Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Parisian beat maker Onra has been releasing music since 2006. His futuristic beats and jazz tones have been a favourite among many aroung the world. With early respect from Gilles Peterson and Benji B of BBC radio fame , Arnaud Bernard was destined for success. He made his first full album in 06 'Chinoiseries' to much critical acclaim with 'The Anthem' still a talked about tune.

Most recently he has released the Long Distance record out on All City Records , featuring Oliver DaySoul and T3 of Slum Village.

Here is an interview I managed to make happen only recently with the man.

Congratulations on the recent release of Long Distance , how has the reaction and feedback been at the shows to the new tunes?

Thank you. The feedback has been really positive so far, it seems like this album has a few big tracks, though there's still a lot of "Chinoiseries" supporters that always ask me to play some chinese beats.

How was it working with T3 of Slum Village fame on the track 'The One'???

It happenned very easily. I contacted him through Myspace, sent him a few instrumentals, and he picked this one. The beat included his voice already, if you listen closely to the chorus, the words he says are samples from the Slum Village song called "One". So it was very easy for him to adapt to this one, knowing that he was kind of already part of it... I've seen him a few times in concert, but never got to meet him since we did this track together.

Were you suprised by the respect you received when you released your tribute record in 2006 with Quetzal? It must of been gratifying to know Gilles Peterson liked your work?

Yeah it was a big surprise, especially since we thought we were gonna sell 50 of them cd's, just for our few friends interested in beats, and that's it. It turned out to be a success, without any promoion, any budget. People liked it, and the word spreaded on Myspace. It was easier these days I guess, cause there were not that many people doing this. To be liked by Gilles Peterson is very cool, and it really helps you with promoting your stuff.

Considering the success of Chinoiseries , would you say your trip to Vietnam of that year was a defining moment in your personal life as well as your musical career?

Yes of course. Without this album, things would be much more difficult for me now. It really changed my life, and it couldn't have happenned if I hadn't went to Viet Nam. When I was there, I didn't know it was gonna happen this way, I was just another tourist, who really loves vinyls and that's it.

How much do you think your Beijing opportunity with your track 'The Anthem' featuring on the coca cola helped propel your career to the mainstream?

It didn't help at all. First, this is not my track. They had to remake it, their version is wack. I didn't got paid. And my name was no where credited. So it really didn't help. It's just a funny story to tell to your grand-sons when you're older. That's it. I'm not being bitter or whatever, but if I'm here today, it's not because of Coca-Cola, it's only because of me and my hard work.

Who are your musical influences? Who do you draw inspiration from when making music?

J Dilla is my favorite producer, but I've been also influenced from every dope Hip-Hop/R'n'B producer from the 90's. That's what I grew up to.

Do you think J-Dilla's work has had a big influence on todays future beats scene?

Yeah of course, J Dilla has a huge influence on all of us I think. Everybody respects and loves what he has accomplished, I've never met someone who were making this kind of music, telling me he's not been inspired by him. To me, he's really like the god of beats, so...

Whatever happened to Byron the Aquarius who you worked with on The Big Payback?

He appeared on Flying Lotus "L.A." album, he's been in the lab with Denaun Porter, so I know he's been busy. He's still studying Jazz, and playing in bands, and he's also working on his new album.

What sort of equipment do you use for a live performance?

I bring my two MPC 1000, a Kaos Pad which I use for simple effects like delay, reverb, filters. ANd I have a Kaossliator, which I use for sound effects...

Is there any artists or producers that you would like to work with in the future?

There's a lot of them, but I'll have to see what's gonna be possible. I can't tell you names for now, cause it's in the works, but nothing is confirmed.

What is life like in France? Is there much of a scene in terms of the future beats?

There's no scene here, it's just starting, but it's still very small. I play most of my gigs outside of my country, that says a lot.

What is your most proudest moment since you began making music?

I'm not proud of anything yet, I haven't accomplished that much. But i've been surprised a lot of times, a lot of unexpected things happened to me these past three years. Red Bull Music Academy, tour in Japan, tour in China, etc... I'm proud of myself when I hear people that influenced me, say that they love my work. That means a lot to me.

Anything you would like to say to your Australian fans?

Stay tuned, wait for the summer, cause I'm gonna come to this country, and I hope we'll have some great parties. And go get my tee-shirt at Graniph to show your love! :)

Long Distance is out now on All City Records.

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