Not Your Everyday Funky Drummer
Some producers never really gets the attention that they deserve. Let's change that, let them get the spotlight too. People like oskar ohlson should be talked about.
For those who haven’t heard about you, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself?
I´m a drummer/beatsmith/”producer” from Mainz, Germany, who calls himself oskar ohlson. I´ve been creating music, solo and in different bands/projects for quite a while now. Releasing it since 2007. I´m also member and co-founder of the knertz-collective.
How would you describe your music and could you briefly tell us about the music-making process?
As probably anybody who likes to experiment with music a little, I find it hard to describe my music. Also I like to switch styles for different projects or people I work with. So that doesn't make it any easier. But generally i´d say I make experimental “knertzy” pop music. If that makes any sense. Since I work with lots of rappers, something like weirdo-knertz-hop might work as well.... I don´t know. Generally I like my music to be playful and not too serious.
As for the music-making process, usually I start recording some ideas at home, those ideas get arranged into rough demos, if I like what I have I develop em further. Often I have my friends contribute to the music as well. that´s generally what can be said about my "music-making process." Basically, it´s very different from song to song/project to project.
Inspirations? Both in life and in music.
I´m not sure I reflect as much about inspirations in life, as I do about musical ones. And thinking about it I´m not sure I would make two separated groups of em. Yeah, but generally there´s a lot of music and artists I adore. I´ll give you a list and try to keep it short:
Robert Wyatt, Moondog, Kevin Ayers, Soft Machine, Gong, Syd Barrett, Albert Marcoeur, Aqsak Maboul, L´infonie, Picchio dal Pozzo, This Heat, Pere Ubu, Silver Apples, Captain Beefheart, Mothers of Invention, Faust, The Beatles, Van Dyke Parks, The Beach Boys, Joe Meek, Shel Silverstein, John Zorn, Sun Ra, Raymond Scott, Don Ellis, Tortoise, Fugazi, Four Hundred Years, Refused, Coalesce, Botch, EA80, Dackelblut, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Music Tapes, Olivia Tremor Control, Bablicon, Jeffrey Lewis, Daniel Johnston, Mount Eerie/Microphones, Björk, Mike Patton, obviously quite a lot of weirdo rap stuff, and also a lot of the music my friends are making.... this list keeps changing and growing. There´s just so much amazing stuff to discover.
As for non musical inspirations, I like people as diverse as Bukowski, Philip K. Dick or Alan Moore. Generally I´m really into comics, and could probably give you a list of comic creators and creations as long and diverse as the music list. But I will spare you....
Most people think of you as only being a producer, but as I gathered your first passion was being a drummer. Would you mind telling us a bit more about that?
I started playing drums when I was much younger, I don´t remember. 11 maybe? Not sure. As soon as I could hold a beat I started playing with friends. Back then we played punk/hardcore stuff, later more post rockish, and then more experimental stuff. The last two bands I played in (the latah movement and Droll Academy) both have an album on knertz. After those two disbanded, I focused mainly on my solo stuff and some projects (like Pumpernickle and The Unteleported Asteroid). However, I´m still the drummer when we do oskar ohlson live sets with a small band.
You’re also deeply involved in the community/label knertz. Could you perhaps share some of that history with us?
knertz was founded around 2006 by com.pare and me. We first met at a show of latah movement and his band fnessnej, and we connected immediately. knertz was started to conjoin all of our different projects with the projects of some like-minded friends. At first we were mainly Mainz/Darmstadt based, but after a while the collective grew rather naturally mainly through collaborations. We organize our self-releasing through knertz, and help each other out with booking shows and other stuff. Also, there´s a lot of collaboration between the members. Not only in musical things, but also on artwork, videos and so on. Both the collective, as well as the idea of what it can be, keep growing. The homepage gives an overview of what knertz is so far....
Since you work with a lot of vocalists, even on your own solo records, do you have a say in when it came to the lyrics and topics presented on the songs?
Again, that really depends. Usually I´d say that my contribution is the music, while the lyrics come from whoever performs them. Since I do the music first, I´m setting some kind of mood, but how that is interpreted by the vocalist is mostly out of my hand. On a very rare occasion, I get asked what I intended for the concept to be. On bigger projects (like the Pumpernickle stuff, and the releases with babelfishh) we talk a little about ideas, maybe conceptual ones, like the childhood theme in Pumpernickle. Except for that, I have little to nothing to do with the lyrics. Of course, I usually work with artists whose lyrics I really like.
You recently worked with David Ramos on La Tua Mancanza. How did that collaboration come about and what response have you got so far?
That all happened through David's brother Ceschi. I first met Ceschi when we supported him live with Pumpernickle. Later I sent him some beats, and some of those ended up in David's hands. One day I had an email from David telling me that I have two songs with him, and asking if I wanted to work on some more. Luckily I liked what he did, so I wanted to. In total we produced 8 songs together (2 of which will be exclusive to a 7” EP to be released probably shortly before the album on fake four). I´m really happy with the outcome and I´m looking forward to people´s reactions. I haven´t had too many reactions yet, but what I´m getting so far is only positive. The album in a whole is a very touching and personal record, and I´m happy to be a small part of it.
It’s been a while since we saw a solo release from you. What have you got in the works for the future?
Yeah, I´m always getting lost in the bigger projects and that way I don´t get enough material for my next “solo” album. I've wanted to make another one for quite a while now, and eventually there will be one… But right now the things I really have sunken my teeth into are the following:
For one- we´re slowly getting to the finish line for our next babelfishh and oskar ohlson release. It´s difficult to say when and what exactly right now, but we will release something new this year, and there also will be more touring with babelfishh this summer. Yay!
Then, we have a new project/live set for which winterismyname took over vocal duties. So far we´re playing those songs only live, but there will a be a record at some point. This new stuff is way less hip hoppy than anything else I have done as oskar ohlson. It´s quite refreshing. Reactions have been good so far. The shows we play this summer will have both babelfishh and winterismyname songs.
We´re also working on another new project with james reindeer and winterismyname. There will be an album sometime in the not too far future I hope, but it´s definitely too early to tell you much more. So far we´re still in the creative process, and collecting songs. But it's going great!
There´s lots of other plans... but it´s way too early to even mention them.
What are you up to when you’re not making music?
Listening to music, going to shows... Haha. And like I said earlier, I really enjoy comics and read those a lot. I handle the mail-order duties of knertz. I have a job. I like being lazy as well, and wish I had more time for that...
Being from Germany, what are your views on the music climate in your country?
I´m not really sure I have a certain view on the German music climate. It´s fun to think about the history of underground music in ones country or any country for that matter. Connecting the dots and stuff. But in the end, I guess Germany, just like every other country, has it´s few really interesting acts mixed under a lot of mediocre and bad ones. I wouldn't say that right now there's a particular strength to the German music scene, but I don´t hate it either. it´s a mixed bag….
The network side works well though! We meet a lot of very nice folks who organize shows, or are active in some other way. That´s great, and from what I´ve heard there´s many places where touring is much more difficult. Of course it could always be better, but for us things have been working out...
Any finishing words for the readers?
Mmm, I guess not.
That´s all, folks!