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Interview w/ Opek

By Daniel Koch

"Opek prefers the cozy retirement life over the hectic leasing lifestyle. The beatproducer, drummer and rapper was born in the Ruhr area in 1990. Not on coal and not on gold, but somewhere where there was a computer and a big brother who explained to him around 2004 how ‘Fruity Loops’ works and what a snare is. And then there was hip hop, this thing that can suddenly fill every spare minute. After years of drunken freestyles in the park and nights of producing on Windows 98 computers, he moved on (via excursions into guitar music) to jazz. This wondrous music brought Opek to the Netherlands in 2011, where he devoted himself to the art of jazz drumming for 4 years. After that he landed in Dortmund with empty pockets. Eventhough he was filled with doubt, he kept firing up the machines, even the MPC had a bigger purpose than a doorstop or ashtray holder. Expeditions then took Opek to almost every smoky backstage in Germany and Switzerland, especially as a drummer and producer in the trio ‘Schlakks, Opek & Razzmatazz’. He now shares an office space with ‘Cerm MC’ aka. ‘Cmern’. This is how the joint project ‘Cmern & Opsay’ came into being, where even a serious word about bumpy beats is allowed to fall. The greyness of the city is and remains the inspiration and drive for Opek to create even more cozy sounds. And so he continues to create hits that could be played in a museum in 400 years, provided that the USB sticks will last."


How would you define the start of your music's life journey?

I can only answer this kind of through blurred subjective childhood memories, but what comes first to my mind are my parents listening to The Police, Peter Gabrial, Basque choirs, or some Manu Chao. Because of my 2 older siblings there was also a lot of punk music going on as well. Through some friends of them I got introduced to Hip Hop, I remember that Shurik'n and Wu-Tang being played in someones car. Later on my brother bought me a "Eins Zwo"-Album. With sixteen I discovered my favor for Jazz through my drum teacher.

The 1st of October marks the Release of your Album called "Corners". What can we expect from this one?

"Corners" is the point where two paths meet. I invited some of my favorite Jazz-People for the Album, on every Track someone different stands in the spotlight. You could say: Instrumental Hip Hop meets Jazz but this is not something new, because Hip Hop IS Jazz. I think this Album is so much more. My beats have mostly a melancholic basis with a lot of time and ease in it, but as well with a kind of forward-oriented sight and what makes it so personal is that every of these beats gets his unique touch by the particular Soloist.

How would you explain the creative process behind the Album? Especially when we think about that so many musicians contributed something to "Corners".

With this Album it's like a dream come true. I asked some of my favorite Jazz musicians, with which I already played in the context as Jazz drummer together if they are interested in working with me on this one. There was different creative processes. On "Elevations" I wrote and recorded everything. After that Jonathan Böbel played the trombone on top of that. At this point I want to thank Ifpom in Bochum for letting me use their place for some recording processes. For "Finders, Keepers" with bassist Caris Hermes, I recorded her for like 30 minutes as first and marked some parts which I wanted to loop later on. After that I added the drums and guitar and there it is: finders, keepers. For the last Track on the Album "Out Here" with Jan Alexander on the keys, Jan figured out some chords and the vocals. That's where I added the bass and drums.

Do you have a personal favorite Track of the Album?

No way! Each Track is so special to me, also because on every Track there is another person featured. I couldn't even choose which one I like the most. I think every songs suits a different type of situation. "Copy That" with Tim Bücher is for example something smooth for the day. "The Lighthouse" featuring Julius van Rhee make me somehow instant high and "Codes" with Michi Knippschild is something for the nights to feel some hip hop flavor. I think on the last one I was pretty much inspired of the old RJD2 stuff.

"Corners" will be released via Wadada Records. Would you tell us a little bit about the Label?

Wadada is such a great Label! They have been active since 2016 and are based in Cologne-Ehrenfeld. Somehow they created something really unique through their label work. It's not just Classic-Bap or Chillhop ish, rather something really interesting and absurd instrumental driven, I would say. Wadada is home for great bands and artists like Bokoya, WYL & Blackfriction.

What's the story behind your collaboration with Wadada?

I'm part of Dortmund's "Rekorder"-Club. When there is a concert, sometimes I am the dude for the sound. One day Bokoya and a couple weeks later WYL played gigs at the Rekorder. I got along with them really well. I showed Leon one of the drummers my music and he was so kind to tell Tom of Wadada Records that that he should check this out. Both of them are by the way part of the crossword puzzle on the album cover. Thank you Leon & Tom!

Can you tell us already more about your plans for the future? What's next up after your release?

First of all, I would really love to play my Album live for many people with the musicians that helped me creating it. I think this album can exploit it's full potential live. That would be interesting to hear, for sure.

Speaking of the Album, I'm definitely in to do the next LP very soon. Most likely intrsumental driven again, something energetic, or abstract. Maybe with some guests as well. We'll see! I think not only myself has evolved but also the crowd is more open minded for some experiments. I love to see that! I also would love to make an Disco-Album with DJ Razzmatazz. I'll definitely continue to keep producing for musicians and rappers that I personally like, record absurd movies and do the music for that. Being on the road with Schlakks. Well, there is so much more to mention.


Opek's Album "Corners" releases October 1st via Wadada Records. You can stream the Album or purchase the limited LP via Bandcamp. Stream & Download:

"Paths meet at the corner. People have a drink and talk at the corner. The point where two paths meet is more than a linear function. The X marks the point where two ideas meet, sometimes worlds meet, cosmoses meet, or maybe just two people meet.

Drummer and producer Opek couldn’t have made this album alone, nor would he have wanted to, because the magic comes from collaboration.

For the album ‘Corners’, Opek invited some of his favorite musicians from the Ruhr area for each and every track. Sometimes the guests were invited as soloists (Julius van Rhee on ‘The Lighthouse’), sometimes he recorded an artist for hours just to find the perfect bass loop (Caris Hermes on ‘Finders Keepers’). The result is an intimate mixture of noisy instrumental hip hop and honest jazz. Check your corner(s)!“


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