Stefan Otto is one of Orlando’s finest hip hop artists. His music has evolved over the years and now he is gaining popularity not just in the United States but also globally. He has just released his sophomore album called Love Means War and he just recently did a show with Michelle Bonilla of Rocksoul Entertainment. Harry Itie of Yada Magazine got a chance to talk to him about his music amongst other things. Enjoy.
YADA: Your album is called Love means war. Can you tell us what inspired the album title?
The Love Means War concept and came from a season in which I felt like God was taking me through and still is. I remember writing in my journal one day “lovers love, warriors war” I felt like that was the phrase ringing in my heart towards the end of the recording process. I had already chosen another title and everything, but this phrase seemed to speak louder to me than the titled I had already chosen. I felt it better described the whole season I was in. It was a calling from one place into another…into the making of the warrior and being un-apologetic in becoming that. What I wrote in my journal to me was not quite fitting for a title although it described things well. I decided to revisit the concept and develop it a bit more and came to Love Means War. When you love truth you war against falsehood. When you love God you war against the world, flesh, and enemy. When you love someone you will war on their behalf. So this album very much speaks of commitment, roles, and relationship. Love Means War.
YADA: In the video attached to the album, you said the album was not finished. What are we to expect from the complete album?
The purpose for the Love Means War instrumental was to hear the listener’s interpretation of Love Means War. So the album is unfinished in the sense that the listener must add their piece to finish the album. They are to record their spoken word/song/rap/ vocals over the instrumental and share their take on the concept. The responses are then sent back to me on youtube to my youtube channel. (StefanOttomusic) If they are not connected with me via youtube or other social networks then unfortunately they won’t be able to hear other people’s interpretations. There will not be another release of the album to include these but will they surly will be available on the internet and will be something I will share with the community of listeners. The idea was to create community and connect with people and it has been going well so far. Some pretty impressive stuff.
YADA: How has your music journey been for you considering that you are an indie artist?
The journey has been really interesting. It has been full of highlights and ups and downs. It has also been full of a lot of learning and character building lessons. It is said “better people make better music” so I am very much appreciative of the process of me developing as a person because I know it makes for better music. As an indie artist I am glad I am able to learn and grow and develop my sound naturally. I’m not too fond of the reversal whereas I would be given a sound to create or replicate or that simply is not truly me. Overall it has been great I would say even including those times of difficulty.
YADA: Most artists in the United States, especially those of faith are going indie. What is that thing that sparked up the indie music revolution?
I am not too sure if there is only one answer for this question. There are a few factors involved. To start, I think artists and musicians are now realizing that they have what it takes to produce, record, and distribute their music to the world without the need of a record company/label. I also think with the advancement of technology and with the internet as a great tool artist realize it isn’t impossible to have their music played and listened to across the globe. This makes even us indie artists accessible to anyone in the world by a few clicks on the computer. In the U.S, I also think that the times of recession have played a role in some artists maybe going independent. Things can be managed at a different level in regards to budgeting/overhead fees etc. As far as Faith based artists, I believe the times have only gotten darker within the world and music business (not all). What this means is that more “Faith based” artists are maybe trying their best to manage in keeping a life of commitment to their Faith by not “selling-out” and abandoning their life of conviction. I do think there can be multiple factors that may lead to this decision as well but that would be my response.
YADA: In 10 years, what do you think the state of music will be like?
You know…prophecy is always a difficult thing to do (laughs). But seriously, I hope the state of music in 10 years is in a much better place. I cannot answer for everyone by I myself as an artist will continue and strive to bring forth music from God that can challenge, encourage, and reach people where they are at in a greater dimension than before. God willing, we will see and hear greater songs, albums, and music as a whole.
YADA: What is your creative process like?
My creative process has developed over the years. It began in cycles where I would have to wait for inspiration and something to stir me to write and was not as fluid as it is now. I believe I am now in a place where it is more conditioned to call upon it when needed. I keep a notebook with me and am constantly writing down my thoughts, words, or phrases and things that stick out to me. I can have a conversation with someone, see a movie, or read something somewhere and something remains in my mind so I write it down. The notebook is like a thought closet. It is where I can always go back to receive inspiration, ideas, and concepts to create from if necessary. As far as song writing I think any songwriter will agree and say that the process is not always the same. Sometimes I will sit down to write a song and the whole thing will just flow out. Other times it can be just writing a verse or chorus. I love how the process can be unpredictable at times and then again just so natural.
YADA: Describe a downtime in your career and how you got over it?
There was a time when I really questioned the calling of God on my life and my purpose. It actually happened during the recording process of Love Means War. I stopped everything. I stopped recording, writing, and working on the album altogether. I began praying and talking to the Lord. I asked Him if what I was doing really pleased Him and if so was I really being effective for His Kingdom. During that pause and time of questioning, which lasted a few months, I began receiving confirmation after confirmation from random people, close friends, and also feeling that assurance within my heart that I was called and anointed by God to make music and reach people. So prayer really was how I was able to make it through.
YADA: Tell us about any embarrassing moment you have had making music or performing.
It wasn’t embarrassing really but more so hilarious. I was performing for some kids at a youth event and it was a big open warehouse type setting. There was a huge box that contained these red foam balls that the kids began throwing at one another and then began throwing them at me while I was on stage. It was hilarious looking back. I am a fun sport so I began throwing them back while performing. It could’ve been embarrassing if I was all into myself and wanted to come off as cool but I just joined in the fun. It was definitely a moment to remember.
YADA: When do you plan to visit Nigeria? –
I have had the opportunity to travel to Africa three different times. Johannesburg, South Africa twice and Rwanda once but never Nigeria. If I am ever invited to come out to Nigeria I will surly try to be there! I love Africa! Africa reminds me a lot of back home in the Carribean.
YADA: A final word for our readers.
It was Ravi Zacharias who said “Don’t give up on hope because when there is a death of hope the only thing left is the hope of death.” Remember…this is our assurance. We have hope in Christ! Stay encouraged!
Songs on your playlist now-Brooke Fraser“Jack Kerouac”,Christy Knockles “Healing is in your hands”, Dj Nicolas- “Bak to do owna”, JR- “Weird Fishes”
Last movie you just saw– The Way Back
Soda or Apple juice– Cranberry Apple Juice
Last Book you read– Jesus Among other gods- Ravi Zacharias
Your mentor– Ravi Zacharias
Guilty pleasure– Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
Favourite pastime –(One of many) Performing at Downtown Disney in the Virgin Mega Store in Orlando Florida.
To download Love Means War, click here. Also, Stefan Otto will be featured on Yada’s first compilation album called “The Yada Music Project. Vol. 1. The album also features Je’kob Washington, Applejaxx, eMJoy among others. Watch Stefan perform the free verse “Broke the Silence” below.