DJ's On Disposables | Ookay

by Paulette Ely

Maybe it was the intoxication of a Coachella crowd screaming his name or the heat that got to his head, but Abraham Laguna, otherwise known as Ookay, had to have been one of the most genuine, inspiring and overall enchanting people I had the pleasure of meeting. The 27 year old has been drawing inspiration from Coachella as a festival go-er for years, and his excitement to talk about his journey and share some never before heard stories with me sparked some inspiration in and of itself. After writing Thief and having it grow the likes of about 60 million Spotify souls, the dance music scene is at the hands of Abraham and his mixing board. With a killer set and another one (or two if you visit the Heineken House) next weekend, the tangibility of success for him is overwhelming. But that didn’t keep us from sharing some laughs and getting deeper (not musically) than ever before. 

Photo by:  Paulette Ely

Photo by: Paulette Ely

Where did the name Ookay come from?

I thought every other name was taken, so I kind of bit the bullet and I was like ‘Uhhhhh Okay?’

You’re based in LA. Born and raised?

I’m actually from San Diego, but HQ is LA. I would say some experiences that I have had in San Diego has influenced my music, but definitely LA has been an inspiration. I wrote my song Better Off just walking around in downtown. I had a moment where I didn’t know what I wanted to eat, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to be in my headphones. I live in downtown, which is a pretty chaotic place to live, and I was walking to a Ramen place. There was a man who talked to me and I didn’t take my headphone out. He started talking to me and I told him I didn’t have any cash I could give, and he was like ‘That’s not what I asked you.’ So I took my headphone out to understand and was like ‘What’s up man?’ He was like ‘I didn’t ask for you to buy me food, I asked if you wanted to eat with me.’ I was like ‘Oh my god, yeah sure.’ So I ate Ramen with him, did find out that he was homeless and we ended up just talking. So that’s what the song is all about. This was just a moment I don’t think I would have had anywhere else, Los Angeles is the kind of place where something sporadic can happen. Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever talked about it. This was a moment that really happened. It was really cool to write a complete song, as soon as I got home after Ramen I cranked it out in 5 hours. 

How does the Coachella experience differ from other festivals that you’ve performed at?

Its a personal thing. This is one of the first ones where I’ve had a lot of epiphanies musically. I knew I wanted to become a life project here. I knew the next song that I needed to write was Thief, which became one of my biggest songs. It’s funny because here I am performing the song in the place that inspired the whole thing. Its insane. During Thief, I literally fell on the ground, looking up at the ceiling of the Sahara tent and was like ‘Damn, this is a long time coming.’ I worked my ass off. I can’t believe I’m playing the song I wrote because of this festival. It feels like a dream. 

Photo by:  Paulette Ely

Photo by: Paulette Ely

How did it feel when “Thief” got so much positive feedback?

For one, it grew a lot of confidence in me and my music. It gave me a lot of hope that I can go in a different direction and people can follow. It led to my album being more on the musical and singing side and song writing and creating a live show that reflects the music that I was making at the moment. It was a year and a half process, and it was finally ready for Coachella. I think if i had this opportunity last year I wouldn't have been ready. I think finally bringing this into the world and showing that its very special led up to this point. Thief gave me that opportunity to reach this new height. If I just did a DJ thing it would have been cool, but I knew I had a lot more to offer. Not for anyone else, just for myself. 

Has there been a moment for you when you realized you would produce music for the rest of your life?

I was producing prior to Thief, but I was just following the trends that were happening. I was trying to not replicate but draw inspiration from those things. Coachella being a multi genre festival, you get to see a little bit of all kinds of amazing genres and artists doing things on complete opposite sides of the music industry spectrum. The dance world is a complete own world by itself, and theres a hip hop world and indie rock world and all this stuff, and you realize how small you really are here. That’s not in a bad way, but in a way in which the world goes around regardless of what you're doing, so how do you make a statement in such a big world? 

Anyone that you’re excited to see perform at Coachella that have inspired you?

The artists here give it everything. The proof is in the pudding. So many people are excited to be here and I haven't seen a single act that I didn't like. It means you're in good company. It means a lot. A lot of the influences for me are here like Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Tame Impala. Childish Gambino last night too. Just to be in that kind of company validates how hard I’ve been working. As far as everyone as being an inspiration, it also drives me to want to be so much better and to fit within that group of music. 

Photo by:  Paulette Ely

Photo by: Paulette Ely

What’s next for you?

I’m probably going to take a nap… either a four loco or some melatonin- there’s no in between. But really, the next thing that I need to focus on is my next album. Probably take a break from touring and bring something fresh and new that no one expects. It starts with me taking a break, in a music growing way. Work on propelling myself to the next stage.