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Öona Dahl: “I think as time goes on your ears and mind evolve in a sort of symbiosis”

Photo Credit: Galen Oakes

As a young girl in upstate New York, Öona Dahl was fascinated with music and loved listening to old cassette tapes in her living room. This passion quickly evolved and before long she began making musical sketches in Acid Pro and Fruity Loops. Wanting to experience electronic music on the dance floor, many excursions into the Toronto rave scene were made. Inspired by the DJs around her, she bought a pair of turntables and set about learning to mix records. Soon she was playing clubs, raves, and warehouses at the age of 17. These formative years crystallized Öona’s love of underground dance music. Today, Öona Dahl’s drive and artistic vision continue to elevate her work beyond the dance floor as a music producer, sound designer, vocalist, visual artist, and musical director.

After her participation in our EG Podcast series, we caught up with Öona Dahl to talk about her recent endeavors, thoughts on vision and sound, her evolution as an artist, and more.

EG: Hi Öona! Welcome to EG. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you with us. How’s your year going? What have you been up to?

Öona Dahl: Well, I recently finished my podcast for guys! Besides that, I’ve been working on new material since I recently got done with my first out-of-lockdown tour that lasted from August through November. I’ve become involved with 3D art during quarantine and now I’m working with a farm for cryptocurrency which includes a recent investment in a company. I’ve been getting a lot of tattoo work done! I’ve been flying around getting pieces by artists I admire, mostly blackwork.

EG: Indeed! Once again thank you for accepting the invitation for our EG Podcast. We really enjoyed journey. A sort of nostalgic kind of warmth. Is this a musical reflection of your winter? Do you particularly enjoy the season?

Öona Dahl: Yes, it does have a bit of nostalgia, but I feel a lot of my sets do this. I always love to equally incorporate new music along with older timeless records. It’s fun to throw something on I played 20 years ago. Yes, I would say the podcast is a reflection of how I’ve been feeling lately. I did get a little moody in the mix while working on it as the weather has been overcast and grim where I am. I love all the seasons, each one brings something special.

EG: Last year saw the release of your sophomore album, ‘MORPH’. What was the journey like? It’s a rather bold and powerful word, right? What does ‘MORPH’ mean to you?

Öona Dahl: ‘MORPH’ came to be because of lockdown. I do not think I would’ve had the time to finish any of those tracks in the timeframe I did if it wasn’t for being stuck in my house. In a way, I’m really grateful for that. MORPH’s title track was a poem I wrote about becoming one with the person you love. It also has to do with the creative force that drives my musical aesthetics. Weaving in and out, morphing styles and genres.

EG: You’ve obviously matured a lot in terms of sound since you first started out. Would you say that is a case of ‘refining a sound’, or ‘listening better to oneself’?

Öona Dahl: I think as time goes on your ears and mind evolve in a sort of symbiosis. I have been able to take myself out of my body and perceive myself from an outside perspective. I think since I have been producing music for 20 years now, I am able to really dial in what I hear in my head and translate it out of me. Early on it was more of a struggle to engineer what I was hearing inside onto my DAW. Now I find that it is much easier for me to do this. I think this comes with listening to music regularly and paying attention to detail.

EG: You also directed the official music video for ‘MORPH’ yourself. Did you enjoy the experience? Was this the first time directing something you also act in? Can we expect more Öona Dahl-directed videos in the future?

Öona Dahl: ‘MORPH’ was the seventh music video I have directed. A lot of my videos are self-portraits, if I am recording them myself it can get a little tricky. For ‘MORPH’, I was 7 months pregnant, so I wanted to shoot profile only. The editing was my favorite so far as I had the full idea beforehand of morphing the visuals of myself to slowly become one based on the lyrics of the song. The outcome of the video was exactly how I imagined it so that made me feel like I really accomplished my original vision. I always plan to record more videos when I have the time. I tend to keep the music videos around my productions that have vocals.

EG: Apart from being a director, you’re also a visual artist. What is the importance of visual aids in a ‘sonic’ medium?

Öona Dahl: For me, visual and sonic mediums go hand in hand. That’s why I am always trying to portray this otherworldly realm between the two.

“I always love to equally incorporate new music along with older timeless records. It’s fun to throw something on I played 20 years ago”

EG: Let’s step inside your studio. What’s cooking right now? Have you found any cool gear or software in the past few months? In a broader picture, do your consider yourself to be more of a ‘digital’ person, or an ‘analog’ one?

Öona Dahl: I got a little crazy and started buying all the new Behringer remakes like the TD-3, RD-8, MS-1, 2600, to name a few. My favorite synth is the Virus Access TI Snow. In the broad spectrum of my career as a producer, I would have to say a digital person. I was brought up in the early 00s with not a lot of money so I would crack my own production software. I was always on my computer ever since I was a child, fixing family members virus’ or any computer issues they would have. I would even dissect computers to really see how they worked…I guess this makes me analog too. I do love being in the box that is where I am most comfortable and where my expertise is. Now that my hardware collection is growing, I have noticed my sound evolving and my music is becoming even more where my heart is, sonically. I’ve always been attracted to raw drum sounds in house tracks so it only makes sense that I would have this natural progression. To answer the questions, I would have to say I am a little bit of both now!

EG: What else can we expect from Öona Dahl in the future? What new milestones are you looking forward to in 2022?

Öona Dahl: In 2022 I’ll be focusing on a new artistic endeavor that involves a debut immersive art installation. I also have a new secret alias where I will be keeping my identity hidden.

EG: It all sounds very interesting! We’re looking forward to that! Thank you for your time Öona! We wish you all the best for the future!

Öona Dahl: Thank you guys!

Öona Dahl’s ‘Reverie’ is out via All Day I Dream. Purchase your copy here.

Follow Öona Dahl: Spotify | Facebook | SoundCloud | Instagram

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