Power In Numbers: Opiuo, ill-esha & Russ Liquid Play The Do LaB’s Post-Burning Man Party

Words By: Duke DuRock, Video By: Smash LeFunk, Photos By: Tensquare

Fresh from being in the desert at Burning Man, where with your help, we shared our “Scrambled Eggs” art installation, The Do LaB were excited to keep the positive vibes going strong from our time spent on the playa, with a proper after-party at King King which was exceptionally soundtracked by a trio of emerging electronic music artists, Opiuo, ill-esha, and Russ Liquid along with live painting by Mimi Yoon.

“This is the first show of my tour for the month,” said Opiuo, born Oscar Davey-Wraight, when we spoke with him and all three artists shortly before the performance. “I’ve played for The Do LaB once before which was amazing. So I was super excited when I heard that all of us would be playing together in the same city.”

Collaboration and Chemistry

All three producers have previously collaborated together on their various solo music projects, and the creative chemistry that these three innovative artists share together is readily apparent, despite the fact they each reside in different geographical locations.  “Los Angeles is a nice central meeting spot for us all,” said ill-esha. “I’m from Vancouver and I only really started playing in LA a lot this year, like at Lightning in a Bottle, which was the greatest festival I’ve ever been to. I had such a great experience there. So to come back and be involved with The Do LaB again is amazing. And to get to play with these guys – I don’t know what to be more excited about!

“Both of these artists are so inspirational to me,” she added. “I’ve made music with each of them and they’re extremely talented. We all look at things a little bit differently. So it’s always interesting to see what comes up with when we get together.”

Russ Liquid started the night off strong and, as we witnessed at this year’s Lightning in a Bottle Festival (LIB), he deftly moved through multiple music genres, which incorporate booming beats, incredible effects and radical remixes wrapped around ample flourishes of live horns, helping make his set a highly memorable dance-floor experience. “It stems from having my own jazz quintet and being really bored with the palette of sound that I got to paint with,” he explained. “Then I discovered electronic music and decided to fuse the worlds together. My favorite thing to do is have a friend give me an a cappella of a song I’ve never heard of before and then make music around that,” he added. “I’ve got a couple of those tonight. I’m a musical ninja.”

Dancing & Transcending The Art Of DJing

Russ Liquid has made big strides in the dance music scene this year, along with his fellow Headtron Collective family, which is home to a stable of equally progressive producers like our own Jupit3r plus recent Do LaB performers Sugar Pill and Stephan Jacobs, who both came directly from Burning Man to show their support.

By the time the opening set concluded, the crowd was in full swing and were seamlessly transitioned into more infectious grooves via the enchanting ill-esha. This female producer first dazzled us during her set at LIB. She treated the audience to plenty of new original productions, which featured her gorgeous live vocals along with added effects, courtesy of her new favorite production toy, Voice Touch Live.

“I love to sing and emcee and add freestyles,” ill-esha said of her live set. “I’ve been singing and emceeing for longer than I’ve been DJing. I’ve always been adding vocals and stuff into the mix. Recently I’ve started playing a little bit more with effects. I’m still mixing and DJing as well. I’d love to play instruments too but unfortunately I don’t have enough hands!”

ill-esha kept the crowd dancing continuously through her melodious brand of bass music, which pairs perfectly with her beautiful vocals. Crossing plenty of styles and tempos, she had more than her fair share of musical tricks up her sleeve, including a particularly nasty reworking of Brandy and Timberland’s classic R&B number “The Boy Is Mine.”

“I don’t know why I haven’t done a song like that before,” ill-esha said of the track she had only recently finished. “The work that Brandy and Timberland did, I was in eighth grade when I discovered it and was totally mesmerized. So I cooked up a little bootleg for tonight, which should be fun. I’ve been really changing up my show lately. My thing is, every time I get comfortable, I feel like I have to make myself uncomfortable again by adding something new and different.”

Cranked Energy Level

Surprises were plentiful on this evening from all three artists. Our headliner, Opiuo, kicked off his tour in fine fashion with a ferocious headline set. His glitched-heavy original tracks cranked the energy level up a notch and came along with heaping helpings of hip-hop vocals thrown in to great effect, such as his impressive remix of Roots Manuva’s classic “Witness (One Hope).” In a true treat, Opiuo teamed onstage with Russ Liquid for much of his set, and the pair played off each other perfectly.

Set alongside Opiuo’s signature sounds, Russ Liquid broke out his saxophone, while the Australian based New Zealander jammed alongside him with thunderous live drumming through his sound pad. “People coming to shows now, they don’t want to hear a whole hour of the same sort of music,” Opiuo explained. “When I write music, I close all my doors, turn off the internet, don’t listen to anything and just try and go somewhere I haven’t been before.”

Each of these three artists represent the new crop of electronic music producers that strive to make live shows more than just mixing records on stage. By adding in ample organic elements and playing plenty of original material and remixes across multiple music genres, performances are different experiences every time out. “There’s just an infinite amount of stuff that you can do now,” ill-esha explained. “It’s our responsibility to step the shows up. When I started DJing it was mixing all vinyl records. But you can only pitch something up so much. There were physical limitations. Now you don’t even have to mix, but play instruments and sample things. That’s what makes me grateful to be a musician – when I see people adding that next level.”

Russ Liquid added, “I hear all the time from producers and other artists, complaining that technology has gotten to the point where everyone is doing this stuff now. But I’m like, ‘Great,’ because it does push you to step your game up.”

Each of the artists from this night is doing just that. And with their tremendous talent with live instrumentation, their music goes far beyond mainstream dance. “The biggest compliment I hear is when someone will say, ‘I don’t really like electronic music. But what you’re doing, is awesome,’” offered Russ Liquid. “That’s basically the reason I’m doing this. I want to bridge the gap and make a new home for traditional musicians and electronic artists.”

“I’d like to expose more people who are into traditional singer song writers, because I think those kind of people may only have heard electronic music from David Guetta or very mainstream, repetitive dance stuff,” added ill-esha. “There’s so much more to electronic music.”

This evening was certainly evidence of that. And it was the perfect way to welcome back those from Burning Man. We’re grateful to all three artists for sharing their talents with those who attended and the show, which kicked off a month of great music we’ve got on tap.

Photo of Mimi Yoon’s painting created at the event. See more event photos here.

Come rejoin us 2 more times in September at the King King.

First on Friday September 16th we are starting a new monthly event called “Woogie Nights” which features the finest in house music from the beloved Woogie Stage from LIB. This event will feature Jay Tripwire, Pumpkin and Wobs. Get more info and tickets by clicking here.

Then on Thursday September 29th we are excited to welcome Eliot Lipp back to Los Angeles along with Virtual Boy and GoldRush. Get info and tickets for this event here.

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