Chicago’s O! Jupiter Choose To Control Their Perspective On “Until Tomorrow”
Written by Vocalo Radio on June 25, 2020
The hip-hop/rock duo O!Jupiter were all set to release their debut album after four years of preparing. Then COVID-19 hit.
Once the pandemic took hold of the world and stay-at-home orders were put in place, Derek and Nick of O! Jupiter knew they needed to pivot. While delaying their album, they wrote, recorded and produced the brand new single, “Until Tomorrow.” A dreamy, soothing, thought-provoking track, the song explores feelings of déjà vu, cycles, cabin fever, routines, angst and Illinois unemployment. We can’t stop listening to it, so it seemed only right to include in our June “In Rotation” list, as well as the Top 5 songs of June according to Jill Hopkins.
The duo spoke to us about the process behind their quarantine-creation, the song hook that began their current musical path together, and taking a step back from “polarizing reactions and repetitive cycles.”
Vocalo: Tell us about yourself! How would you describe your work?
Both: [We’re] a duo of vocalists who work with several producers and instrumentalists. Our lyrical content is especially self-reflective, but we try to leave things open to interpretation. Sonically, we go through phases of different genres, but will typically mix several types together.
Our influences range from Pete Rock and Q-Tip to Angels & Airwaves and twenty one pilots. We are also drawn to the conceptual approach of Pink Floyd and Kendrick Lamar. We find elements from all musical types to inspire us.
Where did each of you grow up?
Derek: I grew up mostly in Kenosha, Wisc., along with a handful of years in central Illinois. I was raised in a very religious family, so church was my introduction to music and motivated me to have a creative outlet.
Nick: I grew up west of Chicago in Melrose Park, keeping to myself a good portion of the time, being creative with illustrating comic books, making short films, and writing stories.
Could you tell me a story about the moment you each knew you wanted to make music?
N: After I wrote my first song to “The Funeral” by Band of Horses, I found writing helped express these unobserved feelings I was confining. It sort of opened a door to my own language for describing the world around me.
D: As I briefly mentioned before, church was my first musical influence and performance venue. And although I learned a lot from these experiences, I wasn’t inspired to make music until high school.
I remember sitting in home-room and listening to Angels and Airwaves for the first time, specifically the song “Sirens.” I had never heard any music like that before, nor had anything ever given me the feeling this music did. Tom DeLonge’s writing and melodic style started my shift from just enjoying singing and listening to music to also wanting to create.
How did you two meet? Could you tell me about how you decided to form a hip hop/rock duo?
D: Our friendship began through our mutual good friend, Bernard. I met Bernard in 8th grade and we began working on music together in the beginning of college. Nick met Bernard in college and early on, Bernard would bring Nick to the small studio I had in my parents’ basement and we’d record songs for Bernard’s mixtapes. Collaboration between Nick and myself began by just messing around in the studio. However, there was one song in particular that changed our approach with the music we’d make together.
N: Eight years ago I wrote a hook with Derek’s voice in mind and upon meeting him for the second time I presented the idea. He actually brushed it off and told me to record it myself. I left the studio thinking, “Well, this sucks.”
D: I didn’t quite hear the potential for the song when it was first presented to me, but shortly after Nick had left that night, I gave the hook a shot. It sounded better than I expected and I remember excitedly sending it back to him right away. It was also a good personal lesson as far as rejecting ideas too quickly.
We would eventually move into a house in Chicago together with some other artists. Bernard would join us in Chicago a few years down the road and is now our manager and partner in our music collective, 529 Music.
I’ve gotta ask…how did you pick “O! Jupiter” as the band name? I love it so much! What was the inspiration?
Both: It’s still strange to think about it happening this way, but our former roommate Matt just said the name one day sitting around in the studio. We were looking for a name at the time and O! Jupiter is the only one we kept coming back to.
From the name, we were able to develop our own language to help us put our ideas to music. After moving in together, we spent time developing our lyrics, concepts, and studying the sounds of our influences.
Is there anything about Chicago’s music scene that you’re inspired by?
Common, Kayne, and Lupe have had a strong influence on our lyrical substance. And while we’re influenced by Chicago’s hip-hop scene, we also follow local Blues, Jazz Fusion, and Jam bands.
Congrats on releasing “Until Tomorrow!” However, I know you were gearing up to release your debut album right as COVID-19 hit. What was the decision like to delay the release?
D: Thank you! It felt like less of a decision and just more of the route we had to follow. We had a lot of people involved with creating this project, and it became difficult to navigate during COVID. We can’t deny the effect the pandemic has had on all of us, but if anything, I think the album will be better off with the new perspective we’ve experienced during this time.
N: To avoid losing the momentum, I challenged myself to create a new beat every day for the first 30 days of COVID. Five of those resulted in “Until Tomorrow.” We learned to embrace our situation and I believe it allowed us to grow as artists.
How long did it take you to write/record “Until Tomorrow?” Why was it important to you to create something completely new in response to the pandemic?
Both: Although the album was delayed, there was plenty of creation during the early stages of COVID. There was no intention to release a song, but all of the sounds we accumulated over 30 days formed in one night. We felt this strong sense of déjà vu, while losing track of what day it was. The dreamy feel and loops on the track reflect the waking dream we felt we were in.
Watching you both step up and create such a soothing reminder of “it’s gonna be okay, even if right now isn’t,” felt like what want to be for your fans…a group that watches out for their own. What do you want fans to take away from this single?
Both: The truth is there is no guarantee that everything will be okay. The only control we have is our perspective. We could view the changing world around us as the end of times or the dark just before the dawn. It is very effortless to be wrapped up in the storm of polarizing reactions and repetitive cycles. This song helped us take a step back from our own spiral and glance around with fresh eyes. We hope we could provoke a similar feeling to the listener.
“Until Tomorrow” was a different sound from your previous single, “Beautiful Accident.” Going forward, what other sounds and genres are you excited to play with and explore? What sounds can we expect on the album?
Both: We agreed on day one to not place ourselves in a box with a specific genre. We like to challenge ourselves by fusing elements of different sounds to make something completely unique.
Do we have any updates on when that debut album will drop?
Both: Vocalo will be the first to know.
What else is next for you?
Both: We recently took a trip to a cabin in Colorado with the goal of bringing momentum back to the album. Chicago is the source of our inspiration, but some time away in the mountains has helped us collect our thoughts and give clarity to our experiences from Chicago.
Our next steps are to bring the team back together. On the creative side we have our multi-instrumentalist Mike and our all-purpose engineer Taylor. We are fortunate to have both our childhood best friends, Beben and Richie to help with the business side of O! Jupiter. Our manager and best friend Bernard helps to keep our projects on track. Quest and Frank, who manage our branding, bring the music to life visually through artwork, photography, and overall aesthetic. Our close friends, Aaron and Joe, are directing and shooting the music videos for the upcoming album. The collaboration of the entire O! Jupiter family is making the creation of the album far more enjoyable and meaningful for us.
Derek and Nick have put together a playlist of some of the most meaningful and moving songs to them. Take a listen here:
Interviewed & edited for clarity by Shelby Kluver
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