Alternative Artist and Activist Liam McDonald Makes First Foray into Electronic Music as OPLIAM

Liam McDonald might be an established act in alternative rock, but that’s not stopping him from experimenting with other musical genres. The artist, whose stage name is OPLIAM, decided to include an electronic track on his 2022 LP, All Roads Are Good. Titled Many Ways, it’s his first crack at which he gave electronic music a shot.

“It’s an experimental track that records a psychedelic journey,” explains OPLIAM. “It’s about prioritizing life, living in the moment, and understanding that you have the right to exist in the now, away from the heartbreaks of the past, and have your reclaimed place in the world.”

As OPLIAM refers to it, this psychedelic therapeutic song has quickly grown to become one of his favorites on the record, up there with the title track. His instincts proved good, too, as he wasn’t the only one who found his work in this new terrain exciting.

“It’s a lot of people’s favorite, too, and I always find some magic in that,” he says. “I’m a rock musician, and then I try some crazy, left-field electronic stuff, and that becomes a song that catches many people.”

Even though he’s a rock musician, OPLIAM’s contact with music goes beyond just rock, just as his field of interest extends beyond being a musician. For example, he played shows with The Halluci Nation – formerly A Tribe Called Red – a big name in electronic music and, indeed, the most prominent act that combines modern beats with Indigenous singing and chants.

On other fronts, OPLIAM has been active in Indigenous struggles in the United States, often using his music and his platform as an artist to address the issues Indigenous people face today. Originally from Minnesota, he can say that he came up in the hotbed of Indigenous activism, and that has left a profound mark on his musical career, from the venues he played to the topics he wrote up.

Eventually, his status as an artist with a good grasp of injustices suffered by Indigenous people caught the attention of Penguin-Random House, who reached out to him with an offer to work on a book for them. The book, published in 2022, is titled Indigenous America by Liam McDonald, and it’s a part of a series of actual history books that challenge the established narratives about history by giving a different perspective on them.

Still, with all that work and opportunity that comes his way, OPLIAM is, first and foremost, a musician, a singer-songwriter. Whether he’s doing his regular thing solo, with a band, or trying out some new and exciting ideas, it’s pretty clear to him that music still has the thing that makes him the most excited.

“I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about music, you can sit and think this song is going to be the one that catches people, and this is going to be something else, and nine times out of ten, it’s completely not what you think it would be,” he says. “But that’s the beautiful part, the mystery of it all. That keeps you going.” Whether or not he sees more of these electronic tracks in the future is also left to the mystery. One thing’s for sure – his audience wouldn’t mind it.