[Interview] Oskar Offermann Puts the Hip Hop Back in House
With his return to Atlanta at Studio No. 7 brought to us by the Project B. team, Oskar Offermann once again showed us a different take on house music, mixing spacey sounds with plenty of hip hop-inspired notes. Born and raised in Germany and coming from a love for old school 90's hip hop, his set brought a very fresh momentum to the dance floor, drawing out some vigorous dance moves among the patrons. Despite quite the resume; running his WHITE label, travelling worldwide to DJ, and having residencies at legendary venues like Berlin's Panorama Bar, Oskar's humility and relaxed demeanor instantly makes conversation with him feel like having a chat with a good friend. In our conversation, we cover what his true passion means to him, putting to rest his almost decade-old label, and what goals he's now aspiring to.
As a producer, what emotions and mindset brings about your best creations?
A good trick I found recently is I will imagine certain people, like friends of mine, dancing. And this helps me to find a certain vibe, and in general I will also get into a state where I am losing track of time and place. And that is the level you want to be at when you produce music, because then you’re really free and just putting out your emotions.
You seem to have a true appreciation for nature and its raw beauty. What does taking time to be outdoors do for your well-being?
It means a lot, I go running everyday, about 7km. Now I try to do an extra day, on the weekend usually, and spend that day out in nature. I am going out tomorrow evening, and were are doing some outdoor things, Bobi and I. I recently was in Georgia, and there were amazing mountains there. Very fairy tale, Lord of the Rings type of location. It’s beautiful, and bloody cheap! I really loved it there, definitely a highlight.
I read that you are planning to put your label, WHITE, to rest. What lead to this decision and what are your plans going forward?
It just didn’t really feel right running the label anymore. We have done this for almost 10 years now, and I got the feeling that at some point, it wasn’t the original crew anymore and we just grew out of it. I had the feeling that it was time to quit. I think it’s a good thing if these things have a full stop, in a way. It is good if things stop at some point. And I have all these younger friends who are running labels and who have so much more energy doing this, that I kind of like the idea of opening up the market for those younger guys. Make room for them and their labels. And maybe I will do something new in the future, but I haven’t given it much thought yet. The thing is, I really want to concentrate on music for pretty much the first time in my life. Just producing music and DJing full time.
Having worked with Edward for so long, and growing together musically, what have been some of your best memories and biggest challenges?
We are still best friends, and I see him twice a week even. Even though we don’t DJ that much together, we still have a pretty tight connection. And now me DJing so much by myself, it makes me look forward that much more to us DJing together. It’s so much more fun when you share all of these experiences. You have this collective memory then of these trips, and it’s better for if things are not working out quite as they should, you can have a laugh about it then. We still have residencies together, so every once in a while we will play gigs together, and we will get super excited about it. I still love him very much, and he is still my favorite back to back partner in the world.
What were some of the first vinyls you ever owned?
It would have been some hip hop vinyls from the 90’s, like ’97. That was the first time I intended to become a DJ, and it didn’t work out, I didn’t have money for a record player. But this was the first time I bought records. German hip hop was really big then as well as more deep gangster hip hop.
Music tends to have a deeper meaning for people on an individual basis, which is the beauty of it. What does music do for you?
I always say music, for me, is the purest art form. It has this direct access to the soul, which I think no other art form has. It’s like an arrow that shoots into your heart if you use the right frequencies and the right time and the right combination. Music is also my whole life, it’s what I breathe, what I feel, the only thing I ever wanted to do and was good at since I was a small kid. It’s just very natural for me.
What are some upcoming projects you would like to share with us?
(Note: At this point some wind decided to blow my dress for what amounted to be a mildly awkward Marilyn Monroe moment. But, we laughed and moved on.)
Yes! There is a remix record of my album coming out, an Edward remix along with some remixes from a few other guys. Then I have a 12 inch coming out on a younger friend of mine’s label. The label is called Hard Work Soft Drink. And then I am going to concentrate more on making music. I just moved into a new studio, so I still have to adjust some things there and build some stuff. And then focusing on producing and DJing, this is what I do, what I’m best at.
Cover photo credit: Ben Roth, 2015