In 2012, while still known as Ocean, they won a competition organized for the 20th anniversary of the Sziget festival in Budapest as representatives of Poland. After the concert in Hungary they started composing in English, changed their name to OCN, signed an international contract and began – hopefully – a career on a grander scale.
Ocean was formed in 2001 in Wrocław. Maciej Wasio, the leader of the group, was born in 1979 and currently does the vocals and guitar. Over the years, many different musicians have come and gone, leaving Wasio as the only remaining member from the original line-up. After recording several albums in 2007, the group went on hiatus. They returned in 2010 to create the album Four, which was nominated for a Frederic award. Piotr ’Quentin‘ Wojtanowski played bass, Bolek Wilczek played percussion and Michał Grymuza, who featured in albums by Róże Europy, Kayah and Kasia Kowalska, played guitar.
Despite Grymuza’s brand recognition, he soon left the band, while the other three musicians (Wasio says this is the best possible set-up) recorded the hardcore War of the Pigs, filled with broken rhythms. However, the group soon shifted to more delicate sounding music after signing a multi-year contract to produce songs in English. It all started with their song Waterfall.
How was their performance at Sziget, one of the most important European outdoor events? The group sent Waterfall as their single for entry into the competition. At the concert itself, they presented their new English material and subsequently, won. The vocalist and guitarist Maciej Wasio commented on recording songs in English:
Bubbling with energy after Budapest, we locked ourselves into The Rolling Tapes studio in Srebrna Góra and transferred our positive energy into the recording. The material was recorded by our trio without any editing or overdubs; thanks to the amazing analogue table and tape our songs will sound even more glued together than before.
In 2013 the group – thanks to the same song – began working together with Warner Music, which published Ocean’s first English album Waterfall. Vance Powell (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, Kings Of Leon, The Dead Weather) became the producer. It was then that the name was changed to OCN. Wasio says: “There are a few bands already called Ocean. Apart from distinguishing ourselves, we also want to function like the Polish Ocean, and not like the English Ołszyn”. After the spring debut of the album, the trio went on tour. They performed in the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg and at the National Stadium in Warsaw, opening for Beyoncé.
The album Waterfall is a classic rock affair, even less experimental than Ocean’s previous attempts. The group resigned from psychedelic rock, instead focusing on melody and catchiness. In addition to numbers that build a wall of sound (like Desire), pieces like Muddy Water show off their quieter side. Lost in Something is also rhythmically interesting, one can hear echoes of the grunge music of Alice in Chains. The chorus is typical of OCN: strong, melodic, and grand. Wasio says in one of his interviews:
“I know I would sing better if I stopped playing the guitar and I would play better if I stopped singing. However, we aren’t aiming for absolute precision. The fact that we play as a trio makes our music sound a bit different – there are only three people but there is so much music.”
In the spring of 2014, the group premiered the Polish version of its hit single Waterfall. Soon afterwards, their other popular single, Definition, recorded that summer with Jamal, appeared on RMF FM’s list of the “best music under the sun 2014”. The song is musically more similar to Jamal than to Chemia, with whom they have collaborated with, but clearly OCN’s romance with Pop music isn’t doing them any harm.
Author: Jacek Świąder, July 2014
See the band's official website, profile on Facebook and YouTube channel.
2001 – "3 EP"
2002 – "6 EP"
2002 – "12"
2004 – "Depressed Songs about Nothing"
2006 – "Impatience Gets You Less"
2009 – "Four"
2011 – "War of the Pigs"
2013 – "Waterfall"