Ocean Park Standoff
Photo: Kerry Henderson
Ocean Park Standoff Talk "Good News," Childish Gambino & More
If you're ever in need of some "Good News," you can always call on the pop trio Ocean Park Standoff. Comprising guitarist Samantha Ronson, drummer Pete Nappi and lead singer Ethan Thompson, the band made headlines with their 2016 hit "Good News."
Since their 2017 debut self-titled EP, Ocean Park Standoff released a collaboration with Seeb titled "Lost Boys" in February, followed by a new single in April, "If You Were Mine," featuring Lil Yachty. But what's in store next for the trio of multitalented musicians?
We caught up with the band to learn about making "If You Were Mine," their thoughts on blending genres, some of their musical inspirations, what we can expect to hear from them next, and more.
The first thing I wanted to ask you about is your latest single, which is really cool. "If You Were Mine." How did the song come together and how did Lil Yachty get brought into the fold?
Ronson: Unicorns and rainbows. The song is actually a song that I had started years ago that I unearthed in a bored afternoon just going through old music and I played it for Pete, and Pete liked it. At least, he said he did. And then we kind of messed around with it. We redid it. And then we played it for Ethan and he was like, "Awesome, let's do it." And then it was only the first half of the song and so then we finished it altogether. And then, I think as a placeholder for a bridge we had put …
Ronson: Quavo. And we put the "Congratulations" verse on it, and it fit so well. It was beautiful. And our guy was like, "Oh, why can't we just use this?" We're like, "Well, because it's Quavo. It's a huge record right now."
Thompson: It's a song that's Top 10 right now.
Ronson: It was kind of perfect because it got it in the collective conscious that there was going to be, hopefully, a collaborator, a rapper, on it. So, we kind of sent it out and we gave our wish list, and we were like pretty shocked that Yachty said yes. And then, not only did he say yes, but he did it. Because there's a long road between yes and actually getting the verse. So we're pretty stoked.
Going back in history a little bit. "Good News" was a huge hit when it came out. How did that change your dynamic as a band? How did it change the way you approach music, if at all?
Thompson: Well, that song actually kind of started our whole band. You know back in … 2016, maybe even late 2015, is when we wrote that song. It didn't really change how we approach what we do. The only thing it changed is that we actually felt like we were a band because we started off just writing songs together and hanging out 24/7. And then once that song got accepted into reality as a song that everyone was going to get behind and push for us, that was when we stepped into the shoes of, "Alright, we're going to go out, and we're going to tour and we're going to play live." And I think that's when we really fell in love with being on the road together and being in a band together.
I've read that you believe that the future of music is a lot of crossover between genres. Tell me a little bit more about that. How does that play out into your own creative process, and are there any artists that you look to for inspiration?
Nappi: I mean everyone pretty much likes everything at this point. If you go on the Top 40, it's a mix of everything, it's not just pop. So, I guess that pretty much shows you where the music is going. Like the No. 1 song is pretty much at this point Drake. So, that goes to show you just gotta make a good pop song and it doesn't matter really what the production is as long as it's catchy or whatever.
Ronson: I think streaming services gave way for an open format listening experience. I feel like, as a DJ forever, I always played everything from the Beatles to Biggie to Madonna to whatever it was. It used to be terrestrial radio was so formatted that this was pop, and pop was this, and urban was over here, and country was over here, and rock and alternative and dance and indie. Indie meant indie rock, I guess. [Now] indie can be hip-hop, it can be anything. We love so many different kinds of music that we're thankful that we get to infuse as much as we can from all our different influences into our music now and not really have to worry about, "Oh, well this is leaning too much in this direction or that direction." It's pretty cool when you look at the top records and you've got Jason Mraz to Drake to Sam Hunt to that song just keeps playing in the car. (laughter) I'm obsessed with it. We're just lucky that we get to make music in a time where people are pretty accepting of different styles from different types of people.
Thompson: Hip-hop is one of the main genres that started that whole idea of take this and take this and slam it together and see what you get. I mean obviously they've been doing it for years. That's how new genres have been invented, [how] blues turned into rock. And country fell off obviously old-time stuff. But we're definitely inspired by Chance [The Rapper]'s new record that he put out. All that stuff where it was gospel mixed with hip-hop mixed with his kind of light singing. Obviously Kendrick [Lamar] is doing a great job of slamming different things together, even in one song. And also the latest stuff that J. Cole put out, definitely has cool stuff. And "This Is America" I'm obsessed with because it's got two genres just straight-up slammed together and no one even bats an eye because it's done so well.
Ronson: I think there's a lot of room for people, for what people are saying is just as important as how they're saying it. So you have records like J. Cole who is crushing it more on content than bells and whistles. Childish Gambino, that song is massive because of what he's saying, and the visual that goes with it. And we're pretty lucky to get to be making music in this time.
So what's next? What can fans expect to hear from you soon or upcoming?
Thompson: We have tours coming up. We're going to be on the road. We're actually leaving in four or five days to do a two-week tour that's around just the Midwest. We're doing more on the road after that, and we got new music coming out. We already have our next single picked out. We're actually going to the studio right after this to fix a piano part in it, which we're really excited about. Just keep your ears and eyes peeled for new music and us on the road.