“The size of the Anjunabeats family is thousands of people, and maybe 10% know about me.”
This will soon change for 24-year-old Staffordshire, England-bred producer, Ocula (real name Brad Littler), who is enjoying the success of his latest EP.
Released on January 23, 2020, via Lane 8‘s recording label, This Never Happened, “Summit” encompass more “energy” and has a greater “live appeal” when playing to club-goers than past releases.
“I recently opened for him (Lane 8) in London, and he wanted this record to broaden my horizons a bit,” said Ocula as we settled in for our brief chat. “There are a few tracks that are still chill, but you can hear the others are of a higher tempo to get the crowd into it more when I play them live. So, I think this EP is a natural progression of my sound.”
A sound that began when he was a child. His father, a DJ himself when he was younger, would play music from his office that Ocula took an instant liking. “My dad would always play Deadmau5 and Skrillex,” remembers Ocula. “It turned quickly from me just casually listening to the music to my wanting to know how they, especially Deadmau5, made those sounds and songs.”
Spending unlimited hours on YouTube, and watching countless tutorials, Ocula naturally educated himself by using production softwares, Reason 5 to Logic, and now Ableton, to learn how Deadmau5 made his music quickly.
“I would play around with loops,” said Ocula. “I was having fun even though most of my friends in High School were into sports. When I would make something and post it online, it wouldn’t receive any interaction, but I was enjoying myself!”
After High School, he entered Sixth Form (the final two years of secondary school for British students aged 16-18), where he studied music technology at age 17. “I learned my way around a studio by recording audio and the basic structures of sound design,” said Ocula. “It was here where I concreted the idea that this is what I wanted to do, and I was bound and determined to get released on Mau5trap (Deadmau5’s recording label).
After months of sending demos to the label under a different alias that admittedly were meant to cater to the Mau5trap sound, he visited New York with his girlfriend for his 21st birthday. It was there that he nearly gave up hope. “With the sent emails, I was praying I would get a response from someone who was associated with the label,” he recalls. “The day before we left to come back home, I told my girlfriend that I was going to pack it all in and get a real job.”
He happened to look at his emails again, and sure enough, a response. It was from the manager of Black Gummy. “He said he liked what I sent him and that he wanted to work with me.”
That started the ball rolling on a new chapter of the now Ocula career. Gone was his former branding, and the manager “believed in starting fresh by building a queue of music organically,” but Ocula was still unsure of the direction of his sound. His first two releases under Mau5trap were Progressive House followed by a bit of Acid then Techno. “I didn’t know where I wanted to go,” confessed Ocula. “I didn’t have a strong passion for a certain style or sound, but it was a dream come true!”
A short time later, he found the direction of Lane 8 and began to realize the slower tempo was more to his liking. A two-song release with This Never Happened was the first time Ocula’s music had dipped below 128 BPM.
He continued with his first EP, “Solstice,” but found the sound only covered a particular angle of where Ocula wanted to go. “I was happy with the record. It was relaxed and calm, but people were thinking where would I go with this live? It’s difficult to throw down a song at 123 BPM.”
Enter, Summit, the initial-mentioned EP that is a bit of a coming-out party for Ocula. Although still not where he wants to be, this release is more club-friendly and entails varying sounds that show growth in his production style and technique. “I still want to expand on this,” he said with a smile on his face. “This record is a huge stepping stone and motivator for my upcoming projects. I’ve now got that itch to keep releasing as much as possible. Progressive House has many elements of Trance stapled into the music. And, by following Deadmau5, you’re introduced to some of the iconic Trance artists. It’s impossible not to take influence from a genre like that.”
Ocula views himself more as a producer than a DJ and proclaims that all of his releases are his own. His goal is to break through with live sets as compared to playing on CDJ’s. “I saw Ben Bohmer do a live set, and I immediately took a liking to it. I’d definitely like to try it!”
Growing up with his dad and seeing him DJ gives Ocula a sense of how to move a dance floor properly. “Some guys have a plan from the get-go, and even if it goes horribly wrong, they stick to it,” said an adamant Ocula. “I think I’ve got a good ear and mind to see what people want, and I always try to go with the flow.”
In the end, this talented producer has only just begun, and it’ll be interesting to hear his future offerings as he delves deeper into his repertoire of sounds. It won’t be long before more than 10% of the Anjuna family recognizes Ocula’s name.
“I’ve learned to keep things organic. I only continue to concentrate on my music, the labels, and the people I work with. If I do that, the following will come.”
Ocula is set to illuminate shows worldwide. You may even catch him in a city near you this 2020.