I AM OAK – Interview

Manchmal ist es schön eine Musik-Homepage zu führen, bekommt man doch nicht nur massig Spam ins virtuelle Postfach, sondern manchmal auch Mails, die einen dazu bringen wundervolle musikalische Projekte kennenzulernen, die einem ansonsten vielleicht entgangen wären. Aktuelles Beispiel: I am Oak, auf die wir auf diesem Weg aufmerksam wurden. Praktisch auch noch, da wir dadurch direkt den Ansprechpartner für ein Mail-Interview zur Hand hatten – was wir uns nach dem Hören des wundervollen aktuellen Albums ‘Oasem‘, das nicht zu Unrecht Vergleiche zu Größen wie Bon Iver, Sufian Stevens, Iron & Wine und Co aufwirft. Frontmann Thijs Kuijken stellte sich unseren Fragen – I am Oak im Bedroomdisco Interview!

1.) Band facts

Name: I am Oak
Band members: 5
Founding year: 2008
Residence: Utrecht, Netherlands
Current album: Oasem

2.) Questionnaire:

How did you start making music – had you been forced to play an instrument somehow or was it in your own interest? What was the occasion?
I wanted to learn how to play the guitar to rock out like Guns ‘n Roses and Nirvana did.

Do you remember the first song you’ve ever written? What was it about, do you remember a line of it?
Song title: “Heart attack”. Line from song: “Heart attack! Heart attack!” I was about 11 and me and some of my friends wanted to make a hard-core/punk song.

How did you get together as a band?
Some I’ve met after moving to Utrecht and some I’ve known from where I grew up.

In which situation did you came up with the name ‘I Am Oak’, why did you choose it and what meaning has it for you?
When I was a kid I once was climbing a tree and fell from it and got a wood splinter (oak wood) stuck into the bottom of my food. It was in there for a long time, so I felt like I was part Oak. I thought of that story when I was looking for a band name.

How do you normally work on songs? What are the steps/processes, what are the usual problems of finishing a song?
I get a lot of ideas. Short snippets of melodies and chords, riffs, whatever and piece them together into songs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Common problems can be finding the right structure for a song or not being able to find the right lyrics.

You released ‘Oasem’ only one year after the previous record, when did you write the new songs? How come that you released two records in such a short period?
After I finished ‘On Claws’ I just continued writing songs, after a while some of those songs started to form a connection, then I wrote some more songs to complement those other songs and that became ‘Oasem’. When a record is done it’s best to release it, I guess. It will not make you happy if you have to let it rest for ages. You will lose interest eventually.

Could you tell about about the production process of ‘Oasem’? How long did it take, where did it happen, what were the difficulties, how did you prepare for it? What was the best, what the worst moment? Most told anecdote?
It is not very exciting. I recorded it at home in my spare time over the period of about 5 or 6 months. It was written as it was recorded or vise versa, so there was no preparation or planning involved. I’d work on it whenever I felt like it.

‘Horizon II’ is one of our favorite songs – can you tell us what it is about, how it was done and if there is a story behind it?
It’s the end of the journey. I went through all of this stuff from the first horizon over to the second. The ‘blanket of rain’ line might sound a little grim, but it’s actually meant as a cleansing thing. In the end I basically find out I will not find what I am looking for. And I have realized I probably never will, so it’s okay. It’s all about being able to look for it.

At which point did you know that the record is finished?
I don’t remember. Finishing an album is a weird thing. You can always do something else to it, but at some point you’ll just feel when it’s there.

Which development do you see in your music and songwriting from ‘On Claws’ to ‘Oasem’?
I think it has matured and become even more ‘me’ than it was before.

In what situations do you write songs/lyrics? Which themes do inspire you to write songs?
I don’t know. It’s about me. It’s best to keep it close to yourself, I think.

As the new record is out since a few months and you released ‘Oasem’ so fast after ‘On Claws’ – are there already plans for a new album/for new songs?
Last Winter we recorded an album’s worth of songs as a band. It’s the first recorded stuff where the (live) band actually plays their own instruments and got to be involved in the arrangements, so I was and still am very excited about that. We still have to finish it up though. It will be released in 2012.

What are your next plans?
So, like I mentioned in the previous question: finishing up on the new album. And write some new songs of course! I feel like it’s been ages..

What are you doing if your not making music?
Accounting and interviews.. No one warned me for that when I started a band! But, seriously, right now I’m working on some album artwork jobs and I am still trying to get my educational obligations on track so I can graduate at the end of the year!

What did you learn in 2011 up to know?
A lot I’m sure.

Your Top 3 records of 2011 up to know? Why?
Oh, I’m bad at this.. I don’t really keep up that much anymore. I think I’m still in 2010 mostly. But I can think of some interesting albums from 2011:

Little Wings – Black Grass
Been a big fan for years, but this is the best of him yet. I keep mentioning this whenever I’m asked about new albums I listen to. Partly because it is reaally good, but also because I didn’t really listen to any other 2011 releases for a while.

Burzum – Fallen
I had never really associated Metal with beauty before. But this is very beautiful in a dark and disturbing way.

Feist – Metals
A very recent one. I have never liked Feist, but I listened to the new album a couple of times now and it’s pretty, pretty good.

Honorable mention (because it’s an EP and not an album, and because they should be honored):

LUIK – Are You Lonesome Tonight
One of my favorite bands from NL. Google it! They will release a full length next year! Looking forward to it!

Which song would fit to your actual situation?
Mount Eerie – Between Two Mysteries
I have just returned from a small tour. I was just getting into the not-having-to-think-about-much-except-performing-each-night-vibe, but now I’m back home again already.. So I’m sort of in between the ‘performance mode’ and ‘normal mode’ vibe at the moment. Between two mysteries.

Which song makes you dance independent of your situation?
None that I know of. I will encounter it one day I’m sure. When I least expect it.

How would your “Bedroomdisco” look like?

Who did fill out this questionnaire?


Bedroomdisco-Gründer, Redaktions-Chef, Hans in allen Gassen, Golden Leaves Festival Booker, Sammler, Fanboy, Exil-Darmstädter Wahl-Hamburger & happy kid, stuck with the heart of a sad punk - spreading love for great music since '08!

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