Oskar Offermann Talks


Colloborations with Moomin and Edward, releases on Mule Musiq, the formation of labels; WHITE & Rimini and now the release of debut LP 'Do Pilots Still Dream of Flying', Oskar Offermann has steadily scaled the gradations of maturity since his beginnings in Frankfurt and his transference to dance music production from an earlier hip-hop adoration.

But, as illustrated by his new release and his thoughts here, there's an uncommonly broad framework that has informed his development, with a recent recognition of traditional songwriting within dance music structures, and a certitude in natural, subconscious expression. In our chat with him, Oskar alluded to his exposure to traditional lyricism (the 'oldies'), his thoughtless, creative 'utopia', innovation despite deep house tedium, along with how his album came together, his roots and his future plans.

Hi Oskar, firstly can you tell us a little bit about your background; your beginnings in Frankfurt, the inception of the labels you run and your present situation?

Well in Frankfurt, where I grew up, I went out clubbing for the first times in my life. The first nightclub I have been to, was the Dorian Gray. Then I got into HipHop, started producing beats and moved to Berlin in 2001 where I studied and worked for different labels. After some time I founded my own label called "WHITE" and later "Rimini". Around 2010 I started to DJ professionally and now my debut album is about to be released… 🙂

How do you think Frankfurt initially shaped your progression?

Frankfurt always had a big nightlife history. It is very interesting, because it is a fairly small metropole, with lot's of money floating in and in the end of the day everything seems to be connected to the nightlife.

While growing up, there weren't many musically boundaries in Frankfurt. It was all just "Dancemusic". Hip Hop, House, Disco, Techno… I think it was like that, because there were lot's of G.I.s from the US Army based at Frankfurt. So I grew up listening to American radio and as a teenager I got heavily into hiphop.

And, similarly with Berlin, what kind of impact do you think that has had on your music?

Basically I started to get into techno and house more and more. I went out quite often to clubs like the old Ostgut / Panoramabar, WMF, Casino etc… and of course I ended up producing more and more tracks with a four to the floor kickdrum.

With the new album, when were the ideas for it formulated, and what informed the direction these ideas went in? Were the songs something you had in mind for a long time?

Some of the songs where in my head for quite a while. I wanted to do an album since a few years, but I never had the patience, to do it. It's strange, you need a combination of the urge to express yourself and a certain kind of calmness.  You have to be patient but you need a limited timeframe. At least that's how it worked for me.

So I started working really concentrated in  April 2012, and finished everything around August. I think I produced roundabout 100 skits and finished 25 of them. Then I decided what made sense for me tracklisting wise. I wanted it to reflect my experience as a DJ, but I also wanted it to be gentle and song-orientated. So I ended up kicking all the tools from the final tracklisting, and styed with the songs. In the end there is still a house reference in each track.

For me it was always clear, that my albums should reflect the club life on the one hand but show a bigger musical frame on the other. I have been into songs all my life and when I play as a DJ it is  something I keep looking for.

How was the album made, production wise?

I use lot's of different gear. I am heavily into old digital reverbs and delays from the 80s and cheap drum machines like the Korg Electribes. I also used some analogue stuff, like the MFB 522, Roland Juno 2, Roland SH 32, MIcrokorg etc.. For sequencing I use Ableton.

The cover art’s pretty interesting, similar in style to Edward’s ‘Teupitz’, who did the artwork and why do you think you chose it?

The Artwork is done by Ben Roth and the picture was taken by Anna Paola Guerra. We chose this picture, because I like how it opens up a complete new interpretation of the title. I didn't wanted anything with clouds and flying, that seemed too obvious.

What was the process like of bringing it all together, did you find the transition from the EP releases/collaborative work you’ve done (most notably, with Moomin) difficult; did your approach differ?

No not at all. When you do a collaboration you decide together where the track should go. Which makes it a little easier sometimes. But in the end it takes more time to finish a track. But when I do music, I am in my own utopia. I just let my emotions go and try not to think too much.

‘I am a little bit bored with deep house right now’ – (Oskar, LWE Interview) What instilled this boredom specifically; was it the culture that goes with it or did you find the music itself stale? Do you still hold similar sentiments?

The problem is, the whole deephouse thing has gotten so big, that people try to recreate that feeling just by using the clichés, which is very boring in the end. Kids try to sound exactly like Kerri did in 93 or so… That is very stupid, music should always be innovative. So in the end the music does not develop further, which is very boring to me. I try to be more futuristic with my sound, even though I honestly don't have the feeling it always works. But at least I am trying to do something slightly different, something which hadn't been done before.

You also seem keen to stress a shift in recognising ‘traditional song-writing’, aside from deep-house tedium, what do you think heralded this? Any artists in particular that inspired you?

As I said earlier, I have been into songs all my life. At home I listen to the oldies radio station for instance. I love actually lot's of 70s stuff… Fleetwood, Bowie, Can, Eno, Floyd, Stones, etc… But also 60s & 50s stuff and of course I like lots of people who experimented with dance music and song writing as well:

I love Arthur Russell, who is my personal godfather of songwriting dance music. I also like Jamie Lidell a lot, Four-tet, Matthew Dear, Blood Orange, Sebastian Tellier… newer stuff like Washed Out, Zola Jesus, How To Dress Well, Dave Aju.

Your past is rooted in hip-hop, what would you say are the elements in the music you produce now that reveals these roots? Obviously, sampling, looping etc, but percussively, there seems to be something similar going on…

You think so? That's good. But it might be really subconscious, because I never try to think too much about my tracks, they just happen. Of course you should hear someones roots in their music, so I just take that as compliment. 😉

Considering your hip-hop past, and your continued predilection for sampling, we thought we’d ask you five of your favourite uses of a sample in terms of its treatment and respect for the original.

Ok the first one which come to my mind is DJ Shadows use of I Feel a New Shadow by Jeremy Storch for "Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt"

others include:

93 Til Infinity / Billy Cobham "Heather"

Company Flow "Infokill" / Queen "The Kiss"

Nas "Memory Lane" / Reuben Wilson "We're In Love"

Mobb Deep "Shook Ones Part 2" / Herbie Hancock "Jessica"

Jay-Z "Dead Presidents 2" / Lonnie Liston Smith "Garden Of Peace"

What’s happening with your labels currently, White and Rimini? It seems to be a relatively good time for labels like yourself; Smallville, Kann, Dial/Laid, Workshop…

There is a new Rimini, which just came out and there is a super nice WHITE 12inch, from Vtothed, which got stucked in the pipeline. But it will be out in December now for sure.

It honors me, that you put us up with all these labels, since they all are doing quality stuff. Most of them are good friends and it is very nice of course meeting them on the road.

What are your plans for the rest of 2012 and beyond?

There will be an album tour, where I will be djing, of course. And I want to try to bring the tracks of the album together in a different style. Almost like a live remix of some tunes.

Also I am busy doing some videos for the album now.

And then I'd like to go back into the studio and work on my sound more.

Tim Wilson