The "Cultural Retreat Into Illusion" And More: An Interview With OVERWERK
Many of your songs have such an epic feel, which at times for me touches upon an almost classical sound. The final breakdown and buildup in “Contact” comes to mind. Does any classical music theory come into play during your creative process? Or does the music simply come on instinct?
I’ve never learned classical music theory. I don’t feel it is necessary to produce good music. In my opinion, going into a creative situation with a beginner’s mind is the best way to get fresh results. The more of an “expert” you become, the more your creativity is confined to the archetypes of that medium.
If you could score any type of movie, what would it be about?
I love films that make people question their reality. I think questioning reality and existence is an integral contributing factor to becoming a more considerate person. So I’d love to score any movie that pushed the boundaries in that sense.
All of your album artwork, which you create yourself, is phenomenal. Would you ever consider developing a project that marries all of your creative skills together? A short film perhaps?
I have always been considering it, and that’s the ultimate goal. I’m always working behind the scenes to develop my other artistic abilities, with the eventual plan of combining them all. I’d love to make a short film. My knowledge of video editing software was actually what helped me transition into music production interfaces.
Your career has allowed you to travel the world. Outside of your experiences at your shows, do you have any favorite cities to stop in?
I think San Francisco is one of my favourite cities. I love the culture. People who share a common mentality tend to cluster together, and that area just happens to be where a lot of innovators and forward thinkers reside. Although, I haven’t been to a huge number of places in the US - which will change very soon. So I’m looking forward to discovering some new favorite places.
What do the next 12 months hold for OVERWERK?
I’m in the process of upgrading my home studio, which will soon be the ultimate production powerhouse. I’ve had a lot of ideas and inspiration, so I’m looking forward to churning out some new tracks. Having more advanced production tools is definitely going to step up the quality of my sound. I also recently signed with two booking agencies. This coming year will definitely have more shows in North/South America, and way more shows in Europe. Apart from that, I have some really awesome music videos that have been in the works for a very long time. So this year will definitely be a big one.
Many, many thanks for OVERWERK for spending some time to talk to us. I think we can all agree that it's refreshing to hear from a producer who possesses such sharp intellect and a clear vision for what he wants from his career and his life. I think his thoughts on contemporary culture and the music industry are just as inspirational as his music - well, almost.
Follow OVERWERK's journey:
OVERWERK is quickly becoming a household name in dance music, and if you've ever listened to him it's clear why. While many electro-house producers today seem content to play it safe, casually vomitting forth bland but commercially successful festival "bangers," OVERWERK has continued to up the complexity of his music, releasing only the surefire, high-quality gems we've come to expect from him. Instead of dropping bloated EPs, the Canadian prefers to hit us with an infrequent blitzkrieg of songs - his past three EPs contained six, six, and four tracks. But as you listen, you know beyond any doubt that there isn't a skippable track to be found. Each OVERWERK concoction carries with it a unique style, pace, and atmosphere, all while remaining true to his high energy, inspirational sound. If you even slightly enjoy Wolfgang Gartner and the like, OVERWERK will blow you away.
If you haven't hopped on this train, this serves as the final boarding call - OVERWERK won "Breakthrough Artist of 2013" from Symphonic, and has already licensed his music to Lamborghini, Gucci, Prada, Vogue, Chrysler, GoPro, FOX, Fortune Magazine, Ford, and Air Tahiti. If the Tahitians have taken notice, you damn sure better have too. Without further ado, let's see what the man himself has to say - he might just inspire you to get a little philosophical along the way.
It’s clear from your last three releases that you emphasize quality over quantity. Does this stem from a philosophy of yours as an artist? Or is this a listener-centric strategy - to present fans with digestible bits of your music to focus on?
I’m trying to do quality over quantity. I want my music to have a sustaining presence in people’s lives. I strongly dislike music that is one dimensional. A lot of EDM tracks riff on one single melody and have no variation. My goal is to stir up actual emotion with my music and tell a story.
Conquer is an appropriate title for your latest EP – after listening to any of the four songs I feel like I can take on the world. Is there any music out there that similarly pumps you up?
I get a lot of inspiration from Queen. I definitely think their music is incredible and gets me pumped. Within a more contemporary scene, I think Feed Me’s Big Adventure has that effect on me. I have great respect for Feed Me and I think that EP was a great representation of his creativity.
You’ve mentioned being a big Daft Punk fan for quite some time. What do you think their impressive Grammy haul, including being the first electronic artists to win Album of the Year, means for dance music?
I was on a business trip during the Grammy’s, and didn’t even know they even took place. I had no idea Daft Punk won Album of the Year. The Grammy’s are basically a “who is the most famous” award, and I’m glad they got it. The more people that are exposed to dance music, the better.
From past interviews, it is clear that you are wise beyond your years, so let’s take it up a notch. You recently referred to a very thought-provoking article on the current state of American society. As your career progresses on its current trajectory, you are bound to increasingly encounter the trappings of superficial, celebrity culture. How do you as an individual avoid becoming too intertwined with “the nationwide celebration of image over substance?” Is there a way for the music industry to move beyond that?
For me, avoiding superficial celebrity culture takes no effort. I have never encountered a “trapping” of the culture. It is my personal desire to surround myself with good, honest people. I want to learn and grow from those around me, and be renowned by those who’s opinions I actually appreciate.
Those who value acclaim or notoriety are just desperately trying to fill a void in their ego. Because they lack depth and perspective, they are tricked into thinking that grandiosity equals fulfilment. These pompous individuals believe that the pursuit of fame and wealth is a righteous endeavour; “The American dream”. Little do they realize, they are the consumers, not the creators on this earth. They have an image of importance but do not contribute back to the ecosystem.
This “cultural retreat into illusion” and consumerist mentality is a cancer. Because I am just a cell, a part of a greater system, I want to produce good, not devour it. I want to contribute substance, not illusion. I want my art to reach as many people as possible, to impact their lives, not my own.