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Honolulu, Hawaii, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE

Honolulu, Hawaii, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Hip Hop Electronic




"The Right Time For Beat-making"

Taking a cue from the title of Scott Ohtoro‘s new collection of electronic, folk, pop and hip-hop cut-ups, it seems that now is the right time for this studious and inventive musician to show off his latest in beat-making.

Whether helping to cook up for the Ginger & Smoke pop-up eatery or collaborating with his friends on his other musical projects Hearios and Super Groupers (the latter including Navid Najafi, IllisIt Martin and newest member Aksent Tupou), you can be assured that whatever he applies himself to and presents to the public, it will be of high quality.

“The rappers in Super Groupers are more socially conscientious, and our recordings are very thematic. In the live shows I do with them, I focus on doing the beats and making good hip-hop tracks,” Ohtoro says.

Ohtoro is an artistic omnivore, getting his nutrients from whatever strikes his fancy. During our interview he lists inspirations such as Aloe Blacc, Exile, J Dilla, Flying Lotus, the Stones Throw record label and TOKiMONSTA, who just played a well-received DJ set at Ginza Nightclub on October 18. His pop sensibility is definitely old school, and you can hear samples a-plenty in his well-structured beat compositions as he mixes in vocals from old and obscure 45s from the 1960s.

While he travels to-and-from Culver City in SoCal, Honolulu has been his main base of operations since 2007. Ohtoro keeps plugging away and he seems to be the kind of guy that enjoys the process of creating as much as seeing the end product.

He hopes SXSW (South by Southwest) will accept his and Super Groupers’ multimedia presentation into the March music showcase in 2015. Ohtoro said they’re about halfway through a new album that will be part of the SXSW package.

“The solo beat albums, like When the Right Time, are more experimental; an outlet from Super Groupers. … I’m in a sampling mode, right now,” says Ohtoro.

Ohtoro pays attention to craft and detail. That do-it-yourself spirit is reflected in the vinyl release of When the Right Time. “I plan to press 100 individually numbered copies with a bonus track, all with handmade, letterpress covers. I’ve made and put out 15 so far.” Considering that he likes to promote live visuals, it’s no surprise that the album’s recent release party brought those elements of music and art together.

“When I mix my music, I like to bring in a wider range of sounds, and to have a live feel that surprises people, with unexpected hooks in melody and chords,” he says.

Proof positive is When the Right Time, which has become one of my favorite albums of 2014. The mixing and mastering job is top-notch and sounds great played over a sound system. It’s music meant to be shared and leaves you wanting more.

It’s a smooth ride through the album. The whimsically titled “Number One Tuna” is a great opening track, with a synth melody, flute sample, and clack-and-drum pattern that evolves into a dubby soundscape. That mood-changing approach is repeated on another instrumental, “Down by Three Thunder Rivers” that has a futuristic exotica feel, ala Arthur Lyman/Martin Denny, that gets adeptly chopped up.

A favorite singer collaborator with Ohtoro, Portland-via-Honolulu artist Sabrina Velazquez (who goes by the sobriquet Montclaire) brings her cool voice to a driving string-sampled “Dakara, Air Says Breathe” and the brief, melancholy tone poem “Open the Gate.”

The guys in Super Groupers share in the experience, as well. Aksent adds a rap pattern to the sensual “Drop It Down (Can’t Get Up)” and its luxurious strings, beats-and-claps and synth edge. Meanwhile, the entire group collaborates on the atmospheric “Last Echo in the Chamber,” which also includes guests Hearios and singer Erika Elona.

Ohtoro’s beat instrumentals would make great soundtrack snippets: “Lotus Island (New Beginning),” the fearless exploration present in “We’re Lost and No Map,” the gamelan music/hip-hop scratching of “HAPPYfrown,” and “Brisk at Dawn,” which—with its acoustic guitar and vibraphone elements—is as spry and hopeful sounding as it should be.

Ohtoro wants to tour with this album, but not in the usual way of flying to the West Coast for a handful of dates. “I got to tour for a year because the music I’m doing now is of good quality. I’m thinking of doing the Japan/Taiwan/Europe route. Those places especially like the kind of beats and hip-hop that I’m doing.”

If you want to hear Scott Ohtoro live, you can usually find him in the collaborative settings of Chinatown venues Nextdoor and the Dragon Upstairs. You can learn more about his art online. - The Hum, Gary Chun

"Beyond The Groove: The Spacey Sounds Of Scott Ohtoro’s New Album"

There’s a 12-inch gold-plated record floating in space right now. It contains artifacts from Earth, including greetings in 55 languages, sounds from nature, and 27 songs from Bach to Bulgarian folk. Launched in 1977, it passed Pluto in 1990 and will take 40,000 years to reach the next planetary system.

If another civilization does encounter it, Earth’s story will successfully be transmitted to extraterrestrials.

Considering Honolulu’s closest record-pressing plant is 2,500 miles away, local artists might think it’s an equally daunting journey to put their music on a record.

Scott Ohtoro knows that’s not true. One-third of local hip-hop act Super Groupers, Scott recently released his debut beat album, When The Right Time, on digital, CD and vinyl.

In October 2013 — inspired by Flying Lotus, Samurai Champloo, and a trip to the Low End Theory Festival where artists like Teebs, Baths and Nosaj Thing perform experimental, spacey music exemplary of Los Angeles’ beat scene — Scott embarked on a journey to make an album with a powerful mood, a whimsical title and live instrumentation.

“Halfway through the album, I knew I had something special,
something timeless,” Scott recalls. “Vinyl is perfect for that.”

But his journey would require patience. After creating his beats with an Akai MPC100 and Ableton software, Scott needed to find a vinyl manufacturer, master his music for vinyl (records are a physical medium with limitations different from digital), design the label and raise enough money to fund everything.

“When I was DJing in college, hip-hop records would usually list the vinyl production company. That’s how I found out about Rainbo Records. They pressed a lot of my favorite underground hip-hop records,” Scott explains.

“Find out everything about your favorite albums,” he recommends for anyone hoping to press their own. “I love everything from Stones Throw Records. I found out who masters their music and reached out to the [mastering studio].”

Scott also found inspiration in the work of Stones Throw designer Jeff Jank.

“Funding was the biggest challenge since we don’t live near a company that presses vinyl,” he says. “You need to be creative and never give up the passion.”

In March, Scott hosted a fundraiser with retailer About The Goods to raise money to press 100 vinyl copies of WTRT. Each album is individually numbered with custom covers hand-painted by Scott and friends.

“I’m a vinyl junkie, so it was awesome being able to create it from scratch,” Scott says.

The journey took about one year to complete.

“It was a long process but well worth it.” Scott’s decision to press When The Right Time to 12-inch vinyl records doesn’t mean aliens will discover his music in 40,000 years, but it does mean something: Maybe in 40 years one of our grandchildren will encounter it, dig up a turntable and be transported back to 2014.

“The day I got the physical copies was almost an out-of-body experience,” Scott says. “The music didn’t feel mine anymore, it felt like ours.”

When The Right Time can be purchased on vinyl, digital, and CD at esomusicart. esomusicart.blogspot.com. Find Scott at facebook.com/scottohtoro.

For more from Roger, visit alohagotsoul.com. - Roger Bong

"[Music Monday]: Shanghai Vinyl Diggers"

DJ: RawB

Pick: Ohtoro - When The Right Time 12” LP

Genre: Indie Hip Hop, Beats

Year: 2014

Price: 400RMB

Seller: Daily Vinyl Online Store

Honolulu based musician, producer, and beat maker Ohtoro has been making waves in Hawaii for the past ten years. Cultivating his craft with the guidance of producers such as Aloe Blacc, Exile, and DJ Cheap Shot, this 12” release When the Right Time is Ohtoro’s first. Everything on the debut album was played by Ohtoro and even the record covers are hand drawn by him.

RawB Says: "Experimental and hand-crafted, "When the Right Time" demonstrates super experimentation in beat-making. Ohtoro also shows off his well-structured beat compositions." - Smart Shanghai

"Scott Ohtoro Honolulu Public Radio"

J Dilla, Flying Lotus and other LA Beat Scene artists have been inspiring Scott Ohtoro as a beat crafter for over a decade. Scott’s eclectic music taste and ability to play multiple instruments lets him create soundscapes for any mood. He started making beats under the guidance of Aloe Blacc, DJ Cheapshot and Exile and has performed over 100 shows in the last year with local Hip Hop artist Super Groupers. "When The Right Time" is his latest release on cd and special edition vinyl -- It's a spacey journey through electronic and Hip Hop beats featuring Blu, Montclaire, Super Groupers and Erika Elona. Scott Ohtoro will celebrate the vinyl release of his new album “When The Right Time” on Friday September 12th at The Dragon Upstairs. - The Conversation

"All Things Gravy"

Now there’s only a few BBQ spots here on Oahu, the one place we all grew up knowing was Bob’s Bar-B-Q. When I want something heavy and I’m starving, we go to Bob’s. A new spot that opened in Aiea (which Aiea needed) is Hughley’s Southern Cuisine previously known as Ken Nae’s. Spicy but tangy sauce with the best cornbread I’ve ever had.
This past Saturday we had the pleasure of hosting Ginger & Smoke Pop-Up Restaurant at our flagship store. Owned by Scott Ohtoro and his partner, they brought a new FRESH (this is the keyword now) twist to what they call progressive barbecue. Integrating Asian influences like pickled radishes and ginger, Gochujang (Korean Red Chili Pepper Sauce) BBQ Sauce and L.A. nostalgia: Wonder Bread (or white bread) with brisket and ribs, Ginger & Smoke is definitely paving their way to that new new make you feel some type of way barbecue in Hawaii. The best part is that you could eat plates on plates of G&S and you don’t really feel guilty because it taste, for lack of a better term, clean. All in all, we enjoyed the food here at About The Goods. Many went back for thirds (I know I did), even fourths and it was all to support and fundraise money for Ohtoro’s first beat album “When The Right Time” to be pressed on vinyl. - About The Goods

"Word To Super Groupers"

The Super Groupers features MCs Najafi, Illist It, Aksent, and producer/wild card DJ Scott Ohtoro. They have a notably distinctive sound in the Hawaii Hip-Hop scene.

This is a band of challenge. None of their recorded music has vulgarities and they keep their music pumped with conscious lyricism. Not just limiting themselves to social and political awareness, their music touches anything in everyday life. They have songs on love, struggle, and heartache; you can feel the honesty in their sounds. This practice of raw rap forces them to take it back to the basics. Instead of being “hot rappers,” Super Groupers have managed to keep their music real and down to earth. They also make it a point to not be too serious with their work; they draw their ideas from life and try to incorporate that into their music.

Hip-Hop is currently in a materialistic state
The trend of Hip-Hop culture being capitalized on with catchy raps will soon come to an end and the era of golden Hip-Hop will be resurrected. Along with that will be the cassette, the origin of Rap. Cassette tapes catch the “fat sounds” Hip-Hop was birthed through and requires MCs to treat the art of recording as a craft; cassettes are made with only one take per song. Along with honoring the classic sound, Super Groupers pushes their limits by incorporating international sounds in their production. Super Groupers influences include experimental artists such as Outkast, J Dilla, Pharrell, and Flying Lotus. - Art & Flea

"Scene+Heard: Scott Eats Ohtoro from Cali to Hawaii"

It’s been an interesting week. First, I got free tickets from a friend to see Mark Kozelek perform at the Aladdin Theater. This will appeal to any of you children of the ’90s fans of Red House Painters or Sun Kil Moon. Completely amazing and definitely worth seeing, it was an intimate show of Kozelek, a guitar and songs that tugged at your heartstrings. It was also indicative of the rainy weather looming overhead.

Then, this sinus infection I’ve had all week manifested into a full-blown ear infection and I finally had to haul myself to the doctor. While I was there, I got to talking with the doctor about me being from Hawaii and she asked me what just about every person asks when they hear this, “Why in the world would you move from Hawaii?”

Usually I speak the truth — “For a new experience,” “For music” or “For inspiration for songwriting.”

At that point though, it was 42 degrees out and I said, “I have no absolutely no idea!” I’ll admit it. I was homesick and all I wanted to do was pick up saimin from Zippy’s, go home, and catch up on the episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” that I missed.

It got me thinking that maybe I would try to look for other fellow musicians who I knew moved from Hawaii for music and connect. I know, it’s not uncommon for people to move away from home, but I guess sometimes I feel like if you are from Hawai’i it’s just a little different. It’s hard to sit here in the cold when I look at my iPhone weather app and see that it’s currently 83 degrees and sunny in my hometown of Kaneohe.

So, I decided to reach out. The first person I thought of was my friend who performs under the name Scott Eats Ohtoro. I met him in 2007 in Honolulu just before he moved to Southern California. Yes, he’s originally a Cali native, but he made his mark in the Hawaii music scene with his indie soul band, Hearios, before moving back to SoCal after their first album release. Since moving, he has branched out into producing, electronic music and continues to go back to Hawaii to reconnect with the scene there.

After recently releasing the EP “Like to Love,” and remixing one of my songs “Places” a few months ago, I thought it might be a good time to catch-up and talk about Hawaii, music, and what’s next.

Sabrina Velazquez: Your sound runs the gamut and combines a lot of different genres. Describe your music to a new listener.

Scott Eats Ohtoro: I like to call it folk-soul. It’s got the folky, mellow instrumentation with soulful lyrics. Hearios is a mix of Dirty Projectors, Pharcyde and Outkast. My alias, Scott Eats Ohtoro, is like Toro Y Moi and J Dilla.

SV: You seem to have a wealth of knowledge about different styles of music. What were/are your influences?

SEO: I have always been a fan of all types of music. Growing up my parents would play the Beach Boys, Kalapana, Mamas & Papas and Motown. My older brother got me into hip-hop like Kool Moe Dee, D-Nice, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Then in high school I got into underground hip-hop from the college radio station. Around the time of college, I branched out to other music like Radiohead, Weezer, and Portishead. Now I listen to everything from Best Coast, Twin Shadow, Blu, Mayer Hawthorne, TV on the Radio, St. Vincent and Mia Doi Todd. If you really pay attention to my music, you can hear bits and pieces of all these artists.

SV: We met in Hawaii a few years back when you were just releasing the Hearios first album. Since then, you have moved to Southern California and branched out into your own solo music which seems much more electronic, as well as dabbling in producing. What is the status of the Hearios? And how has moving back to California influenced you musically?

SEO: I am working on the new Hearios record called “Feelings Are Not Fact” which will be released in January 2012. It’s going to be a really great album; funky folky beats with witty lyrics and beautiful melodies. I visited Hawaii a couple months ago and the band and I did an awesome show at Indigo in Chinatown. This really got me motivated to release the album, which I have been working on for about three years now.

I really needed to be in Los Angeles to finish the record because of all the great music surrounding me and it is a very personal record for me. Seems like every week there’s a new album from indie to chillwave to electronic. When I started producing the record in Hawaii I knew I wanted this electronic/folky/soulful sound and I guess I had to be in Los Angeles to finally get that sound.

SV: How was it to go back to Hawaii to perform?

SEO: It felt really good to play with the band again (thanks to Seann, Navid, Anné). It’s been years since we played together but when we went over the songs it was like I never left. We rocked and got a really good response. More motivation juice for me to head back to Los Angeles and complete the album.

SV: Why California and how does the industry and music scene there differ from the one in Hawaii?

SEO: I am originally from Culver City in Los Angeles, and it felt natural that I head back to regroup with family and friends. Plus I saw the success of my mentors Aloe Blacc, Exile and DJ Cheapshot and I wanted to learn more from them. The music scene is very different as you can guess.

In Los Angeles there are so many venues and so many bands and everyone wants to make it, so it gets pretty saturated and cutthroat. In Hawaii though, it’s a lot more grassroots and plenty of chances to jam and play weekly shows. There’s more opportunity to start something awesome in Hawaii because the people are yearning for something fresh and new.

SV: Let’s talk about your songwriting process a little bit. Your recent release is more electronic and includes sampling. How do you come up with your ideas and I am assuming these are all self-recorded?

SEO: I started off in 1998 with two turntables, a 4-track, sampler and drum machine. I would go to the thrift shop and get cheap records and then record Hip Hop beats for me and some friends. When I was in Hawai’i I got into acoustic guitar and a mellower sound. I wanted to combine both styles into a new sound I call “Folk-Soul”. With the help of Seann Carroll we started on the first Hearios record and it was mind-blowing.

That was the direction I wanted to go; sounds like a live band but it’s sampling myself instead of vinyl. Being in Los Angeles and hearing that everything is more electronic, I wanted to add that to my music without changing the integrity of the Hearios laid back feel. So I absorb all the music around me and then when I work on my own stuff it becomes Hearios, folk-soul.

Ideas come from personal experiences or from small random things. There’s a song from the new Hearios LP called “Electric Purple” which was based on the color of an earring and “Saturn Returns Today” which is about me turning 30 and starting a new decade. I produce, record, mix, write, perform and arrange all the music in my studio Dojo-Arigato.

SV: You did an awesome job remixing my song “Places” and have been producing lately. Tell me about how you got into that and how it’s changed your perspective on your own music?

SEO: Thanks, it was so much fun remixing your song! I usually write a lot of music on my guitar or piano first. I was taking a break from the Hearios record and wanted to get back into my sampling roots but with a greater knowledge of music composition. I took out my Dr. Sample and Dr. Groove and got some practice on some Bollywood vinyl, which resulted in my “Indian Winter-Summer EP”. I forgot how fun it was to work the sampler.

It was a nice break because I learned how to cut up samples easier. When I go back and work on new Hearios music, I can already hear the samples and bass lines and it makes producing music more fluid.

SV: 2012 is just around the corner, what’s next?

SEO: The biggest thing on the agenda is the Hearios “Feelings Are Not Fact” album. I am really proud of this record and I know it will change music — ready for the tour Honolulu?

But before then, I will be releasing Hearios “Belly EP” in December, which will be a free download in promotion for our full length LP. I have a Scott Eats Ohtoro EP in the works and will be starting an instrumental beat record. So keep an ear out for news and updates. - Sabrina Velazquez


Ohtoro "When The Right Time"
Super Groupers "Chasing Phantoms EP (cassette)"
Super Groupers "Outdoor Adventure Club EP"
Super Groupers "The_Something_ep"
Hearios "Feelings Are Not Fact"
Hearios "Hearios"



Ohtoro is one of those Los Angeles Beat Scene musician/dj/producer who gets influenced by Flying Lotus, Dirty Projectors, J Dilla and Toro Y Moi. Previously collaborating with Aloe Blacc, Dj Cheapshot, Blu & Exile and Choosey, Ohtoro has taken all of these music influences and released a magnificent beat album called "When The Right Time" on cd and special edition hand designed vinyl. Living in Honolulu has also added a sunny, laid back shine to the beats which were all composed, played and produced by Ohtoro in his sanctuary The Beet Market. Having performed over 100 shows last year, Ohtoro wants to spread his music throughout the country and communities because music has the power to influence and create change. He wants to share this message with everyone! 

Band Members