Get to Know OCNotes, Host of KEXP’s Sunday Soul

Sunday Soul
photo by Greg Stonebraker

If you’ve been paying attention to Pacific Northwest hip-hop in the last decade, chances are you’ve stumbled across OCNotes, aka Otis Calvin III, the new DJ/host of KEXP’s Sunday Soul who makes his debut this Sunday, May 20 from 6-9 p.m. He’s an artist in his own right – putting out over 50 different releases between albums, mixtapes, and EPs under his OCNotes moniker as well as part of groups like Metal Chocolates and FREEKAZOIDZ. Calvin is a prolific collaborator as well, working with artists like Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, Fresh Espresso, Astro King Phoenix, and more.

Ahead of his debut in the KEXP DJ Booth, we asked Calvin a bit about his musical background, how being a recording artist influences his DJing, the soul music that helped define him, and what to expect from his new show.

How did you get your start DJing?

My mom gave my sister and I all her records when we were really little kids. Lots of jewels were in those records and it pretty much laid the foundation for us musically. I've always wanted to be a DJ, ever since the first time I heard a DJ on the radio. It’s the coolest thing to me and a highly honorable position in the coolest way. My mom had a friend that was a radio DJ in Seattle when we were kids and she would let us come by the station every now and then. I remember feeling like I was in a spaceship and wanting to push all the buttons. Now I get to push the buttons!


Aside from being a DJ, you’re also a prolific producer working with a number of local artists like THEESatisfaction, Shabazz Palaces, and Astro King Phoenix (just to name a few). How has making music influenced your work as a DJ? Any local acts you’re excited to play on your show?

Making music influences me as a DJ in lots of ways. Mostly it keeps me really interested in what’s current and going to happen in the future musically. I'm fortunate to know a lot of amazing artists that have yet to blow up and it's a gift to get to hear the music they make years before they will reach the light they are striving for. I am excited to play everything local I can get my hands on that is fresh, moving, and something I think cats will dig. Hopefully I can help increase attention and sales for more indie artists. Looking forward to a fully stocked inbox of music.

Who are some of the soul acts that have been most influential on you personally?

So many, too many to name them all. This is one of those questions that are the hardest to answer because it’s impossible to do without leaving someone out and then cats start hatin. I'll say one cat that really changed the game for me in a major way was Marvin Gaye. He was really out of this world. There are many others and when people listen to the show I will be sure to share as much info as possible about influences and alludat.


What type of mood and atmosphere are you hoping to create with your show?

First of all I'm gonna stay true to the funk and dedicated to the cuts. I want every show to be the best show people have ever heard. I want the atmosphere to be outer space! I want cats to be stuck in the driveway and the parking lots cause they don't want to turn the radio off! I want the little kids that’s got headphones on tuned in while they're supposed to be sleepin’ mesmerized because they've never heard music like this! I want the cats passin through on the freeways glued to the dial as they drive through the city, wishin' they could stay awhile longer. That’s the vibe I want to create. Gonna funk up the airwaves a little bit.

Anything else you want people to know about your new Sunday soul show?

Tune in, open up, and enjoy the trip. Every sunday 6 to 9 it's on. One of the greatest shows on planet earth on the greatest station on planet earth, KEXP. Also... send me music!!

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