Interview: Time with Tank

Oliver TankWords by Chelsea Lorren Brown

With an upcoming Australian tour and a debut album in the works, Oliver Tank has one hell of a year ahead of him.

Based in Sydney, 24 year-old Oliver Tank produces self-proclaimed “heartfelt computer music”, an accurate description of the synthy, dreamy music layered with vocals, real instruments and sweeping electronic melodies. Since releasing his first EP, Dreams, in 2011 Tank has experienced a swift and warm welcome into the Australian music scene; next to rave reviews, awards, and some pretty serious recognition from triple J, Tank has also toured with the likes of Lana Del Ray, Lorde, and James Blake. But this year is all about Tank and his own endeavours. On the 8th of February he will set off on his Australian wide Slow Motion Music tour, and is currently slaving away to perfect his very first album. I caught up with Tank over the phone to discuss the year ahead, his unique sound, and Snoop Dogg remixes.

You have an upcoming Australian tour staring in February, what can we expect from it?

I’m looking forward to being in front of a lot of people who are just there for my music and seeing how everyone interacts. The show is really live, I don’t play with a laptop or anything. I’ll have visuals and lighting, and some people joining me; there are some great support acts playing. I just think it’s going to be a really great time, I’m looking forward to it.

You’ve been involved in tours with Lana Del Ray and Lorde, what did you learn from them and the way they performed?

They were both really cool. It was pretty crazy, I kind of got an idea of what it’s like to be a celebrity or something just from the amount of people obsessed with their music. People would be lining up trying to catch a glimpse of them going into sound check all day at the venue. It was lovely though.

What inspired you to become a musician?

Well, I was learning production at Uni, that’s kind of what got me on the electronic-y music I make. I played guitar for a long time before that. Some of my family friends from…I think from Germany or something, they were staying with us and their son played guitar, I was probably ten. So I really like messing around with guitars, I bought one for myself. I’ve always been interested in music, trying to write songs, and then I guess my music taste developed over the years. I really got into electronic music around the time I was learning production.

You’ve described your sound as “heartfelt computer music”, what is it about soft, synthetic sounds that you like in your music?

I like to use strings and warm melodies, sort of nice sounding stuff, and piano. Not really any harsh sounds. I guess I always try to put a lot of heart into my tracks. I don’t know if there’s one particular thing that does that, I more just like to make music I really like, with a melody I really like, and try and really feel it. ‘Cause when I make music I wanna try and be a part of people’s lives, so they can be like, “this song reminds me of this and that”. It’s nice to know my music have helped some people with things in their life. I guess I’m just trying to make it as good as possible, and put a lot of heart into it. It’s gotta be real and have some substance.

Since the launch of your first EP in 2011 you’ve experienced quite a whirlwind of success, and now you’re off on an Australian wide tour, what else can we expect from 2014?

Well, I’m working on my album at the moment. I really wanna get this thing right, I’ve never made an album before, and it’s a daunting task but I’m really excited about it. I just really wanna make sure my song-writing and my singing and production is all perfect for this one. I really like all the tracks I’ve made in the past. I don’t like some of them as much as I used to, for whatever reason, but I really wanna make sure this album is full of tracks I really love and that I think will stand the test of time.

In a perfect world, who would you like to collaborate with on your music in the future?

I’d like to work with some more vocalists. I dunno, I kinda wanna get my production skills up a little bit and work on producing for other people, just because I think I could make some interesting music. I’m trying to think of who… I wouldn’t mind doing some stuff with some rappers. It sounds good in my head but I’ve never attempted anything like that before.

Speaking of rappers, I noticed on your Soundcloud account that you’ve done a few covers and remixes, like the Sound Of Silence, which has a similar sound to your music already. But there was also a remix of Drop It Like It’s Hot, which you wouldn’t think would go with your sound but it somehow really works. What made you want to remix that song and will there be any similar things in the future?

That song is a mash-up of one of my other songs, which was a cover of a different Snoop song, Beautiful and Drop It Like It’s Hot. When I did my first tour I was messing around with it and I thought it would just be a nice surprise to play to people, be able to end the show on a dance feel. So I just mashed up the two tracks, did my own thing. I had done it live heaps, but I hadn’t put in on Soundcloud for ages and a few people were asking for it, so I thought, “I may as well just put it up!” I’m keen to do some more stuff like that. At the moment I’m focussing on the tour and the album, but I’ll definitely do some more Snoop Dogg covers, I don’t really know what track yet. I’m interested in that sort of stuff, and it’s always fun to do.

Where do you find the inspiration for your music and the lyrics that you write?

It takes a long time, and it’s a lot of trial and error. I usually centre it around a theme, so like every relationship I’ve had has had a bit of a theme to it. It comes from all these different places, every time is different. I don’t really start any track the same as the last one. It’s not very formulaic or romantic, it’s just watching it come together in the end.

You can catch Oliver and his Slow Motion Music tour on Friday the 28th of February at The Bakery.



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