Pulling back the curtain on OC Notes.
OC Notes , or Otis Calvin III, is spinning from side to side in a black leather swivel chair at the medical marijuana dispensary where he works. His boss appears in the doorway of the small gray office, gushing.
“We all just really love this guy,” he says with a big, dopey smile.
The prolific 26-year-old producer is immediately disarming, and he exudes calm, positive vibes.
“Anything you do in life—if you go for it, the universe will provide. You just have to believe,” he says, tugging at his goatee.
Notes believes in music. He’s one half of the experimental hip-hop duo Metal Chocolates. He frequently collaborates with Fresh Espresso and THEESatisfaction. And his recent solo work includes a remix of The Wiz called Emerald City Sequence, a trippy, 25-minute instrumental hip-hop suite that Notes layered over chopped-up video from the 1978 movie (which is based on the The Wizard of Oz). He made the entire thing in three days.
“I’m not making music for money or fame or to get girls,” says Notes, who’s the father of a two-year-old daughter. “If I don’t do this, then I’ll be miserable—you feel me?”
Notes initially learned music as a kid in the Tacoma church where his dad was the preacher and Notes played guitar, bass and piano alongside a choir of little kids. After high school, he wound up at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Phoenix, where he honed his profound production chops. Today, he spends as much time as possible in his “lab”—the studio he keeps in Pioneer Square’s storied OK Hotel. Notes plays SXSW this month and Sasquatch! Music Festival in May. He’s also working on some solo material and another Metal Chocolates release—but he’s cautious about describing his forthcoming records.
“I want to drop everything as a finished art piece,” he says. “I’m sitting on a lot of stuff so I can release it in a certain way.”
Once a month, Notes invites his fellow music makers to Art Show, a two-hour public radio show he hosts on Hollow Earth Radio in Seattle’s Central District. It’s a theatrical experience. Pretty much anything goes.
“I’ve always envisioned radio like it was when I was a kid, where you could hang out and DJs were fun, but it was still about the music,” he says. Fundamentally, Notes is a soul man whose greatest idol is Marvin Gaye. He fingers the curls of his hair as he waxes poetic about trying to live an organic, creative life and his breath halts for a moment when he thinks about the work he and his community are generating right now.
“I listen to it and I tear up, it makes me so happy inside,” he says.
Photo by Kyle Johnson.