Over the last several years Ava Douglas, aka othrwrld, is an energetic selector and producer forwarding a radical expression of trans futurtism behind the decks, in their own music, in the community, and for themself.
Ava's recent EP receive, return, repose released on Obskur Music out of Vancouver B.C. builds upon that vision, offering a pulsating meditation of the sort that drives you to a center via a rhythmic course. Whether taking that journey through your headphones by yourself at sunset, dancing in the woods off the grid, or in one of Portland's clubs, Ava and her new EP are fit to take you there.
Be sure to catch up with othrwrld for yourself via our conversation below, as well as at the release party for receive, return, repose at Rebel Rebel additionally featuring Cay Horiuchi, Lite Drama, Leeonn, Baby, and Papri Chaal.
Following a consistent catalog of releases over the last couple year, you recently released your receive, return, repose EP. Can you tell us about your evolution as a musician leading to this release, and how it expresses your vision?
My musical origins began about 10 years ago when I started an indie folk/pop duo with my best friend from high school & college. I played guitar, she played uke, we both sang and harmonized really well together, it was really cute and fun and I hold those memories very tenderly. Eventually I started experimenting with electronic production on my own, but I definitely always carried that singer/songwriter core with me in what I was making under various different side projects, often singing over the tracks I was making or structuring them as pop songs. The othrwrld singles leading up to this release are all my most refined results of these skills I was accumulating as both a producer and songwriter. They’re all really honest and vulnerable and I’m really proud of them. It’s only in the last 3 years or so as I was deepening my practice as a DJ that I started producing things with the intent for them to be solely instrumental, making stuff that I wanted to spin for myself or hear out in the rave. I think part of it was also finding myself in a place where I wanted to effectively communicate feelings without being so literal by actually speaking them, but instead using sound to stimulate senses, emotion, or create environments to transport people. Working with new intention was and is definitely it’s own process and has helped me grow a lot as a producer and learn new skills, though I still have a ton more I want to learn and explore, it’s exciting!
In the liner notes of receive, return, repose are referenced different spaces from which you drew influence for the EP. From the dancefloor to the deep-forest renegade, how have your relationship with space influenced your understanding of music?
I think space is a huge part of music, especially rave music, and I also think that rave music has a way of creating or evoking its own space as well. It’s true that I have the privilege of finding myself raving in so many strange and wonderful places; in fact I think many of those are some of the most precious memories I look fondly upon in my mind and heart. I think also that a huge part of those spaces is actually the feeling, like the embodiment of the space if that makes sense, what it feels like to actually be inside it, interact and move etc. In that way I would say my music is definitely inspired by or related to space, but more often it’s about a space of fantasy rather than reality. As I’m creating something new I’m often inspired and led by sonic textures which end up giving me this really clear picture in my mind of somewhere I can feel and be. For example, for track 3 on the ep I envision this huge, wide, yawning tunnel, it’s filled with thick whispy grey fog and there’s entities made of pure light gliding through and around the cavernous space, as I float through the feeling is mysterious and strange but peaceful and comforting, slow and meditative. Or track 2, I mean the title of that one is pretty literal, but again was more envisioned as like this utopian idea of what a rave would look like in a time when cities have fallen and we all live and rave in harmony with nature.
In an effort to positively affect spaces in the local community, a group of collaborators recently launched Night Service. After involving yourself as a volunteer and performer behind Night Service, including a well-received evening featuring yourself and Moss Wand, what needs do you see in the community?
I think Night Service represents a clear need in our community for events to not only say they care about harm reduction, or tape up a tiny poster that says “consent matters!” But like actually have a trained group of volunteers who are on duty and ready to hold space if safety concerns arise. That means not just like having narcan stashed somewhere at the party, but having a designated station with someone trained to administer it taking shifts and being on call if necessary, that means having people on the dance floor with easily identifiable lanyards who you can approach if something is making you uncomfortable, that means having snacks and electrolytes for safer and more comfortable raving. I genuinely think anyone throwing a larger event needs to have Nigh Service or something equivalent present at their events, it’s like, a requirement. And especially for larger events that are primarily straight/cis thrown/operated. If you want the queer community to feel safe, make sure you’re providing us clear ways to feel protected at your party. Also queer people are typically much more intentional about harm reduction and in my experience have been doing it longer, so it’s kinda like, get on our level ya know? I have to shout out my DJ crew uwu collective as well, because I think we’ve also been really intentional about these things since our start in 2020, making sure that we provide food and provisions for our party guests, trying to be mindful of people with sensory needs and doing things like diffusing harsh lights or including a separate chill room with downtempo music in order to include ravers seeking different experiences, and still requiring masks at our events in order to be inclusive of immunocompromised people who still deserve and need connection and community.
In a post regarding an event featuring you and Night Service collaborator Leeonn, reference was made to a conversation in which you discussed DJing as energy work. I'm curious if you can elaborate on this idea for us?
I absolutely view anything I do with music as a healing practice involving a very unique and intrinsic form of energy work. That conversation is actually how Leeonn & I met and became friends (at a rave in the middle of the woods). Outside of my music career I’m actually a newly licensed massage therapist, and really I view my work across both these disciplines as part of the same practice. I think ultimately my intentions relate back to what I was previously discussing about space; I want to create these vessels for people to exist inside and experience safety, introspection, connection, and healing. Transportation to other worlds where utopia is possible, activation of the parasympathetic nervous system that leads to a full body experience of wellness and transformation. I think by using sound, space, time, touch, and intention we can create the necessary conditions to move through trauma, to understand ourselves and our surroundings, and to ascend to the realms of possibility where liberation is ours to claim and hold. What that looks like in my practice as a musician & DJ has to do with utilizing negative space, texture and harmonics, buildup and release, wielding these as a tool to guide people through an experience, through a portal.
With that, describe the energy behind your mix.
The energy of this mix is definitely aligned with all of that. It’s funny cause I’ve recently realized through conversations with friends that some people first know me as a techno DJ, others first know me a downtempo / ambient DJ ( I’ve also been referred to as a “goddess of trance”) and the truth is that I’m all of those, but just feel very honored to occupy all of those realms comfortably and be able to weave them together for people in ways that reach and connect, or at least that’s my hope. This particular transmission definitely sits more on the quieter side of things, a lot of it feels to me like music for the afters, that tender realm past 2 am in the liminal zones of time. There’s definitely plenty of stirring tracks in there as well, but overall this mix feels like it’s focused on releasing, floating, grounding. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to share it across the airwaves!
For more from othrwrld, follow them: