Artist Interview: Opia

Check out the track “Falling” HERE

The past 24 hours have been quite the whirlwind for Cole Citrenbaum and Jacob Reske. They’ve risen from releasing their debut track, to cold-emailing a long list of music bloggers, to now fielding calls from managers and representatives from record labels, all only a few days after posting their beautiful production, “Falling”, to Soundcloud. Just yesterday, I stumbled across the track on my newsfeed and couldn’t stop my jaw from dropping. I began to stare off into space and became fully submerged into the sound that was flooding into my ears.

What immediately struck me about “Falling” was that it truly sounded like nothing I heard before. Try as I might, I realized that this track was embarking onto new sonic horizons. About 2 minutes into the track, I reached out to the dynamic duo to secure an interview. To be quite honest, my motivations for wanting the interview were slightly manic in nature. I simply had to understand where the inspiration for the song had come from. However, I never expected to hear such a heart-warming story.

Without further ado, here’s the interview I conducted with Yale Sophomore Cole Citrenbaum and Yale alumnus Jacob Reske.

Q: So, my first instinct when listening to the track was to try and place the sound. However, I quickly realized that this was in fact something I’d never heard before. Where exactly did the inspiration for the song come from?

Jacob: We actually challenge each other quite a bit. We actually have very different backgrounds in music.

Cole: In high school, I actually wasn’t going to go to college and wanted to pursue a pop career. However, some stuff fell through, and I decided to come to college. So, a lot of my background is actually in pop song-writing. I’ve also been playing guitar since I was really little. All the guitar in the track was actually me. However, Jacob comes at it from a completely different angle. He’s got a lot of experience from his days with a capella groups, making live synths out of people’s voices. He actually hadn’t even used an instrument on a track before making this song.

Jacob: So, I did all this stuff with my a capella group, A Squared, which landed us on The Sing-Off (season 5), and then I did a lot of song-writing with a capella groups over the summer. I had been writing non-stop for A Squared for three years, and then we were playing with the voice demos and Cole started playing a riff on his guitar and it clicked well.

Q: As I was listening to the song, I also got the sense that there was no wasted space at all. All the layers seemed trimmed down and were intentionally placed. How did you guys achieve that balance?

Jacob: We actually just kept stripping away layers of the track after the first demo. We stripped a lot out.

Cole: This project has gone through a lot of iterations. We went through a lot of layers, saying “Oh, this one’s dope” and “Oh, this one sucks”.

Jacob: We took the track down by about 80% and got a friend to help us get it down another 10%. A friend also said this about me a while back, that I work really well with other people who have a high level of musicianship. I think Cole definitely has that. I’d been working for so long with so little. I mean, I’m an O.K. singer, but you only have so much material to work with and sample. You learn how to conserve and prioritize with only 20 seconds of a sample.

Q: Wait, how did you guys actually meet?

Cole: We were actually working on the Spizzwinks a capella album together and ended up spending a lot of time together. We quickly realized that we had a lot of fun together.

Jacob: There was also one soul track that Cole sang lead for, and I realized that he had a great voice.

Cole: Then, over the summer, we were both in LA and hit each other up and just kind of decided to make a track together. I took the bus into K. Town to his apartment, and he had no furniture. Like no furniture. We tracked the entire recording in his kitchen floor and in my childhood bedroom.

Jacob: Yeah, I seriously had no furniture. It was basically just my inflatable mattress. And then we went to Cole’s bedroom in Ventura and were just really excited to have furniture to use while recording.


Kitchen Floor Recording Session

Q: What are your individual musical influences?

Jacob: I’ve definitely gone through a lot of different phases. In high school, I was into a lot of indie folk, like Fleetfoxes. I was also really into a capella in high school and came to Yale and felt burnt out. So, I started working with 1701 records in New Haven and that opened my mind to all the great artists here. I got to produce to people from all different genres. Right now, I’m very into song-writing than production. I listened exclusively to The Beach Boys this past Fall.

Cole: I also feel like whenever someone asks you this question, you always respond “Oh, Jai Paul.”

Jacob: Yo, you HAVE to scope Jai Paul. He’s a wizard.

Cole: I actually grew up with guitar, so I love listening to Carlos Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughn and other blues greats like BB King. I immersed myself into the world of guitar for a while. That’s still some of my favorite stuff to listen to. I’m also really into adult contemporary music. Counting Crows, Matchbox Twenty, those kind of vibes. I’d also say my current kick would be a little more similar to Jacob’s taste, but a bit more on the pop side. So, guys like Chet Faker and NAO.

Q: So, what’ve the past 24 hours been like for you guys?

Cole: So, on Friday at 2 pm, we posted the song on Soundcloud. Before that, we’d put together a huge list of all the music blogs we followed. So, we started emailing. The first email I sent, I got a response back from HillyDilly in 10 minutes saying “This is a really dope track. We’ll put it on our home page. This is amazing. I’m sending this to all the managers I know.”

Jacob: There really wasn’t any strategy. We’ve been shooting in the dark and it’s all really random. We asked the intern who responded to our email, “Why did you pick up our track?”. The guy was like, “Well, your email was really well written.” We really don’t have much strategy with this, we’ve kind of just been going with the flow.


There you have it… What started out for me as an obsession with a song has unfolded into something so much greater. In an era where musical gimmicks abound, it’s refreshing to find people who allow their love for music to spill over into creation. Only time will tell what is in store for Opia. But for Cole and Jacob, I fully believe that their friendship and love for music can carry them anywhere, even away from furniture-less apartments and cold kitchen floors.


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