All Articles
All Articles
CULTURE

Interview: George Awwad of Odd Castles

A music nerd digging deep into the SoundCloud abyss and his creative expression from it

by Cajsa Carlson
on 28 August 2014
odd-castles-mixes-3.jpg

For anyone interested in emerging artists and musicians working outside the mainstream, the internet is a goldmine. While the underground music scenes of past generations required word-of-mouth knowledge, today we can all, in theory, find exactly what we want to listen to—anytime, anywhere. But it still takes serious dedication and passion to find those great, relatively unknown talents hiding deep within the web. Luckily, there are people with the skills (and ears) for filtering through to discover the artists of tomorrow and the artists of right now.

One of them is George Awwad, staff writer at music community Portals. When he started his Odd Castles site, its first incarnation was as an MP3 blog that lasted a little over two years. Today though, the Odd Castles site consists of excellent SoundCloud mixes selected by Awwad, featuring everything from lo-fi electronica to Korean hip-hop. Earlier this year, Awwad took the mixtape aesthetic one step further by creating actual cassette tapes of his mix “those who were once friends are now fam,” featuring artists including R.L. Kelly, Yohuna, Dead Boy and Foxes in Fiction. We caught up with him to talk about the ethos behind the blog and find out what Awwad’s favorite tracks are right now.

odd-castles-mixes-2.jpg
What’s the idea behind Odd Castles?

I've just always wanted to be able to own so much music on physical media myself, but I've also always wanted to find a special way to share some of my favorite tunes. Curating mixtapes made a lot of sense when bringing Odd Castles back and curating actual cassette compilations is basically a dream.

There are so many incredible artists and producers on your mixtapes. How do you find them and their music?

All the musicians and producers I find real late at night honestly give me life. There's just so much wonder scattered around the web and a lot of the times, the talented individuals I come across are simply sharing their tunes for fun, but don't necessarily realize how great their songs are. There's really nothing special about the way I look for new tunes.

…if you start somewhere where sincerity is present, you'll likely end up finding some music that you can truly connect with.

It all starts on Soundcloud and once I find a song I really like, I start digging into that musician's faves or I start listening to the stuff from the collective they've identified with. Sometimes I just go through faves to the point where I've ended up so far from Point A and the music could be completely different, but equally incredible. Doing this, you end up listening to so many different songs you could never imagine listening to anywhere else and of course not all of it is amazing, but if you start somewhere where sincerity is present, you'll likely end up finding some music that you can truly connect with.

Some of the artists whose music you share aren't signed and are releasing their own stuff—do you want OC to eventually turn into its own label?

I'd love to become a more focused label. That's easily the dream, but I know it's a process and all the talented artists I've shared on mixtapes are definitely being kept in mind going forward. I have a lot of tentative plans for releases in the future, but right now I'm only focusing on a few while I have the time that I do.

odd-castles-friends-fam-mix.jpg
Why did you decide to send out the friends/fam mixtape as an actual cassette, and do you think you'll do that again?

Cassettes are cool. I started collecting them four years ago and almost all of them are tapes that were released in this decade, which is an incredible thought because tapes were never about being the superior format for music. They're really not very convenient, but I think they exist as a heartwarming way to show support towards so many DIY musicians out there and some of those same artists don't ever get the opportunity to have their songs on vinyl, so tapes are a cool middle-ground and their unique packaging makes them a lot of fun to own. I knew it would be cool to try and get creative by doing a tape release with the fam mixtape. I'm definitely going to do that again, but I'll also still be posting digital mixes.

Can you give us three of your favorite new tracks at the moment?

Let's see. One of them is definitely Tomggg's "LovelySummer" remix and I've been listening to the Drake remix of “Tuesday” a lot. The last song might have to be the new Secret Songs release, “Keep U Warm” by Lucas. Three is a tough number to narrow everything down to; that’s why I like to make mixes!

Images courtesy of George Awwad

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard
Loading More...