Oberhofer is feel-good pop-rock that explodes straight through your heart down to your feet. The band’s bedroom-produced sound, emotional lyrics and irresistibly catchy melodies epitomize sincerity. Frontman Brad Oberhofer has the unique ability to craft beautiful harmonies and sounds out of a raw, dissonant collection of instruments. The 21 year old Tacoma, Washington native is expected to release his debut full-length EP, Time Capsules II, on March 27th and I for one cannot wait. Ever since hearing his 2010 track, “Away FRM U,” I have been an Oberhofer fan. I had the opportunity to talk on the phone with Brad before his DC show at the Black Cat tonight during which we talked about dreams, Tchaikovsky and New York City. You can read it all after the jump.
Tickets for Oberhofer’s show at the Black Cat tonight are available HERE.
STREAM: Oberhofer – “Away FRM U”
What was it like growing up in Tacoma, Washington?
Well I grew up placing a pretty high value on nature, and mountains and water.
In a previous interview, you mentioned that you started of rapping before you got into more of the music you make now. Can you tell me what a staple rap album or artist is for you and some other artists you’re currently listening to?
A staple rap album for me is by Aquemini by Outkast but right now I mostly just listen to classical music like Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich.
I know you play the guitar, violin and piano and I’m curious as to whether you’re self taught on all of those.
Well I’m not very good on all of those instruments but I’m always trying to learn how to play new things. I just bought a keyboard that I practice with while we’re driving.
Can you tell me when and where you were when you wrote your first song?
No I don’t actually know…wait. I was at my parent’s house. I had just been hit by a car when I was around 12 and recovering. I started generally beatboxxing this song and sat down at the piano and just figured it out.
Did you still have a recording of it?
Yeah I do, it’s just a hip hop beat though it’s not a song.
Do you think that it’s something you would potentially revisit, rework and release?
I don’t know that I know anything about the future. I mean I probably know things about the future on a subconscious level but I don’t think that I consciously know where anything’s going to go. So I don’t know if I can really speculate about it.
Well you are for sure playing Black Cat tomorrow in DC and going to Austin for SXSW. We can speculate about that.
Well I think those things are happening but I can’t be sure. I could die too and not be able to play the Black Cat tomorrow.
So then you have to live every day to the fullest.
Well I think everyday automatically lives itself to the fullest.
What about when you’re being lazy and you spend the entire day sleeping?
I don’t know about that, I actually just woke up and sleeping was very fun.
Did you have any particularly good dreams?
Well what had happened when you just called actually was I had a dream I was in a house in Chicago and I was with this group of girls that were being really vain. They wanted to go this store that had a swimming pool and jacuzzi in it and I just wanted to play frisbee. They went into this room to get their clothes and they were all just screaming cause they found a mouse…and then I woke up.
Sounds like you woke up at a good time. Do you ever have dreams you write about and make a song out of?
I mean I don’t write songs about specific things, usually just feelings that I have in dreams. Sometimes in my sleep I do write melodies and I wake up with them stuck in my head and then I use them in a song. That does happen sometimes but really it’s only happened twice.
How do you find inspiration to write songs and melodies in your waking life?
There are a bajillion ways that I do, just existing as a human. Walking around doing stuff, looking at things and feeling things.
I know you’re on a hiatus from NYU but while you were there you were studying music composition. How important do you think a formal education in music is for any artist to be successful?
I don’t think it matters at all. I don’t think anything matters at all in terms of musical success. Really you do whatever you end up doing and things just happen. Maybe if right now I were working on orchestral music and I had another composer that really mentored me through that, it would be helpful. But as far as this kind of music is concerned, really the whole point is that it’s about feeling, it’s not about knowing what you’re doing at all. There’s many successful musicians within pop music who do really know what they’re doing musically and also a lot of them that don’t and they make music that’s equally good as people who do know what they’re doing.
Do you think in the future you might go back to school?
I think about going back to school a lot of the time, I think about that a lot, about just being in one place all the time and just studying. It sounds kind of fun.
If there was one place you’d have to stay where would it be?
I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be in Japan in a month and won’t be able to get a flight out for three weeks and fall in love with it and just want to stay there forever. Or maybe I go to Columbus, Ohio and meet some girl that I want to marry and say “see you guys later I’m staying in Columbus, Ohio.” I think there are a million cities that have giant, cool buildings that are on the water and have beautiful sunsets. There are a bunch of small towns that have views of the mountains and tons of cool people and really sweet art scene – I think that exists in every single town. You know right now I’m feeling whatever it is that’s really special about New York because I’m giving New York the opportunity to be that special place for me. What really matters is that you are the same person you are wherever you go and any physical place you are shouldn’t hinder you from being the coolest person that you can be.