Outside the Academy Melbourne gig Sunday 28 December
Outside the Academy
Former Melbourne based artist 'Outside the Academy' a.k.a. producer Pawel Cholewa (pronounced Pavelle Holiver), will be back on home turf in December to perform at The Grace Darling on Sunday 28 December. It's the last stop for his east coast tour, a homecoming of sorts. Playing on the same bill are Nonagon (triphop\synthhop DJ) and Pensive Penguin who describe themselves as 'quirk rock'.
Outside the Academy started in 2007 or 2008 when Cholewa was studying at Monash University. He explains, "it was all just about recording and collaborating on experimental music at that time, and me and the other member were living quite close to the campus." The name quite literally means "being or situating oneself outside the campus/academy (as well as its experimental connotations, which I guess, were imbued later on)." After collaborating with a number of different musicians and playing in a variety of different bands over the years, "it just made sense for me to become self-sufficient after a while. The bands always inevitably disbanded or dispersed and/or connections between musicians gradually fizzled out."
Cholewa had always harboured a desire to live in Queensland "for the weather. I applied to do my PhD at a number of different universities along the coast, and I was lucky enough to be offered a place at CQU in/around the Rockhampton region." For now, he is based in Yeppoon, and looking to move "to Brisbane next year, for the music scene." OTA took some time out from his research and home studio to delve deeper into his world.
From the comforting beats of 'Jiving' that wrap you in a soothing journey, to the Cure-esque guitars that creep up on you in Rebels (Revels) Cholewa knows how to grip you with his masterful layering and pierce the blissful, melancholic darkness with his vocals. The paradox in his music is sublime, eerie compositions laced with electronics; it's music that is aching to be the married to a David Lynch flick. As Robert Smith stated in an interview recently, "When you leave holes, you can peer through and hear things—even things that aren't actually there." In a parallel experimental universe he could well be surmising OTA.
Question: Talk me through the composition in your song Rebel (Revels). How did you construct all the layering and what are the lyrics centred on? This track really struck a chord with me, and I'm keen to understand the exploration through it.
I've had 'Rebel (Revels)' in the back of my mind for a very long time. First I had the bass line with which I played around with various guitar riffs, licks and melodies for ages. Then the chorus came a little later. Originally it was a song I was rehearsing/constructing with a band I had before OTA so the instruments were pretty raw – it is, I think, and at the end of the day, more of an indie/rock band kind of jam. But I think that the bass line is strong enough that it can be made into something semi-electronic too.
When it comes to recording music I can get pretty overexcited, hyperactive, impatient and overstimulated, so the layering is often all over the place, but because I had this song in my mind for so long, I had an extremely long period of time to think about how I was eventually going to record it. I knew going in which effects I was going to use, how much reverb, feedback, delay, distortion, etc. so when I did finally sit down to record it was done pretty quickly (3 hours or so).
Ahhh ... the lyrics are about that outwardly invasive in-your-face/privately self-conscious and insecure person we all know and that we seem to see out from time to time 'in da club'. I won't say much more than that. There's a pretty frustrating negative sentiment there.
Question: Why did you choose the track 'Jiving' to debut from 'Outside the Academy' EP?
I'm not sure which song is the debut. 'Jiving' came first – it was the catalyst for this EP. But I haven't decided on an official 'single' yet. To me it makes sense for 'Rebel (Revels)' to be the debut/single. It's the only song on the EP with a consistent chorus, and it's the 'catchiest' also. But I really don't know.
Question: 'Experimental' as a genre is not ventured into as frequently as say, Indie rock or Folk. I recently spoke to George Kalpa (Melbourne) and Lore City (Chicago) and they both discussed the level of flexibility and nostalgia this allows them (both experimental). What for you are the personal challenges and loves of this music?
Experimental music is unpredictable – it pushes the envelope's parameters, which is extremely important for any musician who is trying to be progressive or 'futuristic'. I somewhat agree with the nostalgia element but I agree with the flexibility aspect even more. I love listening to music that I hate to begin with, and then after a few weeks or months I finally figure out what the artist or bands obscured, hidden or abstracted intentions were. It becomes so satisfying – an enigmatic secret that you've managed to discover and unlock, which is just the biggest treat!
Question: How does it allow you to express that another style could not? I brought these guys up, as your music does that same thing, it's not quite 'transcendental' so to speak, but 'transports' you in an ethereal way (like Lore City), but still holds vocal impact like Kalpa. I say that particularly after listening to 'Monsoon' – love this! Quick tempos and soaring vocals are a chillingly brilliant combination.
It's certainly a risky territory; very easily hit and miss. It's a genre that has a real capacity to surprise you as well. When Malozan and I completed 'Monsoon' we disregarded it as kind of s**t. It was too hectic/all over the shop. We'd sat down with the intention to compose a song and after three different tedious and exhausting sessions we came out with three different songs we thought we'd clumsily stuck together in some kind of chaotic medley. It wasn't until we partially dismissed the song and then showed it to some friends six months later that we realised it actually kind of worked.
Doors: 6:30pm. Cost: $10 entry (includes a copy of the OTA EP) Event Page/Tour link: https://www.facebook.com/events/300788960111205/?fref=ts
Connect with Outside the Academy: https://soundcloud.com/outsidetheacademyhttps://www.facebook.com/OutsideTheAcademyhttps://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/outside-academy-0https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=118zEpfd5KM