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27.12.2017 | Words by: Jasmin Hoek
Photography: Andra Chitimus

The end of this year is near. On the third to last day of 2017 De School is one of the last places where Maya Bouldry-Morrison, better known as Octo Octa, will perform before 2018 kicks off. Possibly even more impressive than the long list of sets, is the number of on-point productions that Octo Octa has released throughout the year, including a full-length album on Honey Soundsystem.

So it was quite obvious that Octo Octa’s warm sounds regularly filled the dance floor atmospheres these past twelve months. Way more than once or twice I recall desperately trying to Shazam ‘Adrift’ while hiding my phone in the dark club. Then I finally got the name of this thrilling, emotional and deep layered tune I had fallen in love with over and over again when I came across Bouldry-Morrison’s album last April.
In anticipation of her set at De School on December 29th, I reminisced about the special moments of 2017 with Octo Octa, and spoke to her about the importance of putting out music and the existence of clubs.
Q: Since you publicly came out as trans in 2016, your productions and your name Octo Octa carry a clear connection to your queer and trans identity. Art on queerness and transness can be regarded as activist by definition. How do you relate to that?
A: “Consuming queer media has always been really powerful to me, especially since I grew up in a place where I didn’t feel like I had much access to it. My teen years felt like a lot of grasping at whatever I could get. Now that I have the space and platform to disseminate queer media it feels extremely important to me personally to be working towards that. It’s like I’m making and sharing media that I wish I could send back in time to myself.”
Q: What is it like to play a track that is personal or even autobiographical to an audience?
A: “When it comes to live sets I’m typically too zoned in to really notice the effect it’s having on the audience, honestly. It’s much more of a self-centered thing. I’m typically only thinking about what I want to hear next. I may look up to see if people are dancing or enjoying it, but it’s really about satisfying what I want in the moment. It’s different than DJing. I like to play a lot of vocal house/garage when I DJ, and that typically makes everyone (myself included) sing and dance a lot. I get swept up often, and though it might not be a song I wrote, I feel a significant connection to it that I want to share.”
Q: Your track ‘Only Tears’ was part of the activist compilation 'Physically Sick' on Allergy Season, of which all the profits were donated to charities that help out minorities that were affected by hateful policies by the new US government. While the title of ‘Only Tears’ doesn’t sound that hopeful, your productions feel optimistic, empowering, and hopeful. You have also expressed the importance of a club as a safe space to you personally, and other queer and trans people. In which way do you think club culture today offers potential for helping minorities?
A: “The clubgoers often build the community, and there are some incredible promoters who contribute as well. I would never say that clubs as a whole are a “safe haven”. A lot of clubs have serious issues with classism, racism, transphobia, and homophobia, but they still claim to be safe spaces. I find a lot of like-minded people in the clubs and circles I’m a part of right now, and those clubs have provided me with opportunities to meet people that I may never have met otherwise. I think finding a great club and the right group of people to dance with is something incredibly special, though, and when a club’s organizers make an effort it’s possible to create inclusive spaces that feel safe and full of love.”
Q: How do you look back on 2017? What were some personal highlights for you this year?
A: “2017 has been the most bonkers year for me in terms of music and touring. Over the past few years I’ve done a lot of touring and put out a lot of records, but this year it felt like that was all turned up to 11. It has been amazing, but it has taken time to adjust to! One highlight was the set I got to play at the Honcho Campout this summer. It was a closing set outside in the middle of a circle of giant stone in the forest, and it’s so hard to describe what that set meant to me. Let’s just say I got to play Dom & Roland – “Can’t Punish Me” as my final track and it felt perfect.”
Q: Is there a song that marked 2017 for you?
A: “Physical Therapy – “String Thing (Desensitized Mix)”. I get teary every time I listen to it (like right now as I type this). It was the soundtrack to a few trips I took this year that meant a lot to me. It's a really moving song.”
Q: What are you looking forward to in 2018? Are there big plans music-wise coming up that you can elaborate a bit on?
A: “I’m touring a lot in the coming year, which is great. I don’t have much in the music hopper right now – I had so much come out this PAST year. I am working on a few things, though! I think the only EP that’s planned to come out next year will be another EP with Deepblak, which I’m thrilled about.”
Q: What about any other new year’s wishes for 2018?
A: “Impeach Trump.”

Octo Octa is playing De School on Friday December 29th, alongside The Black Madonna. There are tickets available at the door, and more info can be found on Facebook.
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