M64 (Ragen Fykes + Ohmega Watts)
A new musical galaxy is born.
On a planet populated with average artists, so-so producers and lackluster vocalists, it is as rare as witnessing a shooting star to stumble upon substantive musicians who are fearless, enigmatic and willing to tread into the nebular to uncover beats and rhymes as vivid and depth-defying as the Milky Way.
Ragen Fykes never, ever wears matching socks, - "I don't want them to match. I want them to go together. Like boyfriend and girlfriend. Don't match your socks. It's a new epidemic." – she can't go a week without baking rice krispy treats for her and her 4 year-old son Malik and she could tell you what the latest look-book from any European fashion house has to offer. But these are just side hobbies. Fykes began flirting with the art of song as a child and if asked, will entertain you with colorful adolescent stories of composing lyrics using words from a kid encyclopedia. After an attempt to tackle the industry through avenues in Los Angeles, Fykes made the realization that she needed time for reflection and experience. "I was trying to be more self-aware and honest with myself about the things I wanted and needed in my life" she explained. Fykes then took a break from the business and put her energy into being a new mother.
It wasn't until two years ago that the optimistically spirited artist with a richly toned vocal warble that is part Etta James, part Erykah Badu and part Ragen Fykes ("I think I'm Dolly Parton meets Kool Moe Dee", she exudes) decided to take another stab at singing. She started slowly, becoming backup for a local band. It was after a show one night with the band that she met Watts, whom she had admired from afar for his beats. Watts was taken with her performance and invited her to become an integral part of his upcoming solo project, Watts Happening. Shortly after releasing, Watts Happening, Campbell decided to turn his attention to what was, at the time, a still undefined, untitled project with Fykes. It began simply as a three-song EP but as Watts and Fykes worked together, they both quickly realized that not only were they becoming good friends, but that they often had parallel thought patterns for tracks, which made working together feel like a natural process. "There is no one better I could work with", says Fykes of her teammate Watts. "I truly believe that working with Ohmega is a match made in heaven. He's like my brother and he's not interested in other things besides making music and inspiring people."
As a talented triple threat emcee, producer and deejay, Brooklyn-born and raised Milton Campbell, better known as Ohmega Watts, has been doing just that – making music and inspiring people – for well over a decade now, first with his three-man army crew, Lightheaded (along with emcees Braille and Othello) and more recently as a producer and solo artist (The Find, Watts Happening). Next to Fykes, who considers herself a green thumb in the game of music wheelings and dealings, Watts is a well-marinated, seasoned veteran and over the years, his pitch-perfect ear for unique melodies and layered, harmonizing riffs, chirps, old soul and world beat samples has only improved. Now residing in the NW and signed to Ubiquity Records, he has been working extensively with Fykes during the making of their full LP, to be tentatively titled, The M64 Collabo. When asked where the name for the collaboration came from, Ragen's face lights up. "The M64 Collabo is when Ohmega and I link together and we make music. It stands for Messar 64. It's also known as the Black Eye galaxy." Messar 64 was created when two other galaxies collided in space, causing the smaller, inner galaxy to spin clockwise. The gases from this galaxy in turn, make the larger, outer galaxy rotate counter-clockwise. Fykes discovered Messar 64 while at work one day, researching, "things that were spacey." Watts liked the sound of the shortened version and the two of them agreed that the name represented their creative collaborative efforts. Fykes explains, "We're two different people and although we rotate in two different ways, we are still unified as one. I call Ohmega the inner galaxy because the gases, or rather, the energy that he gives off helps me rotate and better understand my own process."
With the LP almost complete and special guest appearances still trickling in (Pigeon John, Theory Hazit and Don Will from Tanya Morgan for starters), the M64 duo is anxious and ready to hustle once the project is released. Fykes is sweetly cognizant of the enormity of pursuing music. "I'm excited that I'm doing something that's so risky, but I'm doing it," she says. "There are people who go along in life and there are people who take risks. The excitement is in taking this risk. I feel like I'm living life right now for something that I want to live for and I'm happy."
Sara Moskovitz | saramoskovitz.com