meet october: new zealand's 19-year-old production wunderkind
Who can resist someone who describes their music as, “it's like a Lil Yachty song, if Lil Yachty was moody teen goth girl.”
October songs are more like incantations or chants. She repeats one line — usually a question, maybe a demand — on loop. Light on lyrics, heavy on bass, that's the sound. Talking to i-D she reflects, "Arca, Jesse Kanda and FKA Twigs are my father, son and Holy Spirit."
Her moniker, October, was taken from the month she born; which makes her a Libra — said to be kind, gentle lovers of beauty and peace. Outside of music, she goes by Emma and lives in Wellington, but grew up in Blenheim, a town of 30,000 named after 17th century German battle. The namesake is perhaps more exciting than the town itself: Emma spent most of her time there online. Even now, "my laptop is basically my only friend," she says.
Not that October's world is gloomy, rather it's decidedly gothic. "Everything I aspire to be is embodied in Jim Morrison," she tells us, "the mystery, the sex appeal." We're separated by the Tasman sea, but we tried to get closer to October through the phone.
Say a young girl wanted you to teach her how to be a singer. Where would you start?
I don't think singing is something you can teach; you either have it or you're tone deaf. I also don't know the first thing about singing technique — I'm a producer first and foremost. Also I'm like, really bad with kids. So we're off to a bad start really. Honestly, I'd probably tell her that singing is the most boring aspect of music! Like, unless you couple it with the creativity of songwriting, or playing another instrument, or producing. I think I'd try and find a way to tell her like, "Cool that you wanna learn music, but we already have about one million female singers. How 'bout becoming a kick ass guitar shredder, or sick drummer, or a bassist, or like a triangle player? We need more of those cool girls!" 'Cause singing is easy, you know? Challenge yourselves!
So that's your take on women in the industry, but what about dudes?
Boys need to stop being fuckin' lame-o's! Nah, I love boys. Boys are cute and I like to kiss them, but only if they recognise I'm an intelligent badass bitch who is exceptionally capable. Never assume that I — or any girl really — can't do the technical stuff. I mean, just stop undermining girls in general.
Let's talk about that technical stuff. How much time do you spend on your laptop?
I probably spend about six hours per day producing, maybe more. My desktop is a total mess — kinda like my life. I think for anti-social introverts like me, laptops are really cool things. I mean, my laptop is really my only way to communicate with the outside world.
Is that where everything starts — on your laptop? Do you write lyrics on your phone or on the backs of receipts?
Yeah for sure: Logic is always open before my diary is. I always, always, always start with the bass line. I will literally spend days at a time just on the percussion of a song. Like I said, I consider myself a producer above anything else, so production just naturally comes first. It's definitely the part of the process I enjoy most — lyrics are fucking hard! So, generally, I'll just stick to poetry from my notebook. Actually, it's all a pretty visual experience for me — not like synthesia or anything — but I always have a really specific set of images in my head, they all go with different songs.
When are we getting more music, and what can we expect? Everything's pretty pretty goth so far.
I have a new single up my sleeve! It's called Cherry Cola, and it's still quite goth. I'd say it's like a Lil Yachty song, if Lil Yachty was moody teen goth girl.
Photography Imogen Wilson