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Down Time: Octo Octa On Escaping to Other Worlds in Music and Gaming

Illustration for article titled Down Time: Octo Octa On Escaping to Other Worlds in Music and Gaming
Photo: Eris Drew, Screenshot: Youtube/Nintendo

Down Time is a Jezebel series in which we ask our favorite artists and authors what art, books, and activities they’re turning to in this moment of isolation and uncertainty. DJ and producer Maya Bouldry-Morrison, who makes music as Octo Octa, spoke to Jezebel about processing via music and finding escape in games.

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This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.


There’s two things. The first is being a DJ; most of my year is traveling and playing shows, which of course I can’t really go do right now. So I’ve been working on music a lot and as a dance music producer, a lot of my work is autobiographical. Doing music is how I’ve processed my life and things that are happening to me. I just made a heart-connected mix [I’m] going to put out a mixtape of, and I’m trying to keep busy and creative on that front.

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Me and my partner Eris Drew, who’s another DJ and producer, we’ve been talking about this for years, that music is a healing technology. We both produce and create things to firstly help ourselves, and then hopefully help others. Deejaying is an art form in that it can be a narrative experience; you can use it to send messages and talk about what’s going on around you. The things I’ve been chasing and exploring with music feel just as important as it did before this happened.

And then the only other thing I’ve been doing is disconnecting from realities around me [by] playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Switch. I’ve been a Nintendo fangirl my entire life and the very first version of the game that came out on GameCube, I bought it immediately. I was still in high school, so that was probably 15 or 16 years ago. Of course, it’s an extremely calming activity. You’re building out your own island and helping people around you.

I was watching some TV, a [race-car competition] series on Netflix called Formula 1: Drive to Survive. For some reason I hate sports, but I love sports documentaries. [Laughs] [They] encapsulate all the drama, you just get to see the bite-size version of it. It’s strange because Season 2 came on and I started watching it and [someone says] “well, for our 2020 season,” and I’m just sitting there like, oh. It drops you immediately back into the reality of it, like that’s not happening for them. So it’s been strange spending time with videogames, something I’ve loved and collected forever to a) entertain myself but also b) to escape to other worlds in certain ways.

Pop Culture Reporter, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

Let’s be clear, pandemic or no pandemic, I was planning on staying inside my house and spending my precious little free time playing Animal Crossing this past week anyway. The only thing that changed is I had to set the game down and help my kid with many, many digital learning technical problems.