By Zach Collier
“I write a lot of songs,” says Michael Whittle, lead singer for the Provo-based tribal pop act OKKAH. “About six months ago we met as a band to decide what songs we wanted to work on for our next release. I brought a batch of a hundred to a hundred and fifty songs and we picked six. After that night I thought to myself, well, what am I going to do with the rest of them? So I started to write more and more songs until the list grew to be about two hundred, then three hundred, and still growing.”
Thus Whittle’s solo project, MOIO, was born. MOIO is Whittle’s attempt to make something that is “100% authentic” to who he is as a person. Some artists set out on their own because a band restricts them – keeps them from being themselves. But for Whittle, that’s not the case. His early life was a peculiar set of circumstances: he grew up in unfamiliar countries, noticeably different from the people surrounding him. Now he’s taking the time to find himself.
“I am trying to figure out who I am. I started to question this as a half white, half Korean kid growing up in Japan,” Whittle says. “Then later when I moved back to the states I got to experience a new kind of multi cultural existence.”
His first single, “AIR,” is due out this Friday. He says this song – and the rest of the upcoming album – is about his “attempt to deconstruct barriers of self categorization in order to see people in a new way.” A deeply personal project, this album is a compilation of stories about him trying to figure out his place in the world. And he says “AIR” is the first chapter.
“I [collaborated] with local producers Eric Robertson (Pleasant Pictures/New Shack), Chris Bennion (Bone Shack Studio/Coral Bones), and Robbie Connolly (Fictionist) to learn from them while I was producing my first set of MOIO songs,” says Whittle. “I wanted to see what sound I could come up with on my own and I ended up loving it and wanting to share it with others. What I create with OKKAH is beautiful because it is a mixture of what I create with Ammon, Dane, Lee and Caleb. MOIO is fun because I get to see what happens when it is just me. Both are very fulfilling but different.”
MOIO’s first single drops this Friday, June 24th on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Make sure to like MOIO on Facebook, follow MOIO on Instagram (@moiomusic), and check out the promotional video for “AIR” below. To learn more, visit moiomusic.com. You can also read our review of OKKAH’s Islands.