Spacey dance floor sounds from a deep house specialist.
Oskar Offermann is a key purveyor of modern deep house. Lush and groovy, most of the German's tracks are as functional as they are vibrant, giving his work an aesthetic that appeals to both DJs and casual listeners. Raised in Frankfurt but now based in Berlin, Offermann released his first record in 2008. It was the first in a long series of collaborations with Edward, a fellow Frankfurt native Offermann has been closely aligned with for much of his career. The pair produce and DJ together frequently, holding shared residencies at clubs like Robert Johnson and Kiev's Closer. As a solo artist, Offermann has released two standout LPs—2012's Do Pilots Still Dream Of Flying? and 2015's Le Grand To Do—and a string of far-reaching singles on labels like Aim, Mule Musiq and, most regularly, his own WHITE outlet.
Recorded in one take, Offermann's RA podcast is a stroll through a colourful world. Like his back catalogue, a clear sense of groove is the base for a collage of delicate sounds, resulting in a feeling that's simultaneously warm and ethereal—music for your mind and heart.
What have you been up to recently?
I just moved my studio out of my home into this crazy industrial area, which is of course a very nice step for me. No more tuning bass drums in my boxers. Actually, maybe I will still do that in my new studio.
How and where was the mix recorded?
I hit sync and let the autopilot do the rest. Afterwards, I spent about four weeks adding mistakes, making it sound like it's actually a live-recorded DJ mix. Haha, no—I actually can only do it in one run, so I did a few takes. I tried to record it in a very nice club in Vietnam, The Observatory, while I was touring Asia, to help capture a club atmosphere better, but then I wasn't satisfied with the playlist. Plus, a club isn't the same if you don't have a crowd in front of you. So I changed it again, recorded it with my broken little Allen&Heath mixer at home, and ended up changing the playlist again the minute I was mixing it. I decided to leave it like this, because you can feel the energy in this imperfection, so it's not so stiff as it is when you plan everything.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
My initial goal was to make it like a trip to all the clubs I like to go to and really care about. Starting with an acoustic guitar on my couch, then moving it to a very small club like Club Der Visionäre, to a medium-sized club like Robert Johnson, then a bigger place like Panorama Bar, and ending up at a festival at night, which is also another favourite environment of mine.
I had this crazy experience with my friends from Closer in Kiev last year. After 16 hours of DJing, they rented a big bus and we traveled with the crowd to a festival near Odessa, where I played a set at night until the sunrise at a beach at the Black Sea. This was one of my most memorable moments from last year. And actually I think the plan is to repeat the whole thing this summer again, so I can hardly wait for this one again.
You've been running WHITE for almost ten years now. What plans do you have for it?
We are actually shutting down the label this year. There is only one more big compilation coming, with many of the key artists on it. This is our "thank you" to all our fans and artists we've collaborated with over the years. Many people I've talked to don't understand this step. But I always hated it when good labels start to fade and die a dishonourable death. Plus, I want to make room for younger labels with new ideas and visions. It is so important that there's still this attraction among youngsters, and they should get advice and support from their elders. Eventually you get so much in return, because it is them reinventing the music usually.
For me, this happened with the whole Frankfurt scene, especially the guys from the labels Hardworksoftdrink and Traffic. We all became very, very close friends, and hanging out with them for intense hours changed my whole perspective on music. This was such a big, inspirational thing, because this happened around a time where I was very bored with house music. I just couldn't stand this poppy, trance-y vocal stuff many people in the underground world seemed to go for once they smelt the big money. I mean, I love pop music in general very dearly, and you can even hear some poppy, trance-y vocal moments in this mix. But there is a fine line between real quality and kitsch. And this pattern seems to repeat among good friends and old heroes again and again.
Everybody is free to do whatever they want and listen to the music they like, and that is the real beauty of music—that it is pure freedom. So who am I to judge? It was just sad to see from certain people, from whom I expected more quality and realness in the long run. Maybe that's also the reason why I prefer hanging out with younger people these days. They just inspire me more!
So now I will do a release on Hardworksoftdrink, concentrate more on being an artist and let the younger guys handle the business side of things. I also never felt really good being "the label guy" and making decisions, like who to put out and who not, which tracks to pick and so on. I always felt bad karma-wise, because I knew what it felt like being the artist on the other end. And you know, I try to be a very nice, positive person. I am very gifted with my life, and I wanna embrace this and give positive energy back to the people. I guess once you see me DJing you will understand this.
How did you and Edward first link up?
We both come from Frankfurt and became good friends around 15 years ago when we moved to Berlin. It took a few years until we landed on the same musical planet, but music can also be a form of communication, and as music lovers it was quite exciting finding stuff the other one liked in the first few years. Today we don't play every set together anymore because of different schedules, plus we both felt the urge of being DJs on our own. So now we do more breakfasts during the week in order to catch up with each others' weekend, haha. Of course we still have certain residencies—like at Robert Johnson, Closer or Hinterhof—where we've always played together and want to keep it this way. These moments mean a lot to us, especially now, since we still really enjoy being around each other.
What are you up to next?
There's a remix record of tracks from my album coming out, with remixes from Metamatics, Osunlade, Edward and Bodin & Jacob. There will be the 12-inch for Hardworksoftdrink, and I want to put out a new Rimini record soon. Besides that, I need to rewire my whole studio, which is not my favourite thing to do. And, of course, there's my annual birthday party, Der Gipfel Der Gönnung. It will happen on May 28th again, which is always a big pleasure because all my friends are there. We play through the whole night, and hang out and DJ all Sunday in the beautiful garden of ://about blank.