Interview: Oliver Tank
Words by Richard Gifford - Published on September 11, 2012
Oliver Tank is a 22 year old electro musician who combines real instruments with computers to create heartfelt soundscapes so vivid they could only be dreamed of. Hailing from Sydney, but appealing to a worldwide audience his sound combines a love of hip-hop with ambient electronics, through his release of Dreams, in late 2011. Oliver is playing BIGSOUND Live on Thursday of this week and Brisbane Festival this Saturday from 7pm, so we caught up with him to shoot him a few questions.
What are you most looking forward to about BIGSOUND Live and Brisbane Festival?
I think I’m most looking forward to just partying heaps and seeing a lot of the acts, it’d be really cool to hang out with a lot of the artists there and just meet everyone. It’d be great to hang out with Flume, haven’t seen him for a while.
What can we expect from your Brisbane Festival performance?
It’s very live, there are no laptops or anything. I try to be as active as possible on stage. I really think people are going to dig it. I’m going to try and play a few new tracks as well so it’ll be a combination of new and old stuff, which I’m really happy with. Should be an energetic show.
When’s the next release planned? Is there a full LP on the horizon?
I was having a lot of trouble writing music at the start of the year and I wasn’t happy with any music I was making. I was finishing tracks and just listening to them thinking, I just don’t know if I like this music anymore. Very recently, I’ve started fresh, changed my direction and am really happy with the music I’m making now. I’m hoping to have a release out in November. I’m calling it a mix tape but more because when I write an EP or an album I like it to be a story like how Dreams was. Whilst this new mix tape is more like 4 or 5 new tracks from me and 5 tracks with some of my favourite artists around Sydney and Australia. There are a lot of collaborations on this new record, and yeah I think people are really gonna dig it.
Will the listeners notice a progression in sound on your new mixtape?
Yeah I think Dreams was really solid for what it was, but some of the tracks don’t resonate with me as much as they used to. But these new tracks have developed and I feel like I’ve really matured as an artist. Everything was a whirlwind when Dreams was going on, it was awesome, but I’ve just had to stay level headed about everything. It’s definitely going to show a development of the sound that I had on Dreams. It’ll still be that chilled out sort of vibe, but more fluid and the collaborations are sounding really great. I don’t want to give too much away just yet.
What’s the most abstract thing you’ve got musical inspiration from?
It’s not something I think about too much, but I had this idea the other day when I was sitting outside and the wind chimes were blowing away, and I sort of thought this would be cool to put some melody and rhythm to it, then the beat kicks in and stuff, I dunno it’s sort of something I’m working on at the moment, a sort of nature-inspired track.
Thoughts on skrillex?
Ah man, I don’t really spend too much time listening to that sort of stuff. I can appreciate that when everyone’s really fucked, drinking and doing drugs and that sort of stuff they feel like listening to it, that’s fine. But I dunno I don’t think anyone’s ever at home listening to that on their day off. He really took the whole dubstep thing to the extreme and really ruined it for a lot of people I think. Too many people think that’s what dubstep is and that’s not true at all.
Do you hate or embrace James Blake comparisons?
I don’t hate them, I mean, it’s a compliment but I think he’s on another level. I don’t think I’m there just yet. What I don’t like about it is that it sort of detracts a bit from what I do, inferring that I’m just trying to copy someone else, which is not really the case. I understand that on tracks like “Last Night I Heard Everything In Slow Motion”, its quite bassy, there’s autotune and it’s got a similar structure to James Blake, but I can’t really hear it in other tracks.
How has smoking influenced your music?
I do smoke a fair bit. I quite enjoy that drug, but don’t consider it a drug, but we won’t get into that. In general when you’re a bit high, and you’re listening to a track you’ve never heard before it just does everything you want it to do, it’s unexpected, it goes where you want it to go… it’s amazing. You know that feeling when you’re just like ‘oh what track is this, this is phenomenal…’ that happens to me a fair bit of the time haha. In general I just sort of embrace smoking and that sort of stuff, a lot of people can hear it in my music, it’s a big part of what I do. At the moment it’s sort of a big inspiration for me.
What do you think of Spotify/Rdio?
I’m not too happy about Spotify. I don’t mind that people get my music for free or whatever, but it really annoys me that someone else is making money from the work that I put in. I read in this article that to make minimum wage on Spotify you have to get something like 4 million plays a month, you get paid like 0.8c for every play or something. It’s pretty annoying.
The most important ingredient in nachos? Cheese… Avocado?
If you could play a song on the Moon looking back at Earth, what would it be? “Marijuana” by Chrome Sparks
Favourite film of all time? Matrix or In Bruges
Favourite film clip? New Flying Lotus clip, it’s like a short film that’s going with his album. Also, Massive Attack – “Teardrop”
Favourite alcoholic drink? Alizé
Lager or Cider? Cider
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The Beatles
Out of Chad Kroeger (Nickelback lead singer) and Avril Lavigne – which one is punching above their weight?
Oh God… They are both just such horrible people. Probably Chad Kroeger, yeah I sort of hate him a bit more.
First album you bought or first remembering listening to?
Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water by Limp Bizkit
Do you think Bane from the Dark Knight Rises is circumcised or uncircumcised?
Ummm… probably uncircumcised? We might need to email Christopher Nolan for confirmation on that one.
Which musical decade would you have most wanted to live in? The one that I’m living in now, or the 90s.
Root one, shoot one, marry one: Julia Gillard, The Queen & Whoopie Goldberg.
I don’t really like any of those people. Maybe I should just root Whoopie, I’ll marry the Queen she’s got a pretty nice house, and whatever shoot Julia, I don’t like her that much anyway.
Favourite song of all time? “Doobie Ashtray” by Devin the Dude or “Drop It Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I’d love to collaborate with James Blake and would also love to work with some rappers and produce some tracks but that’s a bit of way off I think. I’m really happy with the collaborators on the mix tape I’m about to release.
You can catch Oliver Tank this week at BIGSOUND Live and Brisbane Festival. He’s playing two sets on Thursday 13th September at Bakery Lane in the Valley, one at 8pm and another at 8.50pm. His Brisbane Festival sets are set to go off, with doors opening at 7pm this Saturday night, featuring Elizabeth Rose.
Tickets for Oliver Tank’s Brisbane Festival show this Saturday are only $25 and you can purchase those here.
Tickets for BIGSOUND Live are available here: www.oztix.com.au