Two sides of the same coin: Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff’s ambitious new record ‘Hemispheres’

The juxtaposition between Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff is stark. Otis is calm and reserved, the kind of cool you’d expect to match that silky voice. Dr. Dundiff is all energy, enthusiastically sharing stories about the best prank he ever pulled off and the general history of the J Dilla classic “Donuts,” both prefaced by schooling Otis in the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater. It’s that tension between the two that informs their music, aptly addressed on the forthcoming Hemispheres, their second album together. Before the record is released via a show at Headliners on Friday, March 17, we caught up with the duo to talk about the themes and production on Hemispheres.

LEO: Is there a central theme to the record, either lyrically or in terms of production? What are the hemispheres being referenced?

Dr. Dundiff: The whole kind of idea is that two halves make a whole. He brings the vocals and the lyrics, and I bring the music. The theme is kind of a worry-full vibe, and the second half resolves. Basically, there is a yin and yang to any situation.

Otis Junior: From my perspective, I feel like the most important theme is to have a positive and a negative. One half can’t exist without the other half.

How much acoustic or live instrumentation is employed? Is this more live band or electronics?

DD: I played 60 percent of it. Even the samples are completely mangled. I found videos of dudes playing scales on YouTube. Playing my own drums and guitar, and how I can pitch it 20 ways, that’s totally the goal — to have the listener guessing.

Altogether Hemispheres seems a little more energetic and lively than 1Moment2Another. Was that an intentional dynamic shift?

DD: It’s a different progression.

OJ: We touched on things that we didn’t touch on in the first one in terms of the style. The EP was pretty straight forward. It’s easy to catch whatever vibe it is.

DD: There are elements of hip-hop.

OJ: You can hear what our tastes of music are.

DD: Our next album, we’re going to mix the two. It’s worked for us. This has been nothing but a really tight process. We got hit up today in our message group from Jakarta [Records], and there is a publishing group out there trying to get our publishing rights.

What are your influences?

OJ: It’s just really super broad. We were talking earlier about how when I first started playing music, how I tried to figure out how I wanted to approach music.

DD: He was considering rapping. Throwing up bars. I know, I was, production-wise, really listening to Hiatus Kaiyote. A fresh take on soul music with different rhythmic presentation. Their whole first record is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.

When composing how, if at all, is the outside world reflected?

OJ: I think that any reaction I have to the outside world is very natural. It’s not very deliberate. I feel like it’s kind of rare when a song that I write is inspired by a specific event, but by ideas and general states of mind. If I respond to anything in the world, it would have to be in a very general sense — like, it would have to be in very distant terms.

What’s next?

DD: By the end of the year, we’ll be started on the next. I know that you can definitely expect from me — Touch [AC]’s full length coming out on vinyl, my instrumental album coming out this year, and the new Dundiff & Friends album. And maybe something from us. •