Q&A with Otto Botté , NYC—based Colombian producer, singer-songwriter, and sound engineer

1. Can you tell us about your new single, Dancing Company ft. Emma Claye, out May 28, and debut EP, Dancing Company Vol I. What is the song and EP about, and what was the inspiration behind that song and EP?

This song has freed me to express my unfiltered version to portray human connection’s beauty through flirtiness and sensuality. I see God reflected in our ability to connect with each other in community. My friend Emma was the one that brought in the idea of “moving myself to the sound, feeling you watching me now,” I thought that was brilliant and locked in perfectly with everything I was feeling and wanted to share; it was kismet.

There’s another line in the song that says, “I feel you watching me like if I got no clothes on.” I was on the dancefloor at my friend Stiz’s going away party. He was DJing that night at Make Believe in NYC, and I was by myself doing my thing, feeling watched by somebody else, desired, and vulnerable, yet comfortable in my skin. This thought immediately made me draw a parallel in my relationship with Jesus and how comfortable I can be when I feel naked or mess-up, when I dance or sing, just being my true self before God, knowing that he looks over and meets me no matter how lonely or fulfilled I may feel. It’s so refreshing to feel his presence in my life day in and day out, in and outside of music, on and off the dance floor.

The whole EP revolves around these very intimate experiences of God being at the center of my relationship with my partner, where the more we seek God individually, the closer we get to each other, it’s a triangle where God is on the top corner. We are each on the two opposing left and right corners, and as we push forward seeking more intimacy with God, we grow in intimacy with each other. My song Humbara taps deep into that. While En Vela, with my friend Nic Hanson acknowledges the need for space, growth in silence, being apart from that person to gain perspective, and value everything God has gifted us with in life. More importantly, learning to practice patience in the waiting when presented with the opportunity, we often ask God for virtues. Still, often His reply presents itself in opportunities where we can learn those virtues, so it’s ultimately up to us to sign up for class or not.

My friend Jacuzzi Jefferson made a few special treats for this record too. He added a beautiful extension and reinterpretation of the music that seals perfectly the mood for this record.

2. What role does spirituality play in your music and creative process?

Being in a relationship with God is the key to it all. Composing it and coming up with ideas feels like worshipping, and writing a genuine and relaxed message that can resonate in people from all walks of life feels like opening the door to a meaningful conversation between God, me, and them. The music is only one part, and it’s because of its complexity that the ideas in the music transcend. They turn into deep reflections, memories, and feelings. I’ve also realized that same power requests something back from me to be genuine, kind, and walk the talk.

3. How do you balance many projects while prioritizing spirituality?

Creating intentional and quality space for things I consider priorities in my life is what’s helped me stay grounded even when I feel overwhelmed. I think the key to balance is learning to say no, using your right to say no. Avoiding burnout is easier said than done, resting is always on my radar, but I still struggle pressing pause during my week. As a creative, I feel constantly pressured to create impact through everything I do. Healthy spirituality has taught me that before I can impact my surroundings, I need to first face my feelings and emotions without over-spiritualizing aspects in my life. In my experience, balance in my life has only been possible when I’m in tune with God. He has a way of making me feel whole and fulfilled. For me, words fall short of describing this experience.

4. Can you talk about any personal growth you experienced during COVID and making music while in quarantine?

I experienced loss in my own particular way during Covid. A big lesson I learned is that people will always react and take action based on the information they have (learned behavior, ideas, thoughts, trauma, feelings, and emotions). Quarantine was undoubtedly an emotionally difficult time for me. I learned what it felt to be truly sad, heartbroken, and utterly disappointed to the point of feeling betrayed. Going through that deep low helped me appreciate the goodness of life even more and how those hard times are blessings too. Growth is a blessing, and anything from sickness to health is part of it.

Before this experience, I thought I was just simply a happy person all of the time. Still, after having to stare at this pain for so long, I realized how alive I am and remembered how much God loves me as He has kept me warm, especially during the long days and nights of prayer. Looking for answers that only time can give you, for joyful beginnings and sorrowful endings that only God knows when we are ready to live through.

5. What advice would you have for aspiring musicians who are worried about making money in the music industry or have not yet made any significant money from their music?

Recognize first the work you are doing. Odds are you are already taking control of your present, doing things that directly positively impact your future. The simple fact that you are thinking about creating a source of income through your music tells me that you see the potential in your music. If your financial stability is something that adds pressure to your journey, I would suggest looking at it through a short, mid, and long perspective.

A full-time job outside of music can add short-term solutions that have a short span of fulfillment, while an odd part-time job can create a limited amount of stability week after week that still leaves room for exploration. A part-time job can free up a lot of mental space for you to have the energy to work on your craft while you market your music other ways and create revenue with the help of your fanbase, an additional source of income that can eliminate the burden a low income creates.

Long-term financial stability is left to investment initiatives, savings, and sound financial management, where music can certainly be an avenue if you run it as a business. Just remember that successful every business need investors (this can be yourself) to cover costs. Having a business plan to create revenue through your fanbase (mid-term goal), and profit from it making cash flow to stay afloat year-round.

Pace yourself, and don’t sabotage your plans. Solve one problem at a time, prioritize. If the problem is income, focus on that first so that you can be in the right state of mind to produce and create (art and business ideas for your music company). Don’t let the comfort of your salary define where you go next. I would even say don’t work more than you have to do odd jobs, work just enough to cover the basics, and see music as your end goal business and where you want to spend most of your time every week. Being a professional creative in the music industry means you will learn to enjoy spending most of your time dealing with the industry and only so much of your time with the music.

6. What are your plans for the rest of 2021?

As NYC opens back up, I want to get on stage with this project, play around a bit. I also plan to get back in the studio to focus on the next project that has all of the bones in place but needs a bit more love before it’s ready.