O'cean Hill comes from humble beginnings. Born in New York City and raised in the Bronx (down the street from future entertainment icon Jennifer Lopez) and Puerto Rico, his love for music awakened at the early age of four while watching television appearances by legendary performers like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. The power and the presence of these legendary entertainers heavily influenced the development of his musical trajectory. At the age of 12, O'cean started writing songs and by the time he was 15, he was already producing and arranging his own music.
While most artists get their start in small bars, coffee houses or clubs, O'cean's first professional gig was as the opening act for New Kids On The Block at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium outside Boston, Massachusetts. Before long, he was opening for major acts such as The Commodores, Will To Power and Brenda K. Starr. He also was included as a featured artist for the 2005 Latin Billboard Awards Showcase, and soon found himself hosting and producing the MTV International series Da'Klick, where he interviewed the top Latin singers and rappers.
With a decided turn towards ministry, Ocean's new music and high-energy live performances are filled with faith, culture and diversity. Hill has just released his debut single, "Now Is The Time."
Q: O'cean, thank you for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself: you grew up in both New York and Puerto Rico. What was life like while you were growing up?
A: Thank you for having me! I was born in New York and partly raised in the Bronx so it was very colorful and fast paced growing up there. I was always surrounded by different races and cultures and on the radio I listened to everything from Disco, R&B, Rock Roll, Pop, Rap and of course Salsa Music. Then when we moved to Puerto Rico it was a whole new world for me.
Life there was much more slow paced and relaxed, no one is ever in a rush lol! We pretty much ate what we planted in our back yard & our neighbors were like our family.
The Latin culture there is filled with beauty, peace and spirituality, it was amazing! So I guess you can say that I experienced the best of both worlds"
Q: How did you become interested in music?
A: I come from a musical family, my entire family on my mother's side either sings or plays a instrument or both, I've been singing and dancing since I was about 4 years old.
Q: You opened for many great secular acts even New Kids on the Block! How and when did you decide to record Christian music?
A: I've been listening to Christian music for about 15 years now, it's pretty much all I listen to. I love the way the songs make me feel and the way they take me out of a dark place when I'm feeling down. Then about 2 years ago, I was going through a really tough time in my personal life & that's when I decided to start writing my own Christian songs as a way of me surrendering to GOD and putting all my worries down and walk in faith.
My Hope is that My songs can lift people up when they are feeling down the same way certain christian songs lifted me up when I was down.
Q: You have developed your own sound, which you call "abstract swing." Tell us what is "abstract swing"?
A: Abstract swing is pretty much a montage of all the musical influences that I grew up with, it's a fusion of Salsa beats, African rhythms and Pop melodies topped off with a Hip Hop swing. Being born in New York City then moving to Puerto Rico at an early age I was influenced by so many different types of music & cultures and Abstract Swing is a direct result of that.
Q: You have a new single out. What is "Now is the Time" about?
A: "Now is the time" is a song about surrendering. It's about not trying to rely on our own strength but to rely on the strength of the one that created us! It's pretty much my personal testimony put to music. It starts off as a letter that I wrote to God & that's why the beginning of the song starts off by saying "Dear God, I need to talk to you cause you're the only one that knows the things I'm going through". So I wrote that verse in real time because I was going through some personal things exactly when I wrote it. The whole song took me a few months to finish because I wrote each verse according to what was happening in my life at the time. When you listen to it you can actually feel the emotional journey that I was on and how it progresses from the beginning of the song all the way to the end.
Q: Are you working on more new music? Give us a sneak peek at what's to come.
A: Yes, I'm finishing up my album which is called " Now is the time" just like the single, and it's filled with a lot of musical colors and vibes! Its a fusion of the past, present and future, I'm really excited on how it's coming out.
Q: I have read that you have a great passion to reach out to those who are not Christians and don't listen to Christian music, what's your plan in terms of reaching them?
A: By giving them secular sounding music but with a message, and filling the songs with true testimonies that they can connect to and see themselves in, and also to realize that being a Christian is cool!