Nov 24, 2015 3:13PM

Get To Know 19-Year-Old NZ Producer October

Raised by the internet.

Emma Logan, aka October, is a fresh talent coming out of Wellington, NZ right now. The singer/songwriter/producer/lil legend was brought up in a sleepy town called Blenheim, although she insists she was actually raised by the internet — something that definitely translates in her music and general outlook on life. 

We had a chat to her and found out, among other things, that she produces all of her own music, is perhaps FKA Twigs' biggest fan and isn't overly fond of the idea of growing up. 

Madeleine Woon: Where are you from and where are you currently living?
Emma Logan: I'm from a little old town called Blenheim in New Zealand, but I currently live in Wellington.

What was it like growing up in NZ?
Well, Blenheim is a very small town — it's very closed off from the rest of the world. There are a lot of small-minded people, but being from that closed-off little world really drove me to create and be creative. It was more of an escape, I guess.

I think when you grow up in a really small town, the internet is so important in helping to connect you with like-minded people...
Absolutely. I can one hundred percent say that I was raised by the internet [laughs]. Because the town I lived in was very closed off, it drove me to look for inspiration elsewhere — on the internet, from other countries. It's had a huge influence on the way I create music, and my inspiration for making music.

How do you think the internet has specifically impacted the way you create music?
Well, [the fact that] I can put my stuff up on the internet and reach a wider audience is a huge, positive aspect of the internet world. Being able to access the internet and discover artists like FKA twigs, Arca, The Garden and Death Grips who I wouldn't have previously found, obviously that inspires the way I write music, what I like listening to and how I like to produce my music.

Do you find Wellington to be limiting as an artist?
Well, Wellington is the biggest city I've ever lived in, so at the moment it's great for me because I'm meeting a lot more open-minded people. Wellington is probably the creative capital of New Zealand — so that in itself is very inspiring. I'm surrounded by a lot of creative people. I don't know, it's like this little competitive character in me that's fighting to stay on top of the sort of creative scene in Wellington.How did the name "October" come about?
I was born in October [laughs]. But also, I wanted a name that was androgynous — something that was neither a boy nor a girl — so that people didn't have that prejudice of gender before listening to my music. Obviously I sound like a girl in my songs which is a straight giveaway, but I really didn't want it to be overly feminine or overly masculine. It also sounds phonetically quite nice, I think…

And how would you describe your music?
Um, how would I describe it? [Laughs]. If Patti Smith was produced by Kanye West circa 1999.

That's very specific!
I don't know [laughs]. It's industrial and abrasive, but it's very visceral in that it's absolutely emotionally driven. If I create a song and it doesn't make me feel anything, or if it makes me feel hungry — which is very strange to say — I scrap it straight away. It's gotta make me feel something.

Who would you say your biggest musical influences so far have been?
As I said, FKA twigs, Arca… I love Jim Morrison — I've been a huge Jim Morrison fan girl since I was nine years old. Death Grips, Patti Smith, Kanye… I like the punk-y aspect of The Garden and New Order, but then trying to turn it into something more electronic and contemporary like Arca does.

What inspires you outside of music?
This sounds really strange, but I guess non-musical sounds inspire me. I was actually walking past this construction site the other day and the sounds of the crane and the jack hammers were really inspiring to me. I like to use those types of sounds when I'm producing the percussion side of my music. Imagery is a huge part of music as well, especially in terms of music videos. I really appreciate Pierre Debusschere as a videographer, and also Dexter Navy. For me, music is hugely visual. 

On that note, what was the story behind your debut video, 'Voids'?
When I was conceptualising the video with my boyfriend Connor, I wanted it to be more of an art piece rather than telling a story. I wanted it to be purely visual art set to music, so we decided on using the reds and the blues as our lighting because those are my two favourite colours. We were also really inspired by Pierre Debusschere's video for Raf Simons' SS13 collection. We wanted it to be a contrast between these soft, solemn, non-moving things just standing there not doing much and really abrasive and emotional screaming things. I guess that was somewhat to reflect the message behind 'Voids', which is about being silenced by your inability to confide in people. 

What were you into in high school?
I was really into sneaking off and pretending that I had a music lesson, and just going into the piano room and writing music. I think I spent most of my days in the piano room. It doesn't count as wagging if you're just in the music room, right? [Laughs] I was also really into musical theater. I really wanted to study musical theatre and be in shows, but then I got addicted to producing my own music. 

In what ways do you think you've changed since then?
I've had a year away in Wellington doing my first year of University. I'm learning to be more responsible and learning to be an adult, although I'm very reluctant about it. I don't like the idea of growing up one bit. I think my music has changed in that I've become more interested in the production side of songwriting — making it as intricate and interesting as I can. I want people to recognise me as not only a songwriter but as a producer, which seems to be a very male-dominated field. I want to prove to people that I can do this, and that I am good.

Who would your dream collaborations be for the future?
I would love to work with Dev Hynes from Blood Orange. And working with Death Grips would actually be a dream come true...

And, last question, what do you want to be when you grow up?
A rock star! I want to be a really cool, punk-y rockstar who wears cool clothes and everyone thinks is cool, but I'm really just a big dork at heart. That's what I want to be when I grow up. 

Photography and fashion: Imogen Wilson 

Madeleine Woon