Local Rockstars: Olaf Stuut's rip-roaring rollercoaster ride

Local Rockstars: Olaf Stuut’s rip-roaring rollercoaster ride

Nov 21, 2013 |  by  |  Music
About the author
Mark Visbeek is a designer, musician, superstar, and loves illeism. Always looking to create beautiful things, I'm often distracted by the amazing stuff happening around me. My most important weapons are limitless amounts of love and a faux-French accent.

Whether you went out last weekend to check out an uber-geeky beat magician or a depressingly awesome indie rock band, we all know there’s always some serious musical talents rocking around the Dam. You might not recognize them all yet, but don’t worry, you will soon. In this series of interviews we talk to remarkable artists about their music and their inspirations.

Undoubtedly you’ve heard his name buzzing around: Olaf Stuut. He released his debut album Equilibre this year and is rockin’ it up all over town. I sat down with the man for a chat, and he granted us the privilege to première the brand-new video for ‘Siren’ exclusively here on Overdose.am.

Olaf, the first time I saw you play live was about a year and a half ago in the small room of Chicago Social Club. A lot has happened since then. Can you walk us through the last two years?
“Well for starters, I’ve been making loads of music. Since 2 years I’ve been working under my own name. I wanted to create emotional, thrilling and creative music of the electronic kind. The exact genre wasn’t that important to me, I’ve tried my best to find my own way in the universe of electronic music.”

“In early 2012 my debut release came out, a remix for the notorious Minilogue on TRAUM Schallplatten, not a bad start at all. I was so excited when I heard the news that I started immediately and made the track in a couple of days. Two weeks later I released a four track EP on a small Italian label called Rhapsodic Records. It got great feedback, especially from Joris Voorn who used it in a Cocoon Heroes Mix, even as the opener! Obviously that motivated me even more, so I started working on more music, released 2 EPs after that on Zaubernuss, a sublabel of TRAUM, and MANUAL MUSIC. Short after, I started working on my debut album and my next EP with title track ‘Siren’, with which I won the Vinylized contest. And between these, all the fun gigs of course! I guess that sums it up pretty much.”

That’s a lot of output in just two years. What did you do before this?
“I’ve played in several bands, as a guitarist, keys player and even singer, haha. The last band I was in was called ‘Galaxy Allstars’ which was an electronic-funk band, an homage to the P-Funk in a more modern approach. I was also part of an electro duo called ‘El Moustache’. All very fun, but I wasn’t as dedicated as I am now, mostly because I was still searching what I wanted to achieve with my music.”

I can’t work from anger or frustration.

So, where do you find your inspiration?
“Of course there’s lots of artist that motivate and inspire me in a lot of ways, but frankly most of them aren’t in the electronic music scene of today. If I have to name a few inspirations –which is just a fraction of the total– it comes down to jazz, funk names like Billy Cobham, George Duke, John Coltrane, Zapp & Roger, but also from the rock-scene; Yes, Pink Floyd. From Fela Kuti to Claude Debussy to Röyksopp and all the way back. What enables me to make music the most though, is serenity; when I’m at ease and I don’t have a lot of stress, my creativity flows best. I can’t work from anger or frustration.”

Where do you get this serenity? Do you wait for it, or do you create it for yourself?
“Other music can give me that serenity. But if I have major problems in my life, I have to take care of that first, or at least learn to accept it in a way so I can sit behind my instruments with a clear mind and let the creativity flow.”

How long did you work on your album?
“I guess that would be around one year, but that goes on and off. Sometimes you have to let a piece rest to see what it really means to a person emotionally. I guess that’s one thing that makes a good artist, to be able to hear something like it’s the first time you hear it. Often that can be achieved by letting it alone, so it can speak to you at a later point in time. Of course there’s many stages in creating a whole album, but I think creatively speaking I made it in about six months.”

Isn’t it hard to leave tracks alone when you’ve just created them?
“It is definitely, but at some point you feel you’re almost done with the creative process, and from there it becomes easier to let it rest. And I will always ask for feedback from friends. I don’t mind in what stage my work is, I like to hear what other people think.”

I like to really listen to the music, to experience each and every detail in it.

The album plays as a continuous mix. What’s the story you’re trying to tell?
“I’m not really a purist regarding sound itself, but more in the way that I believe you should always listen to an album or EP in one movement. When there’s a house party with music playing from YouTube, people will play a fragment of the song they want to hear and then skip to the next one, instead of embracing the moment and letting the music take over your entire being. The artist meant it to be a sequence; it’s not always just separate tracks, but a story as one. That’s what I wanted to reach, that idea of different chapters into one odyssey. The choice to link all the tracks together and make one fluent storyline seemed logical to me with that information.”

That explains why the tracks are not typical club bangers. How do you let music take over your entire being, if it’s not by dancing? What do you imagine people are doing when listening to your music?
“When I listen to music, be it electronic, acoustic or classical, I like to really listen to the music, to experience each and every detail in it. This way you become the music and feel how it was intended or what the artist was feeling or trying to tell. That can be done through dancing in a club, but I also want to give people the chance to lay down on the couch and experience it in a cosy environment, to be comfortable and enjoy the music to the fullest, the way I enjoy making it.”

So we have the privilege of exclusively presenting your new video. Who made it? Tell me about how it came to be.
“This video is for a new EP I made for Atomnation called ‘Siren’, with a remix by Dauwd. It’s made by Jack Fitzgerald. I’ve recently met Jack, he’s a video artist and illustrator, and he got in touch with me because he wanted to use my music in some of his animations. And here we are, he made a great piece which really accompanies the music, so I’m very grateful and happy with the result. It’s some kind of surrealistic, black and white view on modern society.”

“The circle always comes back in my artwork and videos, so in this video too. It symbolises a simple way to perceive eternity, which comes back in many factors of life. I see the circle as the perfect shape defining everything. Even the most simple sine wave from an oscillator is a circle, all its variations are sums of more sines, more circles accumulated. I could talk about it much longer, but I would only be going around in circles.”

What will 2014 bring you?
“A lot of collaborations, that’s for sure! And I hope a lot of development and progress in my music. I don’t really have plans for a second album yet, but that will always be in the back of my head, so if the concept gets clearer and the puzzle fits together maybe that’ll be my priority next year. Besides that I hope 2014 leads me to more beautiful things and moments!”

Lastly, you’re playing with Fairmont at PRISMA in Studio 80 next month. Looking forward?
“Yes really excited for that one! Can’t wait to play there alongside Fairmont, but also Mattheis who makes great music too. I think it’ll be a very nice night in Amsterdam, and I’m proud to be part of it!”

Photography by dp51.nl

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