INTERVIEW: Animals Dancing duo Otologic
If you live in Melbourne, it’s safe to say you’ve heard of Otologic…
A name which seems to carry a cool breeze with it, Otologic are two of Melbourne’s most respected selectors. Known to their friends as Tom and Nick, they’re the pair behind the notorious local imprint Animals Dancing, and the friendly faces you’ve likely seen perched behind the counter at Sky Diver record store. They are a a duo heavily consumed by Melbourne’s club patrons, and their dedicated fanbase comes in spades: Southsiders, Northsiders; partygoers who’ve spent decades going to parties, and bright-eyed 18-year-olds eager to dive within the depths of Melbourne’s underground. Not to mention their relentless ability to curate events with guests like Marcellus Pittman, Larry Heard, Pender Street Steppers, and Hunee (and that is just a few of the names who’ve appeared on posters next to the now iconic symbol of a dancing bear).
Whether performing at Mercat (RIP), Sub Club, Lounge (also RIP), Boney or Section 8, they’re known for crafting extensive DJ sets that weaves left of centre dance genres with an elegance pertained only by those who are deeply in tune with their own style. As the proud, overly affectionate city that we are, Melbourne keeps the duo as a metaphorical trophy on our musical mantelpiece for their ability to keep us in the big leagues. Their monthly residency on NTS Radio is one example of their international acclaim, as well as having featured at global nightclubs OHM, ://aboutblank, and Griessmuehle in Berlin, Sub Club in Glasgow, and The Cause in London.
International gigs aside, if you ask any fan to name their favourite Otologic moment it’ll surely be that time they sat on a hill with dozens of mates watching Otologic close out Meredith festival. Or maybe it is that time they played funk and disco tracks beneath the sun at Fairfield Amphitheatre in Melbourne’s north armed with big smiles and good vibes. Ahead of their upcoming set this weekend opening up for Detroit legend Kyle Hall, we spoke to Tom & Nick of Otologic and asked them all about their secrets to success.
How did you guys meet, and how did you know you wanted to venture into the music industry together?
We properly met whilst working clearing glasses at a bar when we were 18. The bar had advertised for staff through old Melbourne club 3rd Class, and we found our music tastes aligned and DJing together spawned from there.
Your collaborative imprint Animals Dancing can be considered one of the most reputable labels within the local scene, and for the most part it represents Australian artists on a global stage. What about the local industry sets us apart from European dance music capitals, or do you think we’re pretty similar?
The only thing that really sets us apart from the European dance capitals is our isolation! Local audiences are just as switched on and knowledgable as a lot of the historic dance capitals, and it is funny seeing first time visiting DJs being surprised by this (although this happens less and less and word spreads).
With so many notorious venues shutting down and interstate nightlife laws becoming more restricted, what do you see happening within the future of Melbourne’s nightlife?
It is sad to see so many inner-city clubs closing down, as we feel one of Melbourne's greatest qualities was how central the venues were in turning the CBD into a late-night playground. However the demand in Melbourne is there, and people will adapt as venues spread outside of the city and more exciting/unusual spaces are utilised.
Are there any lesser known artists that you’re really excited about and think will do well?
Always! There are way too many to list, especially locally. Artists like Furious Frank, Emma Stevenson and Vanessa Worm are all killing it, as are Nosedrip, Customs, Fergus Clark and the 12th Isle crew, not to mention heaps more overseas - some of whom you might catch in Australia soon…
What’s your dream festival or nightclub to play?
Festivals are usually pretty hard to really express your range with a short amount of time and a lot of people to please, but Meredith must be one of the exceptions. We have played some great clubs here and around the world like Cocktail D'amore, Sub Club, Opium Club and of course our beloved Mercat. Anything that can match any of those would be great to play too.
You’re about to play alongside Kyle Hall and other local mates of yours at the Red Bull presents: 1800-DOOF event. Are you quite meticulous when planning what you play at an event, or do you wait to get a vibe when you’re there?
We like to play a lot of different styles of music, so when planning a warm up set for a headline DJ we like to play our take on what we think would best compliment the headline DJ. I think it is important to be humble and leave the headline DJ with the best possible platform to do their thing. For a bigger event like 1800-Doof, we would aim to get the energy up a little more during our set. Occasionally we will check with the other to see what kind of vibe they are thinking, but we are almost always thinking the same. Other than that we just take a selection of music and see which direction we go on the night.
Finish these sentences:
A song I’m embarrassed to love is:
La Isla Bonita by Madonna, but not actually that embarrassed
Otologic sounds like: loud noises
The local music industry needs: a perfect club
The best party we’ve ever played at is: C Grade
The last record I bought is: Hava - Eyes Of Jah
The hardest part about curating Animals Dancing is: each other
A great closing track is: The Upsetters - Dub It