"I’ve got the next three albums written..."

Oberhofer is led by 21 year old Brad Oberhofer, former resident of Tacoma, Washington, now a New York Brooklynite and up-and-coming musician who creates shambolic yet melodic indie anthems.

Sipping on a cup of hot tea and honey, Brad Oberhofer is trying to wake himself from a well deserved nap after a very long day two days of promotional activity and a recent long haul flight from Coachella (which he - after a quick stint in Paris - will be returning to). He sits back on the sofa in his Letterman jacket, glad to hold something warm in his hands after his cold kip in the tour van. But, being in this dreamlike state does not halter any sort of interesting conversation. Today’s topics: being hit by cars, dying on his bike, freestyle rapping and how he’s already got the next three albums in the bag...

Jamie: Your new album is called ‘Time Capsules II’ and is supposed to encapsulate moments in your life. What moments has this album captured?

Brad: Everyone’s sad sometimes. It’s all just moments from life. There are sad moments too and there are other moments that aren’t sad at all. But, I’m never really actually sad, more just feel sad or think that I’m sad. But at the end of the day I’m really lucky to have everything, so I’m not anxious out of anything.

J: What has brought you into making this certain type of music?

O: One day, when I was ten years old, my friend came to school and was rapping. I was like “man, what’s that!” He’s like “oh it’s Big Tymers, its rap music, its cool.” So I got into that, I got into Outkast, got into freestyle rapping. That’s how I got into music, then I started making beats.

Really what happened, when I was twelve/thirteen years old, I got hit by a car and I had a pretty bad concussion. I had already been rapping but I had never written melodies before. So I was recovering in my parent’s house and all of a sudden I started humming this melody that I had never heard before. I don’t know why, but it occurred to me that no one had written that melody before. It felt familiar, but no one had written it. So I went to the piano and I played the melody and that was the first song I ever wrote. That was when I first started writing music, when I had this concussion.

I’m inspired by...I ride my bike a lot, and I love that feeling. I could die riding my bike. If I rode my bike down a hill really fast and got hit by a really huge truck, I wouldn’t mind going that way. I’m inspired by death a lot, a lot of the songs that will come out are about death in some capacity. I also love my friends and I meet a lot of girls that I’m inspired by. It’s a different kind of inspiration when it’s someone who your romantically attracted to, of course. I’m inspired by creative people, I’m inspired by being treated unfairly, I’m inspired by aloneness and when it’s sunny outside.

J: Your music sounds very theatrical - would you ever put on a musical?

B: I’ve never really been into musicals, I don’t think I would ever put on a theatre or any sort of theatre performance, but I do write orchestral music. I started writing a symphony, but that’s about as theatric as I get.

J: Why symphonies?

B: I started writing hip hop instrumentals when I was young and that turned into writing orchestral music, then I sort of got into music theory.

J: If there wasn’t love in the world, what do you think you’d be writing about?

B: I don’t even know if they are about love. I don’t think you can always explain your feelings, when you write music you can’t really explain what you’re writing about all the time. You can’t really articulate it, that’s why you’re writing music...you write music because you really don’t have that much of a way with words. So I think if there was no such thing as love I’d probably still be writing about similar things, because I don’t know if they are about love.

J: Most people your age are singing about drinking and general debauchery, where as your music is quite reserved, innocent and meaningful. What separates you from them?

B: I just end up writing songs about other things. I do write songs about that, I just don’t talk about things directly. People look at these songs all the time and they’re like “this is a relationship song, this is about a girl” What if I have a relationship with everything in life that’s similar to that? What if these songs are about my bicycle or just the way I feel about the clouds? The way people only write about girls, I just sort of write about the way I feel about everything. There are songs I have about having a really good time or being really happy, and those songs are effectively about drinking and just enjoying things. I don’t think there’s much of a difference at all, people are still ecstatic when they’re writing about having fun and partying and drinking, and I am too...I just articulate it differently.

J: Future stuff - what’s it going to sounds like?

B: I’ve got the next three albums written. People listen to this record and they think it’s about girls and heartbreak and love and generic thing here and generic thing there, and it’s funny because those things don’t feel like generic feelings to me because they’re just how I felt. I wasn’t thinking about it, I wasn’t thinking like “oh man, I’m writing this thing that all these people can relate to.” I hear people that are like “he wrote that song about some girl he was going out with.” Like, man, it sounds so lame when you talk about it! That was just a feeling that I had, I don’t think about it in those terms. I think about it as this specific moment in time, I guess. People are confusing it, maybe. Some people think since pop music is all about love, this is too. Maybe it is, but at least it’s meaningful. A lot of the songs that are probably going to come out are probably uncontrollably similar in that way, because they’re coming from me, a person that feels things, and people almost are pretty much the same. All the songs I’m ever going to write about are feelings that I have. Maybe they won’t be the same feelings and maybe I won’t seem like I feel the same way about those feelings, but all the songs that I’m going to write and all the songs that are on the next three albums are just about feelings that I have. That’s it.

J: If you were to actually put something in a time capsule now and bury it, what would go in?

B: I’ve actually thought about that before. I’d probably record a tape. I know that’s cheating, but I would record a tape where I hit the record button and make up a story. Just me telling a weird story, I think that’d be the craziest thing to find in twenty years. You don’t know who it’s from, you don’t know what the era really felt like, someone’s just telling this random story that makes no sense to you.

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This diverse and manic chat translates into their London show, as the gig at CAMP Basement is uncontrollable. Knocking over amps, jumping on the bar, bringing the mic stand into the middle of the crowd along with his wireless guitar - Brad turns the place into a circus. It’s nothing short of a miracle that he doesn’t hit one of the screaming girls in the front row with his violently shaking guitar (which he tells Clash he has done before).

If you weren’t at this show, make sure you’re at the next, because soon there won’t be room to swing an instrument. Let’s hope there’s no unfortunate bike accidents in the meantime.

Oberhofer play Manchester’s Deaf Institute Monday 21st May and London’s Hoxton Bar & Kitchen Tuesday 22nd May. ‘Time Capsules II’ is out now.

Words: Jamie Carson
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