Born Axel Gerard and crafting his music between England and his native France since 2018, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Orava is a graduate of the Musician Institute of London. Drawing inspiration from French touch, classic electronic, DnB, and traditional rock, as well as artists like Daft Punk, Phoenix, and Depeche Mode, Orava’s compositions tackle the common hopes, doubts and fears of his generation, drawing mostly from his own experiences. His current single “Now I Know” will be featured on his debut album ‘Behind The Wave,’ out in November. The album artwork was shot by French photographer Richard Bellia, known for his work with Kurt Cobain, The Cure, Joe Strummer, and Serge Gainsbourg.
We spoke with Orava about his upbringing in France, the musical influences on his new album ‘Behind The Wave,’ and his experience working as a musician during COVID-19. Read on below, and be sure to check out Orava’s debut album this fall.
GW: Tell us about your musical upbringing. How were you first introduced to music, and when did you decide that you wanted to become a musician?
Orava: I started taking guitar lessons when I was 7 and taught myself the piano around the age of 10. I’m part of a generation that grew up listening to music on iPods and got exposed to a huge diversity of genres from a young age.
I don’t really remember deciding to become a musician as it had always been obvious. Music was the only thing I had.
GW: We hear a huge variety of influences on your debut album, ‘Behind The Wave.’ What types of artists do you consider to be your primary inspiration?
Orava: I look up to bands like Daft Punk, Radiohead, Phoenix, Depeche Mode or Archive. I mainly draw inspiration from alternative rock, French Touch or Electronic music. I like mixing genres.
GW: We understand that you work with a variety of instruments, as well as synthetic/digital textures. What is your writing process like, and how do these various instruments inform your songwriting?
Orava: I always start looping a chord-progression on a guitar or a piano. Once I’ve found a melody, I decide what instruments I’ll be using in the actual song. The challenging part is trying to have as many traditional instruments as electronic ones. Mixing analog with digital is a key part of my work.
GW: Tell us about the most recent single “Now I Know.” How do you relate the visual captured in the music video relate to the themes of the lyrics?
Orava: “Now I Know” is about the difficulty we have as individuals to change our vision on life. Many of us tend to focus on trouble and forget that everything is a matter of perspective.
The video is an interpretation of different subjects such as denial, introspection or the fear of failure. It emphasizes the idea behind the song with a mysterious storyline featuring a character running away from his problems.
GW: What has your experience been like during COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns? Have you managed to continue writing and collaborating during this time? Do you think this experience will impact your songwriting, going forward?
Orava: Lockdown has given me more time to produce music. Creatively speaking, it has only had a positive impact on my songwriting. All I needed was a laptop, a sound card and an internet connection. Collaborating via skype was easy and just as efficient as meeting in the closest recording-studio. To me, it confirmed that being in a professional workspace is not required to produce great-sounding tracks.
GW: What do you hope that listeners will experience when they hear your debut album for the first time?
Orava: I hope that they will relate to my music and lyrics as much as I did for other artists. This is a real motivation besides my love for music.
GW: Assuming things return to normal following COVID-19, what are you plans for the coming year?
Orava: I’d love to be able to promote my album and share my music on stage! Playing live and working on new projects will be my main goals for the coming year.
GW: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
Orava: My first album “Behind The Wave” will come out on all streaming platforms in November 2020. I’ll also be releasing a new single “Going Backwards” along with a new music video later this month.
People can follow me on social media at @I.am.orava to get notified for the next releases and announcements!