By Kevin Zimmerman
Oberhofer's Relentless Art
Being a much-buzzed about artist doesn’t seem to faze Brad Oberhofer, the 21-year-old figure who performs and records as, simply, Oberhofer. (“I think just my last name sounds better,” he explains.) Even though it’s been a fairly quick ascent from making recordings by himself in his basement and mailing them to blogs to employing a full band and, on March 26, releasing the debut album Time Capsules II, he continues to maintain the same unpretentious, laid-back style he always has.
Favorably compared to the likes of MGMT, Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend for his warped, sometimes symphonic approach to rhythmic synth-pop – dotted with waggish song titles like “o0Oo0Oo” and “Smylez” -- Oberhofer is on an eternal quest to express himself through music.
“I’m basically writing all the time,” he says. “It’s never not happening. I try to do things that are inspiring. I might try to stand on my head for an extended period of time, or not sleep for a day or two, to see if it will cause me to see things in a different way.”
That freedom to experiment with his craft has remained a constant. Although opera remains an untapped resource, at least so far (his mother was an opera singer), he’s gone from freestyle rapping as a young teenager before moving on to guitar at 16, picking up keyboards shortly after and delivering tunes catchy enough to impress those blogs (and garner label attention); he says working with the band onstage and in the studio has further developed his interest in more complicated and spacious forms.
Oberhofer maintains that the live setting is the most important for him. “It’s not so much audience feedback, though,” he says. “It’s more about the idea of playing it for people, doing it like they did in the past, traveling around telling stories.”
That connection with the past is underscored by the titles he offers as current iPod obsessions: George Gershwin’s Concerto in F (“really crazy; it sounds so modern and western, but with these beautiful melodies that only happen sporadically”) and Ravel (“maybe my favorite composer right now”), especially his solo piano piece “Jeux d’eau.”
“That’s maybe my favorite piece of music of all time,” he says, though he playfully adds, “I don’t think I should explain it. People should research it on their own.”