Interview: Royel Otis Open Up About Life Inside The Hypestorm & Their Korean BBQ Happy Place
Also, what's a prat?
Words by Harry Webber February 21, 2024

There’s even something nostalgic about Royel Otis’ ascension…

Their debut album Pratts & Pain echoes the bands of the early-2000s indie boom; guitars are front and centre, vocals feel raw, and the energy is impatient, like they’re in a rush to get to the chorus before the song’s even started. The tracks are short too and the melodies sink in without you even noticing, but you do notice. And many have.

Over the past couple of years, the duo which is made up or Royel Maddell and Otis Pavlovic, have become darlings of the streamer and magazine circuit, amassed millions of listeners, and been booked on just about every major festival on the planet. Their set at an under-attended Splendour saw the GW McLennan tent overflowing with young punters, many of whom will probably be citing Royel Otis as one of their influences when they form bands of their own.

The timing of everything just feels pretty right. Even their cover of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ for Like A Version perfectly aligned with the song’s resurgence thanks to the buzzy film Saltburn. And now, after three EPs, we have their debut album, the unrelenting Pratts & Pain, which will surely be equally as satisfying for the ears of their obsessive younger fans and those of us old enough to remember when Is This It dropped.

The duo are currently in the midst of a sold-out national tour and we’re only a few days away from seeing how the album performed in the ARIA charts. Who knows, maybe it get right up there. From our chat with them, we can confirm that it probs couldn’t happen to a nicer coupla blokes. Awwwwww. Read it below:

What’s a “pratt”? Why’s the LP called ’Pratts & Pain’?

Otis: A prat is like a British term for…
Royel:Like a moron.
O:It was named after a pub we spent a lot of time at when we were recording the album. It was called Pratts & Payne, like P-A-Y-N-E.
R: Yeah, I think it was two people’s last names, but we changed it to the P-A-I-N to make more sense for an album name. It was just around the corner from the studio so we would write the lyrics. And every night after the studio we’d go there for a pint and some trivia.

Your debut Euro tour last year completely sold out. Are you surprised with how quickly you’ve been getting that kind of response from other countries/continents?

R: Massively. Every single night was a surprise. I think we were being loved a little bit more over there, more than here even. Which was a huge surprise and I’m not too sure how that happened, but I’m not going to argue with it.

‘Murder On The Dance Floor’ has been huge for you. Is it weird having part of your success being contributed to a cover?

O: Yeah, it’s weird in the sense that it wasn’t really planned. It was very last minute. And then it came out three days later and then we’re like, what the hell? We weren’t expecting it, but we don’t hate it. It is what it is.
R: I think if anything, it’s gonna help our other music’s going to reach new audiences that it may not have before. I think that’s a positive thing. Whether or not people think it’s our best song or not is up to them. But I think it’s good that it’s reaching others.

Royel Otis getting hyped at the moment – people are talking about yas, ya know. How does it feel to be at the centre of that? Is it something you’re aware of?

R: I don’t think we’re that aware of it because we haven’t had a chance to slow down and understand anything… Every waking moment we’re having to do something… I’m not sure if our reality is what everyone else is seeing.

Can you keep going up? Do you ever feel like you’re in danger of burning out?

O: It’s weird. It comes in waves… But then you slow down for a couple of days and you’re like, fuck, you get back into it again. But I definitely think it is important at some stage to rest and just step away from it all. Because yeah, it can catch up to you.
R: I think you’ve got to just find your happy place. For me, it is just going to Korean BBQ. If I just go to Korean BBQ once, then I’m reset and good to go.

What sides of the music industry have been revealed to you that you might not have thought existed two years ago?

R: I think all the extra work that goes into it has been a surprise. I wanted to do music so I didn’t have to work, but it’s turned out to be quite a bit of work. I think that’s a surprise. And also as the team working with you grows, you realise how much work other people are doing and the effort that goes into it. It’s like even the parts where you think, “holy shit, I just cannot fucked be to do this” you just got to think but also the other members in your team have organised this and they’ve been working on that.

Your Spotify monthly listeners has been going up and up and up. Do you ever check in on it?

R: My dad does for me. He updates me most days.
O: I get updates a lot from dad and stuff like that as well.
R: And our team as well, everyone’s messaging us when there’s a milestone sort of thing.

You guys have released about three traditional albums worth of songs already. How do you decide what gets released and when it gets released?

R: It was pretty much as they were recorded I think.
O: For the album, we knew we had three weeks to record it, so we picked about three weeks worth of songs. I think it was like 15 songs and then we culled two, I think.

You’ve released so much music in a short space of time. Is it still special to release an album in this way?

R: It does… I think the celebration was finishing it. That feels better to me than when it gets released. I mean, it’s exciting I guess when it gets released, but it’s the reverse of booking a holiday. Once you’re on the flight then you’re so excited. But when you’re just buying tickets, you can’t wait to be excited for it, you know?

How are you going to celebrate if the album goes to number one?

O:Oh, shit. [laughs]
R: Jesus.
O: If it does…
R: We’ll probably have dinner. [laughs]
O: Play a show?
RAnd then, have to jump on a call, do some interviews. That will just increase the workload. I’m starting to think we should sabotage the whole thing to be honest. [laughs]

Editors Pick