deadwords » interviews 19.11.2012
Otem Rellik – Music to feel better

After four albums, the name Otem Rellik should definitely ring a bell. On October 4th the Canadian producer and poet released his fourth and newest album entitled “Blood Bone Piano”. But how do those dreamlike songs come to life? Where does Otem Rellik take his inspiration from? And why is “Blood Bone Piano” exclusively released as a digital Download? We had the chance to ask Otem Rellik those and many more questions. Read on to get a peek at Otem Relliks genius…

DEAD: First of all: Congratulations on your new album “Blood Bone Piano”. What does the title “Blood Bone Piano” mean?

Otem Rellik: Thank you. Honestly, the title just kind of came out of me one day and I thought it sounded cool. It sounds like a Tom Waits album title to me. I knew I wanted “piano” in the title as a lot of songs are piano heavy. The “Blood Bone” came from the fact that this is probably the most personal album I have ever made. I usually have a title in mind about mid way though creating an album. After I had the title, I wrote the title track “Blood Bone Piano” to kind of summarize the whole mood and theme of the album.

DEAD: The album includes much more singing than your other records. Has your working process been different as you focused more on singing instead of rapping?

Otem Rellik: Not really. I never really think about whether I’m going to sing or rap on a song. I usually just create the music and see what mood it puts me in. Then I start writing to it and see what seems more appropriate. The singing on this album was more of a reaction to all the slow sad bastard music I was recording at the time. It wasn’t really driven by any percussion which is what usually makes me want to rap on something.

DEAD: In “Blood Bone Piano” you end with the words “I learned how this fall might benefit me”. Would you say that negative feelings inspire you musically?

I’ve pretty much always made music to make myself feel better.

Otem Rellik: Definitely. I’ve pretty much always made music to make myself feel better. I’ve never really made happy songs. This is something I actually really want to work on. Right now my life is really good, I have a solid job, I’m living in an awesome city and I’m in a amazing relationship. Unfortunately that has given me almost nothing to write about. I’m trying to learn how to pull inspiration out other things now. More observational stuff I guess.

DEAD: Do you sometimes rap or sing about things you would never talk about in real life?

Otem Rellik: Not at all. I’m a pretty open book, with my music and in person. The things I write about aren’t necessarily things I would ever bring up in conversation, but that’s not because I am scared to talk about them, it’s just kind of a strange conversation to have. If they are subjects or ideas I feel strongly enough to put into songs, I’m definitely willing to talk about them.  Sometimes strangers will ask me about my lyrics at shows or online and I’m always happy to engage them.

DEAD: “Blood Bone Piano” is your second album that is exclusively released as a digital download. What led to this decision to not make a physical version?

Otem Rellik: I honestly don’t think I’m ever going to put out a physical cd again. The format just seems completely obsolete to me. I haven’t touched a cd in years. Everything is digital these days and pressing up Cd’s to me is just creating more useless plastic. I do want to put something out on vinyl someday. A record makes for a completely different listening experience for me. When I listen to records I like to read liner notes and check out the artwork. Generally with cds, people just rip the disc and then everything else gets tucked away in a closet. Also, the only money I spent on this album was getting it mastered, I didn’t have to drop $1,200 to make one thousand coasters.

DEAD: Do you listen to your records once they are released or do you have to step away from them?

Otem Rellik: I usually listen to them once after the release date and then step away. By the time an album is done, I’ve probably been working on it for around 3 years. That is a lot of time to be listening to the same 10 or 13 songs. After a couple years I sometimes go back through my old stuff. It always brings up memories and sometimes I’m surprised and impressed with what I have done. Sometimes I get ideas from my older work. I also like to grab little bits of lyrics from old albums and sprinkle them into the new songs I’m working on.

DEAD: Imagine you are in front of your computer with a blank window in a digital audio workstation. How do get started? Do you just jingle around or do you try to find a concept?

I just start something and see where it takes me.

Otem Rellik: I’m almost always just jingling around, mostly not on a computer though. I usually start playing around with a keyboard or guitar or some circuit bent thing I have laying around. The minute I have something worth recording though I’ll fire up cubase. Just the other day I got the itch and started playing with my circuit bent Casio PT-87 which  is totally un-tunable and random. I got this cool synth lead coming out of it so I made a quick sample on my sp-303 (which was covered in about as much dust as the PT-87). Then I decided I wanted to try to make something with just the SP-303 and no computer, which is how I first started making music. So I ended up with this pretty nice beat and it was a lot of fun messing with that hardware that I hadn’t touched for a while. So yeah, that is pretty much my process, I just start something and see where it takes me.  Whenever I have an actual idea of how I want something to sound it usually turns out completely different, which can be good or really frustrating.

DEAD: Now, after “Blood Bone Piano” and two music videos, what are your plans for the near future?

Otem Rellik: Well I’m already working on a possible third music video for one of the songs on BBP. I’m kind of getting a little burnt out on video stuff lately though so I may take a break from that. Winter is coming and that is usually when I end up writing a lot. I already have music for about four new songs, I just need to start writing lyrics. I think the next album is going to have a lot more rap and upbeat songs, I have no idea when it will be finished though. Other than that, I’d like to play more shows and just keep doing what I love.

DEAD: Thanks a lot for the interview. Do you have any final words for our readers?

Otem Rellik: Thanks guys, hopefully I will be back in Europe someday, I appreciate all the support. And thank you to all my fans and everyone who picked up the album!