Michael Oakley’s captivating beats and ethereal synthesisers have given a fresh approach and revival to classic 80’s pop. Hailing from Glasgow Scotland, dance/electro artist Oakley has successfully created an innovative style, defying the mainstream with the combination of minimalistic yet memorable melodies with electronic synth-pop. The result is a body of work which celebrates the 80’s – an era of revolutionary artistry but yet feels modern and dynamic.
Oakley credits his devotion and inspiration of 80’s music to his older sister, who housed an extensive collection of vinyls growing up. Oakley reflects on how as a small child he would sneak into his sisters room and immerse himself in this amazing world of 80’s music. It was then that he discovered artists such as Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears and Duran Duran. Oakley describes his EP as his ‘own personal love letter to the 1980’s’. With such an early exposure to this world of music, it was only natural that Oakley should cite this era as being an influence on his upcoming EP, entitled California.
Oakley’s story of how his EP came to be, is a series of both fortunate and unfortunate events, which ultimately guided his musical direction. It’s a tale of a loss of relationship, a loss of musical inspiration and a total loss of direction. “Thinking back to that time, I was really lost in every way possible” reveals Oakley, “but out of that I had this overwhelming feeling like I had something to say and the only way I could do that was through music”.
After discovering his fiancé was being unfaithful, Oakley channeled all his emotion into his writing. During this turbulent and uncertain time in Oakley’s life, he decided to reach out to one of his musical inspirations, John Glenn Kunkel from The New Division, expressing his appreciation for Kunkel’s work. Much to Oakley’s excitement and dismay, the two sparked a friendship and discovered their mutual interests in music. Not long after, Oakley took the 6,000 mile journey to California, where he ended up finishing his EP in the studio with Kunkel. The surreality of the situation hit Oakley one day, whilst in the studio, “that was a really emotional moment for me because it was in that moment that I realized how far I had come in my journey, not just as a musician but that I had finally came out the other side of a really dark time in my life” Oakley confesses. The EP reflects his emotional journey over the course of a year, enduring heart ache and rediscovering what it feels to love again.
Lead single “Turn Back Time” highlights Oakley’s signature sound of atmospheric 80’s pop. It’s synth-fueled, ethereal quality and driving drum beats will send you on a time machine back to the dance floor of an 80’s disco. Ambient grooves, layered sampled beats and catchy choral lyrics are apparent in “Rabbit In The Headlights”. It’s a clear nod to all the classic 80’s artists and succeeds in Oakley’s mission to capture the nostalgic, melancholic ‘John Hughes movie feel’. Receiving approval from the popular and renown retro YouTube channel, New Retro Wave, who posted the track on their site, the song has now garnered hundreds of thousands of plays.
Described as “melancholic postcards from the heart wrapped up in synthesisers and drum machines”, Michael Oakley’s highly anticipated EP is sure to be a sentimental journey back to one of the most significant decades of musical history. Working with the likes of Pete Maher (U2, Depeche Mode, The Killers) Oakley’s music has already had the stamp of approval from industry professionals. California is due for release fall 2017 worldwide.
Follow Michael Oakley