Lost At Midnight is out April 24th on Astralwerks
While traversing the veins of Japan by bullet train, Ryan Chadwick, aka OTR, found himself adapting to isolation by learning the foundations of music production. Equipped with a MIDI keyboard he purchased right before accepting an aerospace engineering internship abroad; the Ohio native absorbed inspiration from his sudden change in scenery while developing self-taught piano skills picked up during college.
As fate would have it, the program dissolved as Chadwick’s music began taking off, causing the rising producer to arrive at a pivotal crossroad while fellow artists and labels expressed increasing interest in his melodic electronic sounds. Now, a few years later, OTR welcomes another major turning point in his career.
Following the self-release of his debut EP, Unfold, OTR signed with the iconic imprint Astralwerks in 2019 and began setting the groundwork for his debut album, Lost At Midnight. Due for release on Friday, April 24th, the new album is an emotionally complex and cinematic 12-track record blending organic and progressive synth-laden melodies.
Our first introduction to Lost At Midnight appeared in 2019 with the release of “Heart” featuring Shallou. Over 12 million streams later — and having already shared new album singles with Ukiyo, WYNNE, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Panama, and Au/Ra — Chadwick is ready to unveil his extraordinary debut effort.
We’re connecting ahead of the release of your debut album, Lost At Midnight, which drops April 24th. How does the title allude to the emotions and themes of this album?
Most of the music I write, I typically create at night. I think it’s hard for me to think about how things affect me until everything kind of gets calmed down. I think that’s a really big part of it. Around midnight is when the things that happen in my life, I can actually thinking through writing it down. It’s kind of like until midnight I’m lost until that moment when I can start putting it down on paper.
To your point about needing time alone to process before creating – the album features a handful of collaborations. Did that at all change your process while working on the album?
No, actually! It’s kind of weird. I think with most if not all of the collaborations, I would meet them wherever, we would hang out in person, and then I’d sort of hoard all of the material we had and go back home and then have the exact same process. I’d be like ‘alright cool, we got the stuff we needed? I’m just going to go home now and just do the same thing that I know how to do. Everyone was cool with it. Sometimes it would take maybe a few months to come up with something that felt right, and everyone was just telling me to do my thing. Luckily, everything kind of worked together and fit together on the album.
Most recently, you shared “Broken” with Au/Ra, which you mention was once more a happy pop anthem. What led to you wanting to change it into a darker sounding track?
The initial session we had with the writer Jax [Miskanic], she has written just so many great songs previously, and she had this really strong idea vocally. I knew it was just awesome from the get-go, but at the moment, it was hard for me to connect with the music from just the chord progression because it was just too happy for me. So yeah, as I said before, I took all of that, went back home, and then came up with the new layout that kind of made more sense to the project and the world that I was thinking of. It was kind of cool to blend the two worlds and see what could happen from that.
You shared a music video for the track “Midnight Sun,” which features various outer space scenes – will we get one for “Broken,” and will it follow that theme?
Yeah, we had one scheduled, but just ‘cause of all of the craziness, things had to be shifted around. We do have a lyric video that will be released at the beginning of May that has the same theme. It was shot at the same location, and it has a bunch of different clips from the location as the “Midnight Sun” shoot. So that will be cool to see. I just got that video a few days ago. So, that’ll be out soon, and then we’ll see whether or not we can come up with a schedule for a “Broken” music video in the future, but yeah, everything right now is just a little crazy.
Have you started conceptualizing the video? Is there anything you can tell us about it?
We have — I don’t know how much I can say because it might change. It’s the same team, Black Lake, and they came up with the same idea and pitch right when we came up with the “Midnight Sun” idea. So it’s kind of in a similar vein, and it’ll be shot similarly, but in terms of the scope and how it’ll work out, I think a lot of that stuff, too, the way videos work out… you just don’t know until you go to the shoot and see what’s available to you. Especially because Black Lake is a relatively smaller team. They’re really creative on the spot, and it’s cool to see them work. I got to see them work last time for the “Midnight Sun” video, but it’s just cool how they’ll have a general scope or idea and, at the moment, have sparks of inspiration and just run with it. So we’ll just have to see what happens with the video.
The upcoming album features an exciting mix of artists. Did anything specifically inspire your decision while choosing who to work with or anyone you were listening to?
Yeah, I was listening to a lot of M83 last year. I think what I liked about his music was the ability to layer this airy vocal on top of an already busy electronic background, and that was something that I wanted to try to do. When I first had my session with Shallou, his vocals were relatively airy, but I wanted to see what I could do with them and make them more punchy. I think it was more hearing an artist and knowing they were in a similar lane from an airy vocal standpoint, but then knowing I could possibly bring them to a different level since I do all of the vocal production on my music. So it was just kind of fun to see, like working with an instrument, what I could do with someone that is similar but bringing them to something else. We went through a few artists, just in demos and a few collaborations, and the ones that stood out to me were ones that could have that anthemic sound but also bring it back down to more chill settings. It was a delicate balance.
On the album, “Rebel” feels like a big standout track. Can you tell me a little about what led to its creation or the story behind it?
When I first wrote the instrumental for “Rebel,” I think I was just feeling frustrated with just how I was sounding in general at the time with music. I felt like everything just sounded the same, and I was just blabbing out a lot of shit. So I just wrote the instrumental. Then I was talking to LOWES, who’s featured on it, and we were just talking about what was going on in our lives at the time. When we do have that frustration, there’s just a lot of stuff — like my partner has to deal with me being crazy all the time because I’m just all over the place emotionally when I’m not liking my music. So it’s nice when you make an instrumental that feels like a breakout, kind of like, I’m just going to kick myself up and try to move forward, and I think that’s where that was inspired from—just trying to bring myself up and get outside of my head.
How did you get out of that feeling when trying to work on this album?
When I was feeling healthy, I’d try to go out on runs, but when I wasn’t, I’d just get a bottle of wine and watch Netflix. Wallow a bit, but then my girlfriend would be like, “what are you doing? Come on, do something better and productive.” I’d listen to music I like. Everyone has their guilty pleasures with food, and I have it with music. Where I’d just put on old music from 2009 that I liked, and that would just bring me back to my roots. It just puts things in perspective when you’re constantly working and just need to get out of your head sometimes.
You definitely have another reason to watch Netflix now because “Midnight Sun” is on the soundtrack for their film, To All The Boys PS I Still Love You. Did you watch to see at what point it was added?
Yeah, I was actually at the premiere for it. It was in LA, and they invited me, so I went. It was so funny because they also invited a ton of fans to watch the premiere as well, and it plays right when the main male character first shows up. I was excited to hear the song, but I couldn’t hear it because all of the girls were screaming so loudly that the character finally showed up. So I was like, oh well there it is but I can’t really hear it. It was cool, and I got to meet the people that included me and they were nice.
You’re hopefully going on tour starting in June. It’s your first headline tour. What are you most looking forward to in terms of your set?
In terms of the set, I think it’ll be cool, I’m already doing it now, but building everything up so that the music has a more live characteristic to it. Something that blends more fluidly and has kind of like an Act I, Act II, Act III, rise and fall characteristics to it. I’m excited about the visuals. Black Lake, the people who helped with my music videos, are also helping with visuals too, so that’ll look cool. I’ve seen some renderings from that, and I’m excited for it. Outside of that, I’m just really excited to finally meet everybody because up until this point, this project has been living on my computer. So it’ll be kind of nice to just be out there in the open in real life, and hopefully, this is all over and done.
OTR’s debut album, Lost At Midnight drops April 24th, pre-save, and stream the album here.