Hey Owen Bones, thanks for be part of our series. Can you tell us a little about Owen Bones and is that your real name?
Thanks for inviting me! My real name is Owen *Jones* (clever, I know). Owen Bones is a bit like my alter ego. He does things I might not.
Pigeons and Planes just premiered “Mach One” the lead single off your debut album Dive Club and described it as one of your finest displays of production. Tell us about the track.
The beat was made earlier in the year in one sitting, and I knew right away that it had some special qualities. A close friend of mine was sitting in while I made it, and we imagined it might sound a bit like the inside of a spacecraft during intergalactic travel…the theme stuck, and the name was saved. When picking beats for the full project, I had been listening to a lot of Tunji, and I thought his voice fit. Same with Aaron – he was actually the first person to hear the beat.
How did you get into music production and what have been some of your biggest obstacles so far?
I bought a Maschine when I was 16, and I hammered away for years getting comfortable with different software. First I wanted to make rap instrumentals, then I wanted to make dubstep because of Skrillex, and then I spent a good four years making whatever would come out of my head. The biggest obstacle that I faced, and still face, is defining what my sound is. I find it difficult to make more “experimental” music that is also easy and accessible to play live.
We read the album is said to be a concept album about a diver. Can you give us some more insight and walk us through the Field Operations Manual?
I have been scuba diving since I turned 12, so spending time underwater is very important to me. I feel that diving has taught me a lot of lessons, the most important of which is the necessity of exploring the unknown. Dive Club as a project is meant to draw a comparison between the experience of a diving, and the experience of exploring the depths of new ideas. The Field Operations Manual gives some context to that metaphor – Dive Club is a secret government organization that employs the divers I’m talking about!
Dive Club will feature guest appearances from The Cool Kids, Mothica, Saba, Tunji Ige and lil aaron. How do you go about enlisting artists to collaborate with you and can you walk us through the recording process?
Each artist was different. For example, Mothica and lil aaron are my friends, so I sent them music and asked if they wanted to be involved. I recorded with Mothica in person, but every other artist sent me the files digitally and I was never in the same room as them to record. I reached out to Saba and Tunji, and The Cool Kids were introduced to me by my management.
How has your sound evolved since the release of your Surrender EP?
The main change I have noticed is that I’m now shooting for a much more live, organic sound. There are still some very electronic sounding beats on Dive Club, but most of the instrumentals use “live” drums and other organic instruments in place of synths and effects. I’ve also become much more confident in making “weird” stuff…I’m totally unconcerned with making music for DJ sets.
Chicago is home to some of the hottest acts — Kanye West, Chance The Rapper, Frankie Knuckles, Mark Farina — how has growing up in a dynamic city influenced your sound?
More than anything, it has encouraged me to experiment. Making music and trying trying to innovate have always been my main interests, and I owe that to the fast paced nature of culture in the city. All of my peers were doing the same thing. For example, a lot of the Savemoney guys went to my high school. I watched the genesis of Chace, Towkio, and Vic up close. I figured, “I can do that, too.”
You recently performed the Spotify Fresh Finds showcase, which was broadcast live on their Snapchat and your single “Mach One” was featured in their New Music Friday playlist. What was that experience like and how has being featured in their New Music Friday playlist exposed you to a wider audience?
The support from Spotify has been game-changing. After Stuntman, a song from my last EP, was featured on their Fresh Finds playlist, it was the #1 viral song in the US for a few days. It’s hard to wrap your mind around that many people hearing something you made. I gained 100,000 new listeners overnight from New Music Friday. It has empowered me, knowing that I am making music that is resonating with people around the world. Access to that many ears has been transformative, not just for my career, but for my creative process.
What’s next for Owen Bones? Any shows we should be aware of?
The full Dive Club project will be out before December, and I’m performing with Machinedrum in Chicago on October 6th. Beyond that, I can’t talk about anything else yet – keep an eye out, though. I’ll be playing more shows before the year ends, and I’m already thinking about what kind of music is coming next.