Swedish producer Opolopo chooses five boogie faves
by Andrew Mason
When the promo of Opolopo’s Kick and Bass Rerub of vocalist Gregory Porter’s “1960 What?” landed in November of 2011, it immediately became a mainstay of DJ sets around the world. The muscular rework was that rare blend of sophisticated and thumping that so few producers seem to get right and it appealed to everyone from deep, jazzy types to up-for-it dancers. With Superconductor, out this week on Z Records, we finally get a whole album’s worth of sophisticated and thumping tracks, and it’s been worth the long wait.
Although “Opolopo” sounds like something a desperate Scrabble player might make up when stuck with too many vowels, those familiar with Yoruban know that the word means “plenty,” as in “a lot of.” The Swedish producer has, until recently, not quite lived up to that description when it comes to songs under his own moniker—being known lately for his remixes of other people’s material—but that has just changed with the release of his new full-length album.
Opolopo was born Peter Major, and had a father who played keys in a cover band that toured around Europe. “He had synths at home that I would mess around with,” Major recalls, “the influence was massive.” Major is self-taught on the keys, however: “I tried taking lessons as a kid but was too impatient and more interested in tinkering with my own stuff.” That tinkering paid off, as those who’ve caught his live set—a multifaceted affair combining records with Ableton Live, an APC40 controller, a keyboard and vocoder-laced mic—will attest.
A quick glance at the credits for Superconductor shows vocal contributions from bonafide R&B legends Keni Burke, Diane Charlemagne (of 52nd Street) Taka Boom (Chaka Khan’s younger sister) as well as modern veterans like Colonel Red and Pete Simpson. These vocal giants certainly add to the proceedings, but the real stars are the nuanced arrangements and music that shows a clear love and deep appreciation of ’80s boogie.
As a special treat for Wax Poetics readers, Opolopo has shared five favorites from the era of classic electric funk. His new album, Superconductor, is out now on all formats, via Z Records.
1. Con Funk Shun “Ain’t Nobody Baby”
“This one is from the To the Max album. I grew up with my dad’s record collection of mainly jazz and jazz-funk/fusion records. This one was one of the rare funk/boogie albums he bought, and it had a big influence on me.”
2. Tyrone Brunson “The Smurf”
“Another big track for me growing up. I was mainly into instrumental music, and I loved the electro sound. I was also a sucker for (still am) slapped bass, so this one ticked all the boxes.”
3. Narada Michael Walden “Shake It Off”
“Heavily syncopated with piercing brass stabs and—whaddayaknow—slapped bass! Broken Beat, fourteen years before West London.”
4. Dayton “The Sound of Music”
“Maybe a lazy pick but it’s such a beautiful tune. Classy and still funky with gorgeous vocoder all over the place. Played to death but it still holds up. Which leads me to…”
5. D-Train “Music”
“Another ‘obvious’ pick but many people have spotted D-Train as an influence for my album so I have to mention this duo. Killer synth parts, arrangements and vocals!”
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