The Rising of Okapi Sun - OZY | A Modern Media Company

The Rising of Okapi Sun

The Rising of Okapi Sun

By Eugene S. Robinson


Because the sublime joy of digging them before everyone else has dug them can’t even be measured.

By Eugene S. Robinson

Sometimes things happen so fast that if you’re not paying attention you just might miss them.

Which is OK, on first blush, since if a thing ends up being big enough, you can be pretty damned sure that the first time you miss them will probably be the last. Think: Madonna, Menudo, or even the Red Hot Chili Peppers, fer chrissakes. They had hits before you even heard the hit that first broke through the conscious veil of your pop culture radar. It’s that slick and quick. Next thing you know, you’re in a mall surrounded by people wearing their concert tees and you wonder just how long you’ve been napping.

So remember this moment: the moment when you first heard about Okapi Sun.å

It felt to me like Bananarama meets Depeche Mode. Wait. Not Depeche Mode … not typical club music, either.…

— Neal Harrington Pogue

”It just had this really cool sort of 1980s flair.” The speaker is Neal Harrington Pogue. You know, the board runner/producer for Outkast and TLC, and the owner of a shelf-load of Grammys for the same. “It felt to me like Bananarama meets Depeche Mode. Wait,” he says from his Atlanta studio as he pauses looking for descriptors. “Not Depeche Mode … not typical club music, either …,” and he trails off. 

Leo and Dallas, whose last names are already not necessary nor offered, started up in Berlin at some underground techno club. Leo, who claims Czech, French and German ancestry, met up with the U.S. Air Force brat, Dallas, who’s been all over the place. With classical training in piano and viola, they took the next and most logical step: techno duo.

They called themselves Okapi Sun, after the zebra-striped animal, and got down to the business of goofing around.

The duo lists influences from the Rolling Stones to Chopin and Dr. Alban, a real life Nigerian-born Swedish dentist. They called themselves Okapi Sun, after the zebra-striped animal, and got down to the business of goofing around.

”We really both loved pop music,” said Leo from Southern California, where they’re getting ready for their first trip to South by Southwest in March, right after which their first single drops. ”But even more than that, we really wanted to do something that was fun.” Since they relocated to San Diego, Calif., in January 2013, fun is maybe not such a surprising choice.

“Fun and dance-y,” said Dallas, her voice hoarsened from … “Oh. You know.”

So they picked up producer Ethan Allen after playing a show with his band Gram Rabbit, and more quickly than might seem seemly, they were handing over all of the stuff they had recorded on their laptops. To? Oh, just to a guy who worked with Tricky, Sheryl Crow and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, to name a few of the most major and noteworthy.

And immediately after that, things moved amazingly fast. Sponsorships from Puma, New Amsterdam Vodka and a label deal. Which brings us to the music: bouncy but not empty, it seems very much like a considered take on the ’80s zeitgeist, all while being a bit more knowing than were those who lived through it the first time.

And since seeing is believing, believe it.


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