22-year-old Oakland native Ovrkast. returns to premiere his new music video “Face” featuring Sage Elsesser as Navy Blue. Back in January, Ovrkast’s Try Again album was a feature in our ongoing Best New Tracks installment.
Ovrkast. has been steadily releasing his original production and raps since 2016 on Bandcamp and has been known for collaborating with Earl Sweatshirt on Feet of Clay, Mavi for his recently released Let The Sun Talk and Pink Siifu. The project showcased the rapper and producer wise beyond his years but it also found him grappling with self-doubt and ongoing battles with low self-esteem. “This is never over, it’s a circle. You just have to remember to try again,” he said of his creative output.
Director Skyler Vander Molen detailed the creation of the music video, filmed from Oakland to New York City. “When I first heard Try Again, ‘Face’ immediately stood out as one of my favorite songs on the album. After we finished “Outro”, he asked if I’d be interested in directing “Face”. In the middle of pre-production, COVID-19 hit, and we made the hard decision to cancel. After a few anxious weeks, I realized it might be possible to save the project by reworking the idea. Next thing I knew, I was on a plane to New York to shoot Sage’s part. The video is special because it’s a picture of how multiple creative communities on opposite coasts came together to pull off something none of us could have done alone. That kind of community is rare and special and I hope you can feel it in the final product.”
Watch Ovrkast.’s latest music video above and continue onward for his thoughts on the collaboration with Navy Blue, how he’s spending his quarantine and the ongoing themes of battling self-esteem and conquering doubt throughout his music.
HYPEBEAST: How’ve you been holding up during the coronavirus quarantines? A lot of artists we talk to are split between using the time to make more music or going the opposite direction and using this time to regroup and to get inspired in the future. What have you been up to since dropping Try Again?
Ovrkast.: I’ve mostly been working on new music this quarantine. I recently started skating because I was tired of being inside every day or at the studio. It helps my mental health. I just learned how to Ollie!
“Face” deals with your self-esteem and working through doubt. You’ve come out on the other side of Try Again with critical-acclaim and had some truly noteworthy collaborators on that project. Is self-doubt something that still weighs on you through your creative process or has the success of your recent album helped curb that a bit?
It definitely still lingers, throughout this whole process I’ve come to understand that low self-esteem and doubt is something that I will just have to work with and not run from. I find myself running from it a lot. When it’s really one of the most human feelings. It’s cliche but it literally never hurts to take a break to recoup and try again. It might take stepping away from whatever is challenging you to give you a sense of clarity once you go back in.
Navy Blue’s Àdá Irin was another understated, beautifully written hip-hop record that we can’t get enough of this year. How did you first link with Navy and how did you know that “Face” was the right record for him to get on?
I first linked with bro through the internet. I sent him some beats and he liked them then some months later I ended up in New York with Demahjiae and we stayed at his crib. We were good friends from then on. I actually sent him the record just to hear ’cause when I make new songs I send them to my friends. He does the same sometimes and he ended up wanting to get on it. It came together like magic (laughs).
Upon first listen, Try Again stressed the importance of second drafts, of learning from failure and getting reps in to grow. It also was a reminder of re-listening to the record to unpack all of what you said. “Face” perfectly showcases that. How many times are you going through vocal takes and revisiting your production? And when do you know that it’s time to walk away from a track or project accepting that it’s complete?
I recently recorded a song that had about 25 takes. Getting down the one take on a difficult verse is everything. It’s practice. But 25 isn’t my usual number it’s usually about 7-10. I have to warm my voice up first. As far as beats, one of my beats usually goes through like 8 different variations of what it sounds like. Sometimes drums don’t sound right with the sample so I have to switch them out. Or sounds are hard to mix correctly. I truly never feel that any of my songs are complete. But it’s usually when I get tired of it. It’s all a process but at the end of the day, I’m usually proud of what I make.
What are your goals for the remainder of 2020 and for the future post-COVID-19?
Continue working on this next project, gather more inspiration, and keep skating. I really can’t even see what a post-COVID-19 world looks like so for now I’m doing what I can.