Are you dressed and packed for an innovative sonic journey? It will be full of minimalist glitch, moody dance beats and melodic guitar that culminates in sprawling, poignant chaos. There will be meandering vocal hooks to climb that symphonic cliff face. This is the unique sound of nomadic musician/producer known as Outside The Academy (OTA).
Some of you may know him less formally as Pawel Cholewa (Pa-vell Ho-li-ver). We’ve been salivating over his soon to be released EP Second-Guessing here at YM HQ. Freshly dropped single “Solutionism” is exemplary. I just had to find out more about the cinematic aural complexity of OTA as he prepares for East Coast Tour in late February/March.
So I asked him some easy questions, and a couple to make him think anticipating, accurately, that he would enjoy a challenge!
What aspects of your childhood have influenced your music? (Poignant question I know, but couldn’t help myself.)
Wow. Indeed. But I think that’s the kind of question I would be tempted to ask other musicians also. I think mainly my Polish background, and growing up in an Australian landscape whilst experiencing fairly rigid Eastern European traditions; religion, family, food, and conservative values brought on by my immediate family, whom are not musical at all. Although my family is close, beautiful and supportive, I’m sure my childhood was filled with some innate sense of rebellion to all of those traditions in an attempt to create a better affinity with the more liberal and artistic kind of place I was living in – that being Melbourne.
For you, what are the key ingredients to a great song?
Experimentation, brilliant and intensely laboured effects that you just know took hours to produce, drive, melody, harmony, feel and a progression, riff or chorus that when you listen to it for the first time you never want it to end.
Who do you cite as your main musical influences?
The obvious ones are Kevin Parker, Grizzly Bear, D.D Dumbo, Daniel Johns, The Presets, Radiohead and James Murphy. And then perhaps the less obvious ones are Anton Newcombe, The Acid, I’lls, WhoMadeWho and Big Fat Kill.
With the release and tour of your Second-Guessing EP, it is a year for you really getting your music out there. What goals would you most like to achieve?
I’m not crazy ambitious. Sure I have some definite plans, but my biggest goal of 2017 was, or will be, releasing this music.
That is the means and the ends in and of itself. After this second EP comes out I will hopefully have released a suite of music as OTA over the past few years that I believe represents a relatively broad range of sounds and styles of which I am proud. And I’m quite content with that…for now.
Describe your live execution of your songs, given you play all instruments yeah?
The main thing I use and need is a loop station, in which I record a main guitar riff, progression or vocal melody of any song being played live. The loop station also contains a lot of preset minimal backing beats, samples and basslines that I trigger when necessary. I also play with a live drummer so we work together as a two-piece building and adding texture to the songs as we perform them.
If you saw a reader and they told you you were the reincarnation of a former famous creative… who would you want to have been?
So many of my creative idols (or creatives in general) were incredibly tortured artists, so I’d like to have been someone like Pablo Picasso – someone who was innovative and revolutionary, but still successful and respected within his own lifetime.
Sin: Head to an OTA show and do those ears and trekking booties a favour! EP is our 10th March, we’ll post links on our Facebook.
OUTSIDE THE ACADEMY: SECOND-GUESSING EP TOUR
SAT 25 FEB | TREEHOUSE, BYRON BAY NSW
THU 09 MAR | NIMBIN HOTEL, NIMBIN NSW
FRI 10 MAR | EMPIRE HOTEL, BRISBANE QLD
TUE 14 MAR | UoN, NEWCASTLE NSW
THU 16 MAR | FRANKIE’S, SYDNEY NSW
SAT 18 MAR | SMITH’S ALTERNATIVE, CANBERRA ACT
SAT 25 MAR | THE RETREAT HOTEL, MELBOURNE VIC