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Now Hear This: Otracami | touching the stove coil

The singer-songwriter takes a visceral journey that traverses her teenage years.

Otracami leaves a mark on your emotions with her new album touching the stove coil — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Some memories burn a hot and brilliant red: Moments of great consequence kept alive in a dangerous glow that tempts our inevitable touch. Camila Ortiz of New York’s Otracami reaches for these moments in her upcoming full-length debut touching the stove coil, a visceral journey that traverses her teenage years with a keen eye. Within the record, Ortiz examines her past through the lens of her present, which at times feels uncannily close to where she stood nearly a decade earlier, driving around in cars, circling unhealthy relationships, grappling with selfhood.

Composed and recorded largely at home, touching the stove coil shines under Ortiz’s patient command. Each song is a textured story that comes to life with a gorgeous art-pop palette of guitar, piano, keys, and samples she recorded throughout her city. The arrangement leaves ample space for Ortiz’s clear-eyed lyrics, delivered so carefully we have no choice but to hang on every word as she carries us through flashes of her history: Early ventures into sexuality, spiritual pilgrimages to sinkholes, raw teenage emotions set against a backdrop of farm fields, marshes, and swamps. Though many of Ortiz’s memories are rooted in painful places, the record stands confident and self-assured, benefiting from the years of perspective that she has gained on the events.

Photo by Sai Tripathi.

“Over the course of writing, I often started in an angry or sad place,” Ortiz says of the process. “But by the end of each song, I was more able to let go, to return to the present.” Indeed, as potent the imagery is — a fork in the eye, a locked jaw, lovers in windshields, spit in coffee — Ortiz’s world within touching the stove coil seems almost peaceful. After being driven around by so many others, she has taken the wheel. “It felt like growing up in a way, writing and finishing this record.”

Ortiz first began writing songs in middle school, inspired by a wide array of musical influences, from the Latin-American music of her Argentinian parents, to the fierce lyricists like Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor. After cutting her teeth in her hometown of Davis, CA, she moved to New York, where she played in a variety of projects while pursuing her solo venture Otracami. Raised with a classical background, Ortiz was well-equipped to grow into the composer/producer role that she now inhabits, eagerly taking on the challenge of self-producing touching the stove coil.

“This record was the process of learning to produce. A lot happens in that process — rewriting, composition — which was really nice to get to do by myself, slowly, over time,” says Ortiz, who played nearly all the instruments on the album. She teamed up with drummer Jon Starks to record percussion at Jaybird Studios, and mixing engineer Lee Meadvin to complete the record. The result is a soundscape as intimate and personal as are the lyrics. On touching the stove coil, Ortiz has created a world that is wholly her own, one that we are fortunate to walk through.

Listen to touching the stove coil below, and follow Otracami on Instagram.


Photo by Morgan Askew.
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