A truly graphic artist: Ohmega Watts on music & culture

April 13, 2010 at 11:10 Leave a comment

Photo: muni _ Graphics: Milton Campbell

Ohmega Watts has found many ways of expressing himself. He’s a lyricist / music producer, a man of records and a graphic designer. Mr Watts has designed record sleeves, done magazine layouts and worked for various companies as a freelance designer.

If that wasn’t enough, he’s also relased some truly fine records on California’s Ubiquity and tres labels (as part of the Lightheaded Crew). From his base in Portland, Oregon, he reached out and stepped into the Beat Bungalow to speak about what music, art and culture mean to him.

So go ahead, read what’s written – and if you’ve not already done so, you need to be wylin’ out to the Platypus Strut. enough said.

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Your first album was called „The Find“ – is that a reference to digging & finding that million dollar sample? Is vinyl still important to you in the age of mp3?

The Find was a nod to crate digging as well as a spiritual personal find in my life, or being found, and finding purpose and direction in my life as a musician and visual artist. To answer the 2nd half of the question, vinyl is still pretty important to me.
Every so often I liquidate certain records or trade them for others I find out about or have been looking for. I just recently completed my Sylvers collection with the 3rd ‘Self Titled’ Album Sylvers III. I got them all in order from 1-3. I consistently dig as long as funds permit, and I like to be surprised by finding gems, rather than someone always telling me, or a BLOG showing me what’s fresh.

What are some of the things you’ve thought about recently and have written lyrics about?

I actually don’t write unless I have a project or song feature to write for. I’m usually doing graphic design for various clients, spinning records at spots and staying creative in visual communication. So in that realm and any current music projects (my group Lightheaded’s 3rd LP) I focus on life topics, the good and bad, but more importantly, empowering the listener to be happy with who they are, and not get caught up on the hype of any musician or public figure… not to sell themselves short, and to be active in their community and bring positive change. That pertains to music and visuals where applicable.

You’ve worked with Jneiro Jarel, Quantic and many others – how did those collaborations shape you as a musician / artist?

I can say just meeting Quantic while we both were visiting the Bay Area and the VP of Ubiquity records back in mid ’04 or ’05, linking with Will aka ‘Quantic’ it was one of my 1st introductions to learning about afro-beat music, beyond Fela and deepening my expanding musical palette at the time. Other than that, both Quantic and Jneiro are 2 great producers with different styles yet pretty versatile in their respective production methods, which lined right up with myself being pretty diverse in sound scape and musical influences… it just influenced me knowing there are other great peers out there keeping good music progressive.

Your heritage is Jamaican, have you ever been back to Jamaica in the last couple of years? What were your impressions, any interesting stories to tell?

I was back there in ’07 for a family reunion and I got to meet a lot of extended family from my mom’s side, as a lot of my dad’s family were on the other side of the island and the timing and logistics didn’t work in favor of having them all there, but it was a good time to see a lot of family that I had no clue about. It was a good time spending 2 weeks in the country in Christiana, which is a city in Manchester one of the 14 parishes that make up Jamaica! It was pretty inspirational, a lot of memories spending time with my grandmother (my mother’s Mom) the only grandparent I got to meet when I was 8 years old. I saw her grave stone and had a quiet moment reflecting. I hope to go back soon and just relax and get to know my cousins better.

Are there any dub or reggae musicians that you rate highly and could listen to non-stop?

Hmmmm, never been the biggest collector or listener of reggae and dub, until lately… but I can toss out Jackie Mitto, Studio One’s roster of artists, and the classic 80s roots rock reggae artists along with some early to mid-90s dancehall.

You also do graphic design work and have designed your own record sleeve – have you done anything in that respect recently?

You can check out works I’ve currently done @ www.brokinnglish.com That is my design portfolio site. The name is a play off of my West Indian culture, which has a distinct broken English sound. I worked at Adidas’ U.S. headquarters in Portland, OR, for about 18 months from ’07 to ’08, and still freelance some works for them, as well as various other jobs for firms or companies. I also have a group called M64 which is me on production and my friend ‘Ragen Fykes’ a female singer/songwriter on the vocals. We released a 500 count limited 7inch on www.recordbreakin.com and I designed and shot the photos for the ’45 as well.

The last one: where can people catch you on record, on tour, online? Anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks for the interview. Stay tuned to www.tresrecords.com and a ear open for NEW Lightheaded material. That’s my group with MCs Othello & Braille for this year sometime hopefully. Then, I’m in the works with Ragen on an M64 album. Other than that, you can keep up with my blog which consists of photography, design, music and things I like including some of my own works @ www.brokinnglish.tumblr.com

Peace and blessings.

Thanks;

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