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Morphing Culture Shock and Isolation into Sonic “Bliss” with OTR

A native Ohian, American producer OTR has generated significant buzz in the short time his music has existed.

Already creeping up on 10 million streams on Spotify alone, the twenty-five year old artist found his voice in a very unconventional way. In 2014 he was selected for an internship in Japan, and was unable to turn the opportunity down. However, with the move came culture shock and extreme isolation – being in a place where he could not read the signs or speak to the people. His next move was to purchase a MIDI keyboard, and turn his distress into sounds. Fresh off the release of his most recent single, “Bliss,” with vocalist Ashley Leone, OTR shares exclusively with C-Heads his story, and how his budding career came to be.

Words by Andy Gorel
Photos by Loli Laboureau


“Most importantly, with music on my mind all the time, boredom and isolation disappeared.”


“I left home and moved to a small town in rural Japan, completely unsure of what I got myself into. Since I did not speak the language or know much about the culture, I was met with a wave of culture shock and uncertainty.

My mind was persistently looking for things that seemed familiar. Considering I could not read Japanese, signs and landmarks became visual cues I could instinctively understand. After a few months the culture shock wore off, yet the feeling of isolation remained. Everything around me was now familiar but I knew I was still an outsider and needed to find a way to connect – also Netflix wasn’t available at the time in Japan so boredom conquered my free time.

While at a local electronics store I made a decision that changed my life, I bought a midi keyboard and downloaded Logic Pro on my laptop. I started to learn how to use the program while playing piano everyday. Most importantly, with music on my mind all the time, boredom and isolation disappeared. After another six months of living in Japan and becoming friends with my music, I headed back to Cincinnati. It was there where I started to record and release the music that was inspired by my adventure.”

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