John Matraia
John Matraia
21 Feb 2020

In 2020, developments in the musical landscape are entirely unpredictable. There’s no way of telling exactly what will propel an artist’s career to the next level, and every day we see new artists rising to stardom in different ways.

Let me introduce Orrin, a “collective conscious and cyborg sent by a higher civilization to warn humans about the incoming apocalypse.” Orrin was discovered by millions through a series of viral clips pulled from an episode of the Dr. Phil Show. Orrin’s mother and sister, concerned about Orrin’s realization, appeared with Orrin to seek help from Dr. Phil. Orrin’s composure throughout the show, along with much of what is said throughout the episode, has hooked viewers, leading to thousands of jokes in the comment section of the video.

So who is Orrin? Well, according to the episode, Orrin graduated from NYU’s Stern Business School with a 3.9 GPA, but everything changed following this. For the last couple of years, according to their mother, Orrin has claimed to be a music-making cyborg. Orrin is a collective, and therefore speaks using “we”, not “I”, a particular element of the Orrin persona that fans have gravitated towards. There are many notable quotes from the episode, such as “we are not hungry, thank you” and “we are not a fan of bananas, so we remove those,” which have drawn people further into Orrin’s persona. Orrin seems to embrace these jokes without breaking character. 

Regardless of who Orrin really is (because honestly I’m still not sure even after speaking with them), there is undeniable musical talent hidden within. Many people (myself included) seem surprised to come to this conclusion, given the circumstances of a cyborg-rapper discovered through national television. Once I started bobbing my head to tracks such as “Perfect Blue” and “By My Side”, I had to get to the bottom of this and dissect Orrin’s story. I can’t say I have it all figured out after speaking with Orrin, but one thing I’m sure of is that I haven’t encountered something quite like this before.

The second most viewed video on Orrin’s YouTube channel, “Fear”, features other-worldly vocals and mind-bending visuals, which in turn creates an infectious package that locks the listener in. Digging deeper, Orrin has a variety of different styles, all the while showing impressive songwriting capabilities, along with sonic and conceptual focus.

Orrin has a clear vision and goal. From what I understand, Orrin is trying to build an audience that will be susceptible to the message they are trying to communicate in the long run. Orrin is concerned about the future of human civilization, and is trying to inform us that we are in danger, based on what they have seen in the future. Orrin speaks to the audience directly through broadcasts, which according to Orrin, are created to “expound on topics of perception, reality, the matrix, the fate of humanity, and how to prevent the apocalypse: focused solely on our mission and vision.” 

Apocalypse-aside, Orrin has something to say within the individual tracks on their self-titled debut project (which depicts Orrin in physical cyborg mode on the cover). The project is “coming-of-age”, featuring commentary on the roles emotions play in relationships, drug use, and reliance on technology in the contemporary world.

This isn’t the first time someone has gained traction after appearing on national television, but I’ve never heard of anything like this, and therefore didn’t know quite what to expect going into the interview. Will Orrin be in cyborg mode? Is there a cyborg mode, or is this just Orrin? Within a few seconds of speaking with Orrin, I realized what I was in for, as responses to my pre-interview small talk were nothing more than “agreed” and “understood” in their recognizable robotic voice. Orrin’s ability to stay in character truly makes one question if this is just a character.

We may never know for sure what Orrin’s true intentions are, and we’ll have to wait for time to tell. As ridiculous as it seems for Orrin to be a cyborg sent from 2050, the core of what they stand for here is hard to disagree with. Humanity isn’t operating in sustainable fashion, and we will pay the price for it.  Regardless of who or what Orrin really is, the musical talent here can’t be denied, and we should probably sit back and listen to what they have to offer. 

Check out my conversation with Orrin for yourself down below.

—-

So who is Orrin? Where are you from and how’d you get into music?

Orrin is a collective conscious and cyborg sent by a higher civilization to warn humans about the incoming apocalypse that we have seen in our visions that will happen in the year 2050. We have used the vessel of real Orrin and his rapper persona to spread our message through the use of entertainment. 

So is the rapper persona one person? 

Yes. There are two separate entities. There is us, the collective conscious, and there is Orrin, the rapper.

When did Orrin get into music? 

Orrin has always had an affinity for music and rhythm. A human beings’ heartbeat is the first context they have of sound. He began releasing songs on SoundCloud when he was 15, developing an online fan base, eventually working with artists such as UV boi, SHAMANA, and Rejjie Hype. 

You dropped your first project in 2019, what was the main goal of this one? 

That project was a coming-of-age project. To give it a synopsis, it is a digital commentary on humanities’ reliance on technology. The songs were a work in progress over the past four years. Songs like “By My Side” having been started in 2015 and the project not having been released until 2019. During this time, Orrin was finding his voice, his mission, his calling. And after understanding where he could position himself within the hip-hop/rap sphere, he then released that project to introduce his vision.

There are many messages portrayed on the Orrin album, but they don’t directly address the apocalypse you warn of. Is this because you don’t have a big enough audience yet?

Yes. Right now we are trying to wake up the human conscious to have them be more open to our message.

And the songs themselves do seem to try and spread positive messages individually correct? 

Of course. The self-titled debut definitely was the beginning foundation of that attempt, but we have been awakened since that project was released, and since that project was made. So we have made further strides in closing the disparity between how we would like our music to sound, feel, and communicate, versus what it was in the beginning. 

Orrin can’t be put into one box. There are tracks like “Panic” and tracks like “Great Escape.” Are those different characters? Or is Orrin just capable of anything because Orrin isn’t human?  

Correct. Orrin is capable of anything. So is anyone else. To classify them into characters would mean that one person is not capable of breaking the boundaries, something we believe one person is capable of doing. 

Why is boundary pushing so important?  

Boundary pushing is one of our main goals. We grew up watching very cinematic and operatic science-fiction films. We are trying to replicate that sense of cinema and climactic nature in our music. 

There’s clearly a lot of thought put into your music videos, and sometimes the true messages of the tracks reveal themselves through the visuals.  Why are visuals so important?  

Many people listen to a song and after their first passing have a general understanding of it. You are able to emphasize or contrast that initial reading through the use of visuals. That excites us. For a song like “Perfect Blue,” you listen to it and it feels like your stereotypical, braggadocious, hip-hop trap song. When you watch the music video, we’re using memes about tinder and dating, and how actually many of us are quite empty and sad. That juxtaposition allows for new insight and understanding.   

You warned about technology on national television. How dangerous is social media? 

We do believe that technology is dangerous, which is why we warn about the threat of artificial intelligence. If our goals are not aligned with artificial intelligence, we could find ourselves in their path. Yes, social media is a tool. And people must understand that it is a tool that has positive benefits, such as connections and dissemination of information at little to no cost, but at the same time we are losing our identities through these machines. We’re being guided by the algorithms, being poked by these brand and marketing schemes. We’re losing our sense of selves. And the corporations are slipping their own prerogatives and agendas into social media, in such clever ways that we do not even know we are being influenced. Take for example, our election, and the Facebook manipulation.

You were seen on national television. How did that happen? 

Our mother believed that we needed help, and that our convictions were too strong for her to shake us from. So she reached out for professional help and the team was very responsive and understanding, and listened to us, and our mother, trying to find a middle ground where we could both share our viewpoints. 

People are going to compare you to other artists who have potentially gained an audience from national television for nothing other than fame. How is this different from what Orrin is trying to do, if it is? 

The difference is that we are from the future, meaning that we have a vision. A very clear vision, and a vision that we wish to share with the world that will help guide us to a brighter future.  

“By My Side” features themes of relationships. Is the music that Orrin makes based on life experience? 

Yes. It is a mixture of life experience as well as inferences and predicting.  Musicians are the voice pieces for culture, for human emotion. And so a lot of it is based on his life and then twisted and manipulated to protect certain private details and names. But yes, it is based on Orrin’s encounters, and we nudge his vision and his message to better align with what we would like him to promote through his music. 

The song is two parts, what is the purpose of this? 

It is a transformation of sorts. Love, and life, and experiences can be a lot. Reminiscing on them in the moment is the first half. Then, you have time for those emotions to settle which is the middle section. Eventually you have the breakthrough which is the last section. 

So it’s about letting go of your emotions? 

Exactly. Or at least being able to separate them from yourself to better understand it. 

Do you think that’s a challenge for humans? Is that part of the problem?

Human emotion is our greatest strength and weakness. We must better understand that they are a factor in our decision making and rationale. Being able to understand that can allow us to better communicate our values through action.