Opalyte Opens Up About Career, Creativity & Colorado [Interview]
Colorado is home to an immense variety of musical talent. From psychedelic funk to experimental bass, CO’s Front Range has it all, especially when it comes to EDM. While New York and L.A. have long been the traditional music hubs in the United States, Denver has become one of the top cities in the country for electronic music. 24 year-old Niko Pappas—better known by his stage name Opalyte—is one of the talented new electronic acts not only based, but born-and-raised in Colorado.
Opalyte has thrived on crafting epic dubstep tunes, but brings more to the table than your average bass artist. Along with sharing what to expect from him in 2021, Opalyte caught up with MP3 MAG to discuss the project’s origins, as well as his inspirations as a producer.
Opalyte began creating music when he was just seven-years-old. Growing up in the beautiful mountain town of Aspen, he was drawn to the beauty and grace of the first instrument he learned to play, the guitar. Even today, Pappas includes the guitar in his electronic works, like his track, “A Perfect World in Our Heads”, which offers 100% original guitar melodies.
As he got older, Pappas moved to Denver, where he was first exposed to the underground music scene. While the surrounding electronic scene inspired him, Opaylte sought after creating music that wasn’t just ‘bangers.’ Instead, he began focusing on ways to capture the emotion and instrumentality within the electronic music vein. During this time, Pappas began attending Naropa, a nearby liberal arts college, where he studied music theory, ethnomusicology and recording arts.
“Naropa changed my entire outlook on music and life in such a big way,” said Pappas, who logged on a Zoom with MP3 in early April. “Part of my time at Naropa included studying music from other cultures and countries from around the world. These practices not only helped forge a positive outlook on my music, but also on many aspects of my life that were blocking my creative flow.”
This would further his creativity and understanding of the scene itself and in 2017, he began the Opalyte project with aspirations to create a fluid, stylish mix of early generation bass music and a vast emotional ethos. The name Opalyte was picked by Pappas himself after doing some research into the spiritual aspects of an opal. The dreamy gemstone, found in various places all around the world, had one definition that stood out:
“Opal is a stone of optimism, enthusiasm, creativity, and the release of inhibitions which inspire love and passion.”
Through a variety of genres and beats, Opalyte’s music exemplifies the optimistic and creative traits of this stone. He is never afraid to try something new, and his optimism and enthusiasm find a way of shining through his music.
“Opalyte has meant many things for me since I started making music under the alias,” said Pappas. “One thing has always been current for me though, even before I began making electronic music: I wanted to make music the exemplified love, excitement and compassion.”
Since his first Soundcloud single, “Plot Twist,” Opalyte has garnered attention through various releases and shows. Opalyte has performed with marquee names in the scene, including Toadface, Calvin Hobbes, Megan Hamilton, and Smoakland, who he recently supported in Chicago in early April. He’s previously charted releases with The Untz, and has become a regular with Mersiv’s MorFlo Records, with whom he continues to build alongside.
“The Morflo community has been a huge part of my life over the past several years,” said Pappas. “Mersiv has so much knowledge and compassion to share with whoever is around him and I feel very blessed to know him and the whole MorFlo family. They continue to inspire me to dig deep and keep creating everyday.”
On April 16, Opalyte dropped his latest track, “Supercritical,” which features belting vocals and interstellar basslines. This latest offering is characteristic of his past catalogue, a body of music that finds inspiration from acts like Zeds Dead and Nero; groundbreaking sonic creators not bound by genre, but intent on offering divine narratives through sound for listeners.
Despite his success in this dubstep-based style, the producer continues to evolve and experiment with production. He’s recently been toying around with higher BPM ranges, producing more house-y tracks that speak to a larger, perhaps more mainstream audience. Despite the genre, Opalyte’s successes have helped him create a sound unique to him, even amidst the rampant diversity in his home of Colorado.
“The Opalyte sound has definitely been a development that has led me in many different directions, but I think the things that stand out the most are my approaches to sound design, melody structures and instrumentation,” said Pappas. “A big for me in the past year [has been] incorporating live instruments like guitar and keys on tracks in order to expand the sound pallet a little bit and add a live quality to the music.”
While he continues to flush out new styles, Opalyte is content and finds enjoyment creating regardless of the genre. Following the release and success of this latest single, he plans on following up with a brand new EP in the coming weeks. Titled Focus Automata, the extended release is set to offer further exploration of a ‘futuristic’ theme.
While the outlook for summer festivals is still a fresh notion, Opalyte is back on the road next week when he performs alongside Mersiv at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, CO. Tickets can be purchased here.