Far from the norm, but never far from a madding crowd, except when he's out at sea, surfing, or locked down in a studio, feeding his taste for modular synths ‘n' electronic beats, Karl Frampton ain't your usual DJ. Armed to the teeth with talent, he's not only one third of DJ/production collective Off The Cuff (OTC), but also leader of leftfield group Octopus 8, whose music has featured in the movie Post Codes and a GoPro TV ad. He's furthermore co-founder of the illustrious dance parties Dusted and half owner of OTC label, Sidetrak Records, not to mention the OTC secret Lost party host. As a producer, he's worked with master blaster of The Hempolics and sometime engineer of Faithless, Grippa, while as a DJ he's spun alongside the likes of Steve Lawler, Dirty South and Spirit Catcher, played at Pacha Ibiza, and headlined Janga events and a 2,000+ strong festival in Portugal. Yes, currently producing/scoring his own surf movie, the UK's Karl Frampton is light years away from your ‘average' DJ.
Longtime mates, OTC (Karl, Andrew Martin and Simon Lilleker), were all born and raised in North East England and have been submerged in music most of their lives. With Karl playing guitar from an early age, Andrew drums and Simon keyboards, it was obvious when they united in 1991/92 that the trio was set to make waves. Gifted digital media graduate Andy is a visionary of film, flash 3D and cartoon creations, and mad science/computer professor Simon is endowed with world-class DJing skills. Meanwhile, Karl's DJing breathed life into the early 90s Dusted events, which used to pack out The Purple Onion (now called Medicine Bar) and became the longest-running club nights in Middlesbrough during that era. In the beginning, OTC drew inspiration from myriad sources, including Malcolm McLaren, the b-boy movement, jazz genius Herbie Hancock, and funky dreds Aleem, before honing their own style, using Commodore 64 computers and Akai samplers. Along the way, the guys grew in stature - and studio gear - and in 2005 their single ‘Shake' hit #1 on Traxsource.com's house chart, via Soulfuric Trax. OTC proceeded to ‘Shake' it across other labels, too, as their track was licensed to various compilations: Jazzy Vibes, on sister label Soulfuric Recordings; Defected/In The House Records' Wax Wars, mixed by Simon Dunmore, Brain Tappert and Jamie Lewis; and Hemmesphere Four, blended by Andy Caldwell, on Jam Recordings. OTC's 2006 funkathon ‘Keep On Turnin'' then blew up on Silocasa Records and featured on several albums in the Open Bar Music series (Open Bar New York 2 Ibiza, Open Bar Dubai and Open Bar Miami) as well as on Pacha resident Matt Caseli's Penthouse Ibiza Vol.2 mix. In 2007 Karl, Andy and Simon decided to start their own label, to house their OTC output and that of other music freaks. It was named Sidetrak Records, through which the three amigos unleashed all sorts of sounds, from soulful cuts to tougher techy rollers. Their electro-jams included ‘This Moment', ‘Screaming Dub' and ‘Street Freak', while external input flagged up Karl G and Nelly, aka Kernal Pier. Garnering even greater momentum into 2009, OTC released the ethereal ‘Funksion' on Sunrise Music, and Karl and Andy delivered dub extravaganza ‘Vertikal Bounce' to US giant Open Bar. As masterminds behind the lesser-spotted secret beach parties Lost, OTC also continue to push out the boat to rival Ibiza's best, at least in terms of their underground vibe.
It was in 2008 that Karl began conducting his orchestra of eight: namely Andy (OTC), John McGough (Café del Mar), Stevie Bongo (Café Mambo), Sorbon Star, Cojack (Corey Jackson), Jadie, Paul Martin and guitarist Carlos Del Grapos. Subsequently known as Octopus 8, this hard-to-pigeonhole audio-visual crew's tentacles spread wide, as evidenced by their 2009 debut album, Arp Warmer, on Open Bar, which won critical acclaim across such magazines as Carve, Pitpilot, Music Tech and Soundz. What's more, while one of its tracks (‘Untitled') was utilised in a GoPro head-camera TV advert, another (‘Open Eyes') features in 2010 bodyboarding film Post Codes. Of course, besides being a DJ/producer and label owner, Karl is also a semi-pro surfer, supported by Pistache clothing, Skullcandy headphones, Janga Revolt and Surfing Europe. This means he traverses the globe in search of perfect waves, and, as a DJ, he headlined the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Search/ASP World Tour beach party in Peniche, Portugal, playing to 2000+ party people.
Next up for OTC is their tech-house gem ‘Relapse', distributed by Azucar. Meanwhile, Karl has been working closely with Grippa on a new Maxi Jazz vocal for Faithless that shows huge potential, and also in the making is the second Octopus 8 album, featuring DJ Viper and acoustic trio El Nino. All this and a downtempo salsa remix of rising US rapper Dominique Larue's track ‘I'm Classic', plus a boatload of new gear to be shipped out on Sidetrak, accompanied by remixes from Grippa, Adam Shaw (Toolroom Records), Denney (Back to Basics) and Bonar Bradbury (20/20 Vision/PBR Streetgang), among others. Yes. OTC: DJs, producers, label owners, analogue junkies - and then some!