Oya Paya Interview: “We can’t be split up”

Oya Paya

Ʊ y ə Pa ɪ y ə EP is out now.

Sometimes I feel like there’s not enough eclectic randomness in music in 2017. Liverpool based indie trio Oya Paya are aiming to change that. Veering from guitar based indie rock flecked with a pop sensibility to vintage hip hop and on to bizarre Anthony Kiedis samples, these fellows simply don’t really give a jot for convention. It’s as refreshing as it sounds.

We recently had a sit down with the band to talk about deportation, veering from genre to genre, and how the trio cannot be separated.

Overblown: I am fascinated by how you are so willing to veer from one genre to another. Is that something that you think audiences are ready for?

Oya Paya: That is a spicy question. We never try to make our music fit within a genre, neither do we try to break boundaries. We just let the juices flow and leave the interpretation up to the listeners. Everyone hears music differently.

Overblown: Do you care if they’re ready?

Oya Paya: Not at all, We write songs we like to play and groove to. It is rewarding to see someone else dancing, head bopping it tapping their feet to, but if you’re aiming to please people, you’re probably going to miss the mark. Please yourself before you please someone else.

Overblown: Tell us a bit about your new track ‘Put My Record On’. What inspired the track musically? Thematically?

Oya Paya: It started like a lot of our tunes; a late night scrambling of ideas which we then had to work out how to play live. The lyrics came about because of a girl who left. Other songs had been written since her departure so the lyrics aim to symbolise a frustrating final attempt at getting her to listen to them. In fairness, the songs meaning will adapt to whoever listens to it.

When producing the track at home, we had multiple ideas on how to play with the hook. Once we had a clearer idea on what we wanted the track to sound like, we thought “Why the hell is there no vocoder here?!” And that’s kinda of the story really, just add 2000 hours of practice to the story and you’ve pretty much got the entire picture.

Overblown: According to Google, Oya Paya means ‘Oi found’ in Hindi. Does that have anything to do with anything at all?

Oya Paya: That’s absolutely hilarious, Ashwin’s father is a Hindu yet still we had no idea.

Oya paya comes from a Singaporean children’s game called Oh-ya-pay-ya-som. It’s used to split a group of kids into teams. Sort of like a more complex “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. Everyone stands in a circle says “oh ya pay ya som” together. On “som” you show your palm either face up or face down. Face-downers are one team, and face-uppers are the other. Life is half-chance.

In Oya Paya, the three of us always seem to show the same side of our palms, no matter how many times we play. We just can’t be split up.

Overblown: How is the fight to get your drummer Ashwin get back into the country? Can you explain what happened?

Oya Paya: it’s been a real roller-coaster ride to be honest. Being a Singaporean citizen, our drummer requires a work visa to enter the UK so we can start performing again. When Oya Paya was formed Ashwin was on a student visa, however that visa ended in November 2017. Ashwin graduated in August of 2017 and he decide to leave the country as he hadn’t been home in too long and he also did not want create any unnessasary trouble with immigration laws.

It’s been a real roller-coaster. Oya Paya began with Ashwin on a student visa. That visa has now expired and he requires a UK working visa in order to play shows. We had a pretty clear-cut plan in place through an organisation that sponsors musicians for working visas. However, recent changes in immigration laws have forced such companies to cease providing such services.

Our dearest friend is now back home in Singapore and it seems as though we need a sponsor in that of a booking agent, record label, or management company in order to bring him back. The irony of it all is that we need to perform in front of a lot of these people to get their attention but Ashwin is currently half way across the world.

We always knew this would not stop us from creating and recording music. There are more tunes in the pipeline that we have written and produced across oceans so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Overblown: Ashwin is from Singapore, Saam is UK-born, and singer Maxime is from France. Meanwhile, the band is based in Liverpool. Does this mixture of cultures and backgrounds influence the melting pot, experimental nature of the band?

Oya Paya: most certainly. We’re an odd trio who came from different corners of the globe, yet when we’re on stage together it feels like we grew up together.

Even though we’re all from different places, our taste in music appeared to cohere together. We all have different musical backgrounds and tastes but we like to share and mix it all up. It’s important for us not to limit ourselves to a genre in the music we create. We like to keep things interesting. Some how or rather, despite our contrasting cultural backgrounds, the three of speak the same musical language.

O: I love your track ‘Trip Advisor’. It’s like an indie version of Eminem. Can you tell us about the origins of the song?

Oya Paya: It started by being a pretty rubbish demo that we had started to loathe… Then someone found it funny to slow it way way down so it sounded like we recorded it in slow-mo and from that, we had the beat.

Trip advisor was another happy Accident that came alive whilst the three of were hanging out and jamming around ideas. It started as a fun jam but soon led to the absolutely wonky banger that it is.

Overblown: What is the dream for Oya Paya?

Oya Paya: we don’t mean to sound clichè but all we want is to write, play and make our spicy music together. It will be a bonus to be able to make a living from doing that.

If we could also have a world where visas and borders aren’t an issue too #worldpeace #can’twealljustgetalong that would be awesome.

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