitter @heyygirllhai