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Introducing Royel Otis

Introducing Royel Otis

Royel Maddell and Otis Pavlovic didn’t mean to start a band. “We didn’t really have a plan, but it just felt right,” Pavlovic said. “We started off just having fun.”

The two best friends, known as indie pop duo Royel Otis, began remixing songs and messing around on guitars and vocals in their homes back in 2020. Both Maddell and Pavlovic had dabbled in music on their own, although neither had taken it seriously as a career.

Pavlovic’s father played guitar, and growing up he wanted to mimic him. He picked up a guitar as a kid and quickly developed a love for music. Eventually, he stopped trying to learn others’ songs and started working on his own.

Maddell, on the other hand, was picking up a guitar for the first time for a very different reason.

“Well, I got in a lot of trouble at school,” Maddell admitted sheepishly. “I started seeing a school therapist who was also a music teacher, and through our sessions I just ended up playing music. It started as a way to occupy my mind and then became a bit of therapy. Sort of like a meditation.”

Despite living just one block away from each other, the two didn’t meet until they were both out of school. Maddell and Pavlovic met on a night out in Sydney.

It didn’t take long for the two to hit it off, bonding over their love of music, and eventually confiding in one another that they wanted to make their own music.

At first, they spent their time having fun while remixing old tracks they both enjoyed, sort of DIY-ing beloved songs. After a while, the Australian indie-pop duo stopped rehashing other people’s stuff and spent time developing their own sound. Soon, they began to write their own songs.

But just as they were offcially forming Royel Otis, Covid hit and Australia implemented an intense lockdown.

“Perfect timing, right?” Pavlovic joked.

The pandemic didn’t stop Royel Otis from making music, though. Despite the lockdown and restrictions, the duo found a way to create music from the safety of Maddell’s home studios. It didn’t take long for their music to get noticed.

In just two short years, Royel Otis has been named a band to watch by countless music publications, amassed over 10 million streams and been featured on numerous BBC Radio and Apple Music Radio stations.

The duo have also steadily released upbeat and energetic indie-pop EPs each year: Campus in 2021, Bar & Grill in 2022, and later this month, Sofa Kings. With each new album, the duo has honed their sound into something warm and bursting with infectious energy.

“We try not to take it too seriously,” Maddell said. “We just try not to overthink it, and now it just feels like we’re having a good time.”

The duo creates an environment where they give each other space to experiment, throw out all their wild ideas and learn from their mistakes.

“It can be kind of vulnerable,” Pavlovic said. “But we’re having fun. You’ve just got to agree to back each other.”

Maddell and Pavlovic each bring their own unique taste to their music, pulling from a wide variety of genres to create their songs — and they do have a wide variety. The duo each spoke of a ton of artists who have influenced them over the years: R&B artists like Frank Ocean and Rihanna; rock bands like The Cure, Joy Division and Velvet Underground; pop legends like Sinead O’Connor and Kylie Minogue.

It can be easy to assume that a mixture of those artists would sound like pure chaos. But Maddell and Pavlovic have an impressive ear for creating a sound that is fresh and exciting, with peppy and effcient melodies that draw listeners in and keep them hooked.

Take their single, “I Wanna Dance With You,” for example. The guitar-driven indie-pop song has fun with layered vocals and shimmering piano runs while encouraging listeners to gather the courage and get their significant other on the dance floor.

“Gather the courage to tell someone how you feel but muck it up like Frank Spencer on roller skates,” the band said of the single. “Put that image to the banjo scene from ‘Deliverance’ and you have yourself the recipe for ‘I Wanna Dance With You.’ Just play it all off as intentional and you’ll be alright.”

Or there’s their breakout hit, “Oysters In My Pocket,” which was a song the duo created as “a way of showing appreciation to the bivalve molluscs that put some boost in our juice.” On paper, the song seems like it won’t work. There’s no deep meaning or message behind the song. And yet, when it all comes together, the infectious beat and nonsensical lyrics are all a part of Royel Otis’ appeal.

“We’re making sure that we’re not overthinking stuff, which is a feeling that becomes infectious when we work with people,” Pavlovic said. “Some music can be so serious, or deep and meaningful, but with us, everyone is invited to the party.”

Speaking of parties, Pavlovic and Maddell are gearing up to bring the party on the road. Royel Otis will open up for alt-J on an Australian tour, but the best friends shared they’re ready to travel the world playing music anywhere and everywhere. Even if that means packing everything up in a car and driving across continents, Maddell joked.

“There’s so many places we want to go to, and cool venues we want to play at,” Maddell said. “I hope we’ll get to travel soon, but it will just take some time.”

But for now, they are focusing on making more music and exploring their future careers together — and having plenty of fun along the way.

“We’ve made sure that we’ve got no back-up plan beyond making music,” Maddell said. “I trust Otis on such a deep level. With him, everything is just so easy.”

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