Heroes: Interview with Obalski (Public Possession, Munich)

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Dominik Obalski is a Cocktail Man, he mixes drinks in bars and structures miraculous musical forms in his records. We listened many times to his debut EP on superb Public Possession label and we wanted to know more about this crazy man and creative process behind this mesmerizing 12”. We talked with rising star from Munich about synthesisers, theatre, pure whiskey and more.

Listen samples from Obalski EP on Public Possession HERE

Where are you at the moment? Are you after work or before? Feel free, our interview can be strange sometimes)

Both wrong, I had a day at the Isar (the river through Munich), and came home for you two and to work on my new record. Later on. So I’m in my apartment.

Introduce yourself please in a pair of words. You are a mysterious guy you know.

Haha ok. I’m Obalski, half musician, artist and producer and half barkeeper from Munich. Am I a mysterious guy?

You created masterpiece and we don’t know much about you.

Oh nice, thank you!

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By the way half of Public Possession roster are mystery men. Matthew Brown is other one example) it’s a part of PP charm I think. Dominik, how do you feel after release of your debut 12”?

Haha yeah, I don’t know him either. I feel very good with it, I get lots of nice resonance from all over the world, which makes me very happy, cause I didn’t know if the people would like it.

How long you are playing / creating your own music?

I’ve been working in theatre since 2008. Or 2009? Something like that. Yeah, but just playing my own stuff.

But you should start even before it. Some bedroom music making.

I play live on stage with my synthesisers, or I record it before and it’s played from a CD or from the computer, and I’m done before the piece hits the stage for the first time. And I do that since 2008.

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Who did inspire you? What kind of stuff?

Yes I played the piano since I’m 7 years old, but that whole electric thing started actually with the first theatre piece. Inspiration… Hundreds of people, but in first place I was very much into this Klaus Schulze thing. It’s hard to pick just a few. Manuel Göttsching is another one. Those experimental stuff from the german 70s. But also Hip-Hop when I was younger.

You know today there are so many electronic artists without any education who are doing (especially at the start) simple 4/4 stuff. And your music is far from it!

Yes I wanted it to be.

And how did your music change from 2008?

Oh it changed very much. The first pieces were like piano music only, until I started to collect synthesisers. And then it changed more or less to that what it is on the record. A3 is actually originally from a theatre piece from last year.

How many synthesisers you have now?

Let me count haha. 11!

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Do you really need it all? Or is it just a collecting thing?

Hmmm. I guess so yes. They are so different, I use this one for basses, that one for spheres, the other one for noise. Not to forget the drumsynths! It’s also a collecting thing, but I use them all.

And what do you think about Todd Terje’ experiment with the Arps EP, when he did the whole record from one synth? Just asking as I’m not a musician and it’s interesting to know)

Do you know which one he used?

The ARP 2600. Have you this one?

Ah ok, well that’s a very-super-special-hard-to-get one. No i’m afraid not.

What machine you can suggest for beginners? And what synth was your first?

It depends on what you want from it, my first one was a Microkorg, it’s a tiny small one, but it got power, even I don’t use this one anymore. But it’s quite easy to handle, I think. I started with it, and learned a lot.

You are right. Have you a computer in your setup?

No, it’s strictly analogue, except the sequencer.

Man can you tell me such detail: can you capture idea you have in your mind at the moment OR your music is a result of improvisation only?

Depends on what comes out of it. Chevy Cheese for example is a whole improvisation.

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Will listen to it now) Where from you got this voice sample?

Oh it’s from one goofy early 80’s movie, I’m not allowed to tell you :)

Are you using samples often?

Samples — almost never. On the whole EP there are three samples. Two are vocal samples, and the other one is an african bongo. I never use melodic samples. That’s kinda dogmatic for me. Very very very much a you can imagine. I have no problems with drum samples or vocals.

Wow! And what do you think about Matthew Herbert who prefer to create music only from original sounds?

Means original sounds, only sounds he produces or only samples? I’m confused now.

I think he even not using synth sounds. All sounds are field recordings and then he creates music from these recorded sounds. Didn’t you know it? One of his last albums are made of sounds of one pig from birth to death)

No actually not. I know Matthew Herbert but I’m not very into it.

Let’s move on. So the sound, atmosphere of jungle on A2 is also made by you. Synthetic jungle)

Yes exactly, except that bongo. That kinda voodoo rhythm that starts the track, you know what I mean? That’s a sample, the rest is me. But it’s a one second long sample, it didn’t have this voodoo drive. That was a quite good accident.

Tell us about creative process on this EP in details.

I know Valentino and especially Marvin for a very very long time, and somehow they started their DJ thing right about that time I started my theatre thing, they know my music ever since. So they said, Hey why don’t you do a record for us? My early suggestions were more 4/4 until they came to and said, no no no do your sound. And that’s what came out of it. I used a Korg MS-20, a Waldorf, a Moog, the Nord Lead, and some drum synths and recorded it all at my apartment. Except A3 as I said, that is from my last gallery production.

What’s the inspiration behind this music? Voodoo ritual thing?

No not at all voodoo ritual, but I listened to tons of african music during the production, and I’m fascinated by this african drums and how they are played. But I really can’t pick one artist or album.

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And do you think we’ll see some 4/4 from you in the future? Interesting to hear dance stuff from you after such brilliant abstract!

I don’t know really. I don’t really plan my future music, but who knows. As the Intro says. :)

Are you collecting records?

Yes of course!

And what kind of stuff you are collecting?

Whatever I find. Abstract and much house actually. And I like cheesy 80s R&B.

You know I was very surprised to hear strictly house set from u on PP Soundcloud page)

Haha. Yes I love house. But that’s party.

House purist) And what about work at bars? Is it only for the money or is it fun for you? By the way is it your own bar maybe?

It’s actually pretty much fun, but it’s a special bar with and fun sometimes can be a strange one. No no its not m own bar. But the owner is a friend of mine.

Are you listening many stories during the days? You know all bars are the same in films…

So it’s not all for money.

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Barmen listening sad stories from clients.

Yeah that’s some of the fun I meant.

«Harry, it’s enough for ya, go out!»

Yeah something like that. Hahaha))) Seems you been there.

What’s your favorite drink?

I like whiskey. As a Bourbon Highball with ginger ale and only bourbon. Sometimes even pure.

God I want it!

Yeah me too, it’s pretty hot over here.

Will you watch World Cup in bar?

Yes I guess so. Even if it’s forbidden.

Cheers man! And good luck Germany on World Cup!

Yeah, thank you mate. It was a pleasure!

Buy Obalski 12” in a PP webstore
Follow Obalski on Soundcloud
Follow Public Possession on Soundcloud
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Words by Sasha Tessio & Artem Super Ikra.
Cover drawing by Sasha Tessio.