INTERVIEW WITH ROCKWAY.GR
First of all, please introduce yourselves to people that aren't familiar with your music.
We play Rock music that ignores genre-boundaries and incorporates unusual musical elements while still being catchy and memorable. It’s between Indie- and Progressive Rock or somewhere else and often features multi-layered harmony vocal parts and interlocking guitar and piano arrangements. The overall mood tends to lean towards melancholia.
What makes two musicians, two artists in general feel they can communicate and create something together worth working for?
As a band, you have to have a common musical vision to create something worthwhile. We’ve been making music together since we were teenagers and we’re very much on the same wavelength, sharing a lot of musical influences, because both our developments have been intertwined for so many years now. We we also lock-in extremely well when we’re playing or just jamming and we can communicate without many words. Sometimes it’s almost uncanny how we spontaneously play the same thing at the same time! It’s like musical telepathy.
How do you understand your evolution over the course of your three albums?
Through all our development there has been the pretty steady common goal to create songs that are musically challenging without being overly complicated or virtuosic for its own sake. On the first album this took a form which was very “Progressive Rock” and still fairly close to the sound of our influences like Pink Floyd, Genesis and Steven Wilson. On The Isle of Dogs you can hear that we found a more independent approach and something like our own musical “language”, if you will. Our sound became less “proggy” and the album is more song-oriented and maybe sonically more contemporary. You can clearly hear different and more diverse influences than on the first one, like The Beatles and Steely Dan. We also ignored genre and just did whatever we liked, so you have a song like Black Beacon Sound for example, with its bossa nova groove.
With About Time we continued on that path, you could say that the first five songs on the album are each in a different genre, but they all sound like Osta Love and we work really hard to form a coherent musical journey, so the changes between songs feel natural and not off-putting. We like that about records like Sgt. Pepper’s for example, where the artists didn’t care about any conventions and just let their creativity and imagination run wild.
The new also songs have more hooks and less obvious breaks. We simplified our songwriting and if we liked a simple chord-progression or a pretty melody, we went with it, where in the past we sometimes added something “weird” just to make it more interesting. Because of that the songs are shorter and more catchy, at least on the first half of the record.
The production of About Time was quite different in that we were working in a professional studio for the first time after having recorded our previous efforts more or less in a bedroom studio. We still did everything ourselves, from the first recording to the final mix, but the result is much more homogeneous and richer sounding.
You released the single "Sunset Point" almost two years ago. Was it something like a bridge between albums? Is there some kind of meaning or a symbolism about this song for your own journey in your career?
You can indeed say that it was something like a bridge between albums, because it was the first song we recorded at Paul-Lincke-Studio, where About Time was recorded and it was the first new song after The Isle of Dogs. Initially it was intended to be on the new album, but as we wrote more material, the record took another direction, and we felt that it didn’t fit in with the other songs anymore, although we still like it a lot.
I guess with your second question you’re hinting at the lyrics of the song (“we have to part, I need a new start…”) and the fact that it was very much a four-piece effort with our keyboarder at the time, Marcel Sollorz singing second lead vocals, who then left the band together with the bassist Oliver Nickel. But that the lyrics seem to fit with the band history is totally coincidental. In fact, we already started recording more songs with them before we felt like we would rather continue as a duo and they contributed parts to We Can Do It Again and Oscillating from About Time.
Can you give us a brief description about the mood and themes of the new album and your inspiration? How do you feel it stands during a very weird period for the whole world?
The main theme of About Time is the relentless passing of time, about remembering, regretting and nostalgia. Our songs are almost always slightly melancholic sounding. The lyrics and music are perhaps more introverted and intimate than on the previous albums, drawn from the subconscious and there are also more romantic themes than before. Because of that it’s hard to say how it fits in with the time or the state of the world. It’s about things that everyone knows and feels and that come with the human condition.
What do you think about the fact that musicians today are competing with numerous different releases and huge archives of music? Do you think that new state of technology transforms us slowly into a new type of listeners and probably a new type of musicians, too?
Of course we are very much aware that the importance of the album as an artform is declining with streaming and a more single-focused music market. But we feel that there’s still a place for a well thought out collection of songs and it’s still difficult to gain awareness with blogs and press, if you only release single songs.
A positive fact about the new music business is that you don’t need a label or producer to release your music to the world. We really enjoy working on our songs on our own and do everything ourselves, without being told by anyone what we should or shouldn’t do.
I think because of that we have a unique sound, it all comes from a single creative vision, from the first recording to the final mix.
We’re currently working on new material and without giving away to much, it’s influenced by the way most people listen to music today (i.e. streaming). So you’re right in saying that this relatively new type of music-listening is influencing our music-making, at least conceptually.
Can you name some influences that keep following you through the years?
Like we said Pink Floyd is one of the strongest influences on our music, perhaps because we started listening to their music back when we were impressionable teenagers. The same goes for The Beatles. One influence that might not be super obvious listening to our music, but that has also been on our minds for quite some time is Queen, who we really admire for their incredibly unique music, especially the first five albums. There are so many influences but some important ones are Steely Dan, Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree, Supertramp, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Yes, Tame Impala… the list goes on.
Do you plan to play the album live when it will be safe again? Do you have some live members for that?
Certainly! We wanted to play a release show for About Time, that would have been our first live gig after our retreat to the studio two years ago, but unfortunately it had to be cancelled for obvious reasons. We just today recorded a live version of We Can Do It Again with a keyboarder and a bassist, that will be available online very soon, and we’re very much looking forward to perform the new songs on stage with a live band as soon as possible.
What are your basic influences that inspire you generally in art, besides music?
Art can or perhaps should be inspiring and sometimes sets something in motion in the minds of other artists that leads to new art. That could be everything from painting to cinema, if it’s thought-provoking and interesting.
Tobi: I’m always on the lookout for lyrical inspiration and because I sing in English, I always watch movies in the original English and read a lot of books in English as well.
Is Berlin a suitable choice for someone who wants to stimulate his spirit in many different ways as it is always rumoured?
You can say that Berlin is stimulating in many ways, everyday there’s a ton of music you can see, be it the fancy night at the opera or the jazz jam in a smoky bar. And of course there are many musicians from all over the world, lot’s of studios to record and clubs to play in. But the constant stimulation can also be quite distracting when you have to stay focused on your own work. There’s always someone throwing a party or inviting you to go to a bar!
What is the boldest artistic dream you have today for your musical expression?
Having the opportunity to write for, record and perform with a symphony orchestra would be pretty awesome! And that our next record won’t take another five years!
If you could summarize Osta Love today into just one lyric line from the new album, which one would it be and why?
Although the lines have different meanings in the songs, “We can do it again” and “well...it’s about time” from the first and the last song, hint at the fact that it took us quite a long time to come up with another album, but that we’re back and feel we've recorded our best songs to date.