The Spacey Sounds Of Scott Ohtoro’s New Album
There’s a 12-inch gold-plated record floating in space right now. It contains artifacts from Earth, including greetings in 55 languages, sounds from nature, and 27 songs from Bach to Bulgarian folk. Launched in 1977, it passed Pluto in 1990 and will take 40,000 years to reach the next planetary system.
If another civilization does encounter it, Earth’s story will successfully be transmitted to extraterrestrials.
Considering Honolulu’s closest record-pressing plant is 2,500 miles away, local artists might think it’s an equally daunting journey to put their music on a record.
Scott Ohtoro knows that’s not true. One-third of local hip-hop act Super Groupers, Scott recently released his debut beat album, When The Right Time, on digital, CD and vinyl.
In October 2013 — inspired by Flying Lotus, Samurai Champloo, and a trip to the Low End Theory Festival where artists like Teebs, Baths and Nosaj Thing perform experimental, spacey music exemplary of Los Angeles’ beat scene — Scott embarked on a journey to make an album with a powerful mood, a whimsical title and live instrumentation.
“Halfway through the album, I knew I had something special, something timeless,” Scott recalls. “Vinyl is perfect for that.”
But his journey would require patience. After creating his beats with an Akai MPC100 and Ableton software, Scott needed to find a vinyl manufacturer, master his music for vinyl (records are a physical medium with limitations different from digital), design the label and raise enough money to fund everything.
“When I was DJing in college, hip-hop records would usually list the vinyl production company. That’s how I found out about Rainbo Records. They pressed a lot of my favorite underground hip-hop records,” Scott explains.
“Find out everything about your favorite albums,” he recommends for anyone hoping to press their own. “I love everything from Stones Throw Records. I found out who masters their music and reached out to the [mastering studio].”
Scott also found inspiration in the work of Stones Throw designer Jeff Jank.
“Funding was the biggest challenge since we don’t live near a company that presses vinyl,” he says. “You need to be creative and never give up the passion.”
In March, Scott hosted a fundraiser with retailer About The Goods to raise money to press 100 vinyl copies of WTRT. Each album is individually numbered with custom covers hand-painted by Scott and friends.
“I’m a vinyl junkie, so it was awesome being able to create it from scratch,” Scott says.
The journey took about one year to complete.
“It was a long process but well worth it.” Scott’s decision to press When The Right Time to 12-inch vinyl records doesn’t mean aliens will discover his music in 40,000 years, but it does mean something: Maybe in 40 years one of our grandchildren will encounter it, dig up a turntable and be transported back to 2014.
“The day I got the physical copies was almost an out-of-body experience,” Scott says. “The music didn’t feel mine anymore, it felt like ours.”
For more from Roger, visit alohagotsoul.com.