Residing in the Pacific Northwest, Oatmello’s mellow instrumental beats mirror the city’s lowkey demeanor and climate — laid back, relaxed, with a sort of cozy, chill atmosphere. With roots in Portland, Oregon, Oatmello mixes instrumental beats in layers that sometimes feel texturally unexpected but always engaging.
The moniker Oatmello came to be when the artist and his wife were strolling across Mississippi Avenue in Portland one morning. With no particular context and almost out of the blue, his wife encouraged him to call his new music project to be “Oatmello.” Being an impactful supporter to his musical career, he still looks to her for offering constructive criticism on the work he produces.
“She has a great sense of humor and gives me all sorts of great ideas for things; I always consult her on new songs,” says Oatmello. “She’s brutally honest and dislikes 90% of what I make, but when she likes something, it's a really good sign.”
Of the moniker coined that day, the artist notes how the name resonates with his creative endeavors and his work, capturing the vibes and mood of his music — there's a sense of irreverence and something that feels hearty while remaining classic.
Even before the name “Oatmello” was realized, the artist knew he’d pursue music at a very young age, recalling his first albums being Magical Mystery Tour and Raffi’s singable songs. As a child he became enamored with the small Fisher-Price portable record player that his parents gifted him, hauling the gadget around from place to place. Growing up, he became a fan of hip-hop in the ‘90s, listening to the likes of Wu Tang and G Funk — he would later draw inspiration from such pioneering artists using their work as a benchmark for the hip-hop infused beats he would create as Oatmello.
While classically trained in piano, it was an activity Oatmello secretly hated practicing. It was a telltale sign to continue searching for his niche in music, to find and secure the creative channel that resonated with his creative mission.
“I wanted to jam and make my own music, not just learn how to recite others works perfectly. It really frustrated me. When I was a teenager I discovered beat making and became captured by it. I remember the moment in that first year of making beats where I thought to myself, ‘this is something I could be happy doing for the rest of my life’.”
Oatmello’s listeners will identify the genre as instrumental hip-hop, a genre he’s proud to categorize his music and influences under. “A lot of producers conceptualize their music as something new which doesn't conform to any genre,” says Oatmello. “Personally, I take a lot of comfort and inspiration seeing my music as part of a lineage of music and recognizing the giants whose shoulders I’m standing on.”
Like many can expect to face in the music industry, there’s a resounding pressure to invent the newest latest hit. It’s something Oatmello side steps gracefully, wanting to explore within the sound in novel and interesting ways. With his song “Push Up,” he opts to use unconventional sound samples to construct the layers, using the sounds of writing on a chalkboard for the high hat pattern.
When it comes to composing, Oatmello mulls over the beat in his head, visualizing or hearing the sound even before sitting down to work on the song. Once conceptualized, he experiments in his studio to begin constructing the preimagined piece; the key to his creative process is avoiding overly edited by polishing every song he creates, but instead focusing on the initial creation and experimenting with the moving variables.
“I watched a documentary on Sumi-e once, which is a form of Japanese brush painting. The idea is that the brush stroke is quick to make but it takes hundreds, sometimes thousands, of tries to get the right stroke. That somehow stuck with me, and I have a similar attitude about making music.”
While the creative process prior leading up to that experimental stage can take time to unfold, it’s Oatmello’s approach and techniques that contribute to his music feeling fresh and forward thinking. While the artist believes in making music for the right reasons, striving beyond external validation from society, he hopes his work strikes a positive impact on those who listen.
“I would just hope that when listening [to my music], it gives people a feeling of peace, introspection, comfort, and perhaps freedom.”