written by Marko Jakob
Pix666: Hey Oliver. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days, are you alive and well?
Oliver: I’m doing okay thanks. Keeping busy songwriting and preparing various releases and projects for the year.
Pix666: Please tell the readers a little bit about when you realised that you wanted to become a musician and what were the deciding factors to start a music career. Who are your idols?
Oliver: I think there were a few lightning bulb moments like seeing the music video for ‘Rebel yell’ by Billy Idol, or seeing James Hetfield in Enter Sandman. I got my first guitar when I was 12 after seeing this beaten up Spanish guitar for sale in a car boot sale and I begged my mum to give me the 15 quid to buy it. It was probably the best decision that I ever made.
Up until my early 20s, I was only ever really interested in playing as a guitarist or keys player in bands but that changed when I spent three weeks in hospital after getting Salmonella. My kidneys failed and I basically nearly died. I realised that life is very precious and I wanted to leave something behind. Ever since then, music has become sort of an obsession in my life.
Pix666: This week your new video will be released – a cover version of a Tom Waits song. Do you have a special preference for cover versions and what meaning does this song in particular have for you?
Oliver: I am exploring songs that really made me fall in love with music. I love the fun and playful approach that Tom Waits takes to writing songs. The song is ‘Going out west’. Like many of Waits’ songs, this one’s written from the perspective of an interesting character, which is something I also like to do in my songs: in this case, a gruff man who is endearingly, overly serious about his dream of becoming a Hollywood actor. I like this character a lot because of that insane desire to escape this current prison that we are in – I think it is felt by a lot of people at the moment.
Pix666: How do you create your songs? Do you have a certain plan, a special way of doing it?
Oliver: There are several ways into writing a song. Sometimes, I’ll start with lyrics first or I’ll have an idea for a song and then go from there. Ideas can come from anywhere whether that be day dreaming, watching a film or reading book. I think Marianne faithful once said that maybe the most that you can expect from a relationship that goes bad is to come out of it with a few good songs, which is something that I have experienced myself recently and has been the source of a lot of inspiration lately.
Sometimes, I’ll write a riff on a guitar or create songs on the piano. Often, I find having a beat on a drum machine or on samples helps and going off that. I like to bounce off drummers quite a lot so playing with Chrisy from Empathy Test and the live drummer of my band Remi Garrier really helps. I am also starting to collaborate with artists more; Josh Rumble who I record with helps keep me in check, I am releasing a song with a songwriter called Aurelio Capello based in Tennessee later this year and also the live guitarist in my band Valerio helps me think outside the box a bit more with melodies. My mix engineer Donald Clark also will make some very useful suggestion to how the production is done.
Pix666: What are your musical plans for this year? Do you plan to release more songs or do you maybe have some live performances planned?
Oliver: I will be releasing a couple of singles this year. The next one will be in about a months time. I am hoping to also get my live band together to film a live stream very soon. Really hoping that we are able to do live shows because we are sounding great. I got a little bit of help from Chrisy Lopez from Empathy Test in doing that, not only is she a really great drummer but she is also the best MD I have come across. As soon as things open up again, the first thing we will look to do is get playing live. I am optimistic that this is going to be possible again soon.
Pix666: Last year you performed with the band Empathy Test at a festival in Germany. Please describe the feeling of suddenly getting the permission to play a live concert with an audience in a year filled with ‘Corona restrictions’? Did you notice during the show how much people/fans miss/have missed this kind of entertainment?
Oliver: I think everyone in the band really needed that tour to remind themselves what it was like to play live again. It was quite an amazing tour full of ups and downs. The first night of the tour was challenging because we had no lighting and the sound wasn’t the best. In between that, I really enjoyed hanging out with Isaac and Chrissy in Hamburg. We also had a lot of fun in Switzerland – I ended up getting very drunk and doing some sort of tantric yoga dance whilst topless on stage after the show. The final show in Leipzig was really special. We definitely ended the tour on a high and can’t wait to get playing again. I think the fans really enjoyed it especially when they were let loose and allowed to be free.
Pix666: You have only been a member of Empathy Test since 2019. How did this collaboration come about, how do you know the other band members?
Oliver: The answer is very simple. Isaac messaged me on Facebook as he needed a new keys player, we did a rehearsal and we started touring from there. Since then, we’ve jammed together on tour, which is how the track Monsters came about. Looking forward to doing more of this in the future. I didn’t know any of the members of the band prior to this. But, I love each member very much. Really lovely, talented and fun people.
Pix666: Another question… are there any big problems for British artists after the UK leaves the EU? At least I can imagine that it won’t be as easy as before to deliver merch to the rest of Europe.
Oliver: There are big problems and challenges for British artists playing live in a post-Brexit world. This is something that is not being addressed by the UK government despite petitions led by artists in the UK. It is simply going to be more expensive. As it stands, artists will have to buy a visa in every country they travel to, which would be unfeasible financially, particularly in the case of the live band I have where there are 5 of us.
It is important for British bands to play in Europe, especially in Germany where there are so many amazing venues and people that are hungry for new music. A lot of bands develop their audiences across Europe first, for example The Cure initially took off in France. Performing live is the main way you make money as a musician and where you sell most of your merch, so this needs to be addressed otherwise British bands will struggle.
Pix666: What else do you do besides the music during the contact restrictions? Do you have any interesting hobbies? Or is music simply everything in your life?
Oliver: I like watching football a lot. I am a Tottenham Hotspur fan. I miss going to games and singing songs with complete strangers.
Pix666: Do you have any other news, that you would like to share with the fans?
Oliver: Stay tuned for some new songs in the coming months!
Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck with your music and stay healthy!!!
photos © Oliver Marson