So what does Otto really know? Yeah, that’s an easy pun to make, but Mr Jettman definitely knows how to produce creative and groundbreaking music. “Million Voices” sounded like nothing that came before it and captured the world’s attention, even before Selena Gomez shook her hair to it in a shampoo commercial. On each successive single, Otto Knows has explored his musicality, mixing live instruments with the electronic sounds that we love to dance to. We caught up with him in Miami and finally got the answer to how Britney Spears' “Work Bitch” really came about.
RS: What does Otto know today?
Otto Knows: Today I know that it is a really good day in Miami, the sun is out! I went to the Pete Tong pool party yesterday and there was a really good vibe there.
RS: How did the name come up?
Otto Knows: I was supposed to release music but I didn’t really have a name. A friend and I were out in Stockholm and there was a Swedish techno DJ named Oscar Can and I decided to be the one who “knows.” It was fun in the beginning but now that I have stuck with the name for 9 years it is almost in my passport.
RS: Before “Dying For You” had you ever recorded with a violin?
Otto Knows: Yes, for my last song “Next To Me” I also recorded with a violin. It is a sound that I really like and it is special to have real instruments, especially with vinyls and so I decided to record it live this time again.
RS: It really does sound incredible, are you going to do more with classical instrumentation?
Otto Knows: Yeah, I love to combine the acoustic world with electronic music, so definitely.
RS: Have you ever done a live performance with Lindsey playing the violin?
Otto Knows: I did a live performance when I played piano and we had a full band. I played a song on Swedish television with Alex, but we are still waiting for a performance with Lindsey.
RS: That would be cool. Did you ever actually see the Pantene commercial?
Otto Knows: The one with Selena Gomez. Yes, I saw it on YouTube but I haven’t turned on the tv and watched it.
RS: Is there any chance that you will do a track with Selena Gomez?
Otto Knows: You never know, but not in the near future.
RS: This is probably the most annoying question but when you did “Million Voices” did you ever think that it would become so big?
Otto Knows: When you make a song especially at the early stage of your career you never know that. All my friends and management and the people around me liked the song and I felt that it was something special. It’s so hard to tell, it can blow up or people don’t even care about it.
RS: This question is for Brenden the GM of Roscoe’s the club I play at in Chicago. He is the biggest Britney Spears fan in the world. On “Work Bitch” what did you do, what did Anthony do, what did will.i.am do, and what did Ingrosso do?
Otto Knows: Ingrosso is my manager. That song was supposed to be for me which was the instrumental version. I sent it to him and he had it on his computer when he met up with will.i.am who said that he was going to make the next Britney Spears album. Ingrosso played him some songs and will.i.am really liked that song. He said to give him the track and let him write on it and that he would possibly come back. He called us a couple of months later and said that it was going to be Britney Spear’s new single if we were up for it. I didn’t see that one coming and I didn’t have any plans for the song myself so it was meant to be.
RS: What was your reaction when you got that call?
Otto Knows: I was very surprised obviously, I have watched Britney since I was a kid and she is a huge star. To make a Britney Spears song was such a fun thing and I was so happy that they picked my song.
RS: It really doesn’t surprise me though because she got her start work with Max Martin, one of your Swedish compatriots.
Otto Knows: Yes that’s right. Sweden is such a small country so I know all of the Swedish producers that worked with her before, like the guys that made “Toxic” and “Oops I Did It Again.” It was fun to have another Swedish person write another Britney Spears song.
RS: My favorite remix of yours is Don Diablo’s “Starlight,” that is amazing! When you did that record what was in your mind when you took that line and redid it?
Otto Knows: It was released on Axwell’s label and I know him pretty well. He told me that he thought that I could make a pretty awesome version of the song. I heard the vocal and I loved it, it is so catchy and I just did my thing. I still play it in my shows and I really like the song, I am happy with the result.
RS: Heads up, we are about to get a little goofy. Why did you change your last name? With how much you fly, Jetman is perfect!
Otto Knows: Yeah it is actually! It is so funny because when I check in on flights they look at me like I am not really Jetman and I am like “yeah just give me my fucking boarding pass.”
RS: How are you related to AronChupa?
Otto Knows: He is a really good friend of mine, I met him just a year ago but we really clicked. We have so much fun together and we both play the guitar so we make really weird music together. We haven’t released anything yet but he is the funnest dude on earth, I love him.
RS: When you are at Starbucks what is the drink that you order?
Otto Knows: Iced Coffee
RS: Why do they write Ronaldo on the cup?
Otto Knows: I was in Brazil and they have a hard time pronouncing Otto so I just picked a name that I was sure they would know.
RS: As the vehement fan of mangos that you are, what is your favorite way to eat or drink them?
Otto Knows: I just like them when I have them in my hand and I can slice it myself, especially when I am in a tropical country. Australia has amazing mangos and so does Indonesia as well.
RS: When they make the movie of your life, what actor is gong to play you?
Otto Knows: I don’t know, I think that it would be really fun if Ansel Elgort did. He is a DJ as well and he has made several movies and is an up and coming star.
RS: What is the strangest question that you have ever been asked in an interview?
Otto Knows: I don’t know about the strangest one but this is the question that I get the most- “why are there so many Swedish producers and why are so many people from Sweden so successful?” An annoying and hard question to answer is when people ask about my private life, it can be tricky sometimes when you don’t know yourself!
RS: That’s a great way of handling it, just say that you don’t know yourself and for them to tell you! What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Otto Knows: I am just happy to be able to do this and I am glad that people listen to my songs and come to my shows. I hope that I can continue to do what I love and I hope that I get to see all of the people that want to see me.
Interview conducted March 2016 during Winter Music Conference.