MIAMI -- English transplant Darren Ockert, the indie-pop artist and singer-producer, is likely to hear his remix of "Rain From London" at the hip clubs on the Miami Beach strip.
Ockert, who now calls Miami home, has teamed up with Italian remix guru OutBreak_Music to redo that title track off "Rain From London" (2012). The EP includes "Force Of Gravity," a track that was a finalist in the adult contemporary category in the UK song writing contest in 2012.
Darren Ockert chatted with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News about his music and his career, the artists who influenced him when he was growing up in a small town in England, whether he has a big gay following or a crossover audience, and answers the rumors on whether he is taken.
Ockert invites SDGLN readers to listen to “The Rain From London (OutBreak_music Remix)” here.
SDGLN: How would you describe your music?
Darren Ockert: If you put a synthesizer, some deep lyrics, a dash of British influence, a splash of quirkiness and a dab of vocal harmonies in a blender you will get the sound of Darren Ockert. I’d love to tell you I sound like such-and-such mixed with a little so-and-so but then I’d be lying.
SDGLN: Who were your musical inspirations, and why?
Darren Ockert: Growing up in the UK I was influenced heavily by the production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman who dominated the UK charts with acts such as Kylie Minogue, Bananarama, Rick Astley, Donna Summer, Dead or Alive and Mel & Kim. BBC radio’s eclectic playlists were also was hugely influential. I've always been drawn to pop-songwriters and at the same time been heavily influenced by the dance music scene in the UK in 90s. Artists I feel have influenced me and have been a big part of my life include: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Savage Garden, Robbie Williams, Eurythmics, John Lennon, The Carpenters, Kylie Minogue, Espen Lind, George Michael, ABBA, Erasure, OMD, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson’s "Rhythm Nation", Wham!, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Roxette, Technotronic, The KLF, and The Pet Shop Boys.
SDGLN: “The Rain From London” won Best Electric Song at the 2012 RightOutTV Music & Video Awards. What’s the story behind “The Rain From London,” and how did you end up remixing it with OutBreak_Music?
Darren Ockert: The song that won Best Electronic Song at the 2012 RightOutTV Music & Video Awards was actually a song of mine called “This Modern Life (1984)”. The song was inspired by George Orwell’s book “1984”. “The Rain From London” (remixed by OutBreak_music) came about from me asking him if he would remix the track. I have been following his remixes for a while and think he has some really interesting techniques.
SDGLN: You’ve remixed a handful of your songs over the years; what is your thinking behind this, and what is the goal?
Darren Ockert: I’m always looking out for really great dance remixers for my singles. The goal really is to make the song accessible to other listeners who might not have listened to the song in its original arrangement.
SDGLN: How did the 2006 OutMusic Award nomination for “Outstanding New Recording - Debut Male” affect your career?
Darren Ockert: Having my debut album recognized by the OutMusic Awards was an honor and definitely a great boost for my music career in the beginning. I opened the 2006 OutMusic Awards with my song “Out Of The Rain” with my full band and a choir. It was an awesome experience.
SDGLN: You come from a musical theater background, so do you have any plans to return to the stage? And how does this background impact your music today?
Darren Ockert: At the moment my focus is writing and performing my own music but I would be open to returning to the stage if the right role came along. I did three summer stock theatre seasons on Fire Island during my time in New York City and had a blast. I guess never say never unless we’re talking about octopus ink pasta, in which case I will NEVER order it again!
SDGLN: Do you have a big gay following, or a crossover audience?
Darren Ockert: I have a pretty big gay following, which is really cool. Those fans are very loyal and without them I don’t think I would have had the success I’ve had. I also have a big following of folks that just love electro pop music no matter what their background. That’s the great thing about music, it is pretty much universal and has no boundaries.
SDGLN: You are originally from Lincoln, England. You also spent time in New York City. Why did you relocate to Miami, Florida? Does that Latin vibe and hot international nightlife scene influence your music?
Darren Ockert: Miami is such a beautiful and sexy city and has amazing weather all year so I really I can’t think of any reason not to live here. It certainly is a huge contrast to my hometown in England where the days of warm sunshine are very few and far between. The thing that makes Miami so unique is it strong Latin influences and its crazy nightlife. I don’t think it has consciously influenced my music – maybe subconsciously!
SDGLN: Tell us about the documentary? Has it been finished? When does it hit the film festival circuit?
Darren Ockert: Director Hector M. Sanchez Jr. approached me last year about working together to make a mini-documentary about my music and me. We started filming last year and completed filming just before the New Year. The documentary will hit the film festival circuit in late February 2013.
SDGLN: What is happening in 2013 for Darren Ockert?
Darren Ockert: 2013 is going to be pretty crazy. I’m just wrapping up the new album Short Story Long which will be released in June with a new single from the album coming out in March. I’ll be touring later in the year and really looking forward to sharing the new music with my fans
SDGLN: We usually ask folks if they are single or taken. We hear you are taken? Who is your partner, what does he do, and do you have marriage plans?
Darren Ockert: You heard correctly. I have an incredible partner who is truly also my best friend. Marriage is definitely in the future once it becomes a choice for everyone and not just a privilege for some.
SDGLN: What’s playing on your MP3 player?
Darren Ockert: At the moment I’m listening to Ellie Goulding. I’m going to see her perform this week in Miami and think she has such an interesting voice and style of writing.
SDGLN: If you could have the ultimate dinner party and invite three guests (living or dead), who would be there and why?
Darren Ockert: That’s pretty easy. John Lennon, Steve Jobs and Freddy Mercury – does it matter that they are ALL dead?!
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.