“Off My Mind,” the new EP by Upstate musician Rögg Collins, is a bit of a throwback. It’s five songs of upbeat electronic dance music, tunes that you can imagine hearing at a club in the early 2000s or pumping in the background at a hip coffee house. Collins avoids the glass-shattering beats and jagged synths one often finds in modern electronic music, concentrating instead on pulsing rhythms and catchy melodies. If it’s possible for dance music to be low-key, that’s what’s happening on “Off My Mind.”
And that’s exactly how Collins planned it.
“I was listening to a lot of old-school house music,” Collins says. “So these songs have more of that warm, lo-fi kind of sound instead of a lot of electronic sounds. Obviously, it’s electronic music, but I’m trying to incorporate that kind of organic sound into it. I wanted it to have energy and some kind of after-hours kind of vibe as well.”
The result is a collection of songs that are easy to enjoy but difficult to define.
“Energetic calmness, maybe?” Collins says with a laugh.
The roots of the EP lie in the title track, a song that Collins wrote earlier this year. The gentle melody, subtle beat and warm washes of synths lay the foundation for a simple, romantic sentiment delivered in a digitized, robot-like voice: “Can’t get you off of my mind.”
“That was the basis for the sound of the album,” Collins says, “and the rest of the songs followed that. It took about four months to record, and it was all recorded in my home studio.”
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when an electronic music album would’ve required high-tech, expensive equipment, stuff that Collins couldn’t afford. But he says that it’s easier now than ever for an independent musician to create great work at home.
“I’m so thankful for technology in that aspect,” he says. “Depending on your project, you can totally create world-class sounding stuff in your bedroom. You really just need a laptop, but with a few more things, like speakers and a keyboard, you’re pretty much set up to do whatever your brain can come up with.”
Collins says that the “Off My Mind” EP probably could’ve been a full-length album, but he wanted to go for quality over quantity.
“My goal at the beginning of the year was to try to release a song each month,” he says. “And I did that for the first five or six months, but it was just too much on my plate. I wanted these songs to be the best that I can possibly do it. I just wanted to make sure that I really focused in on this group of songs and tried not to extend myself too much.”
As much as Collins was inspired by late ‘90s and early 2000s techno music, the upbeat nature of the songs might come from a more personal place. In fact, he says that the song “Off My Mind,” isn’t about someone he lost, it’s about someone he found.
“It’s in reference to when I first started dating my now-fiancé,” he says. “I was trying to come up with a hook for the song, and I couldn’t get her off of my mind.”