A new look at European Tradition – A chat with Punda Omar


“Musicians (in Austria) have started to be less self-conscious because they know what they do is worth being presented” – Punda Omar. 

Punda Omar has been busy again, recently releasing the first of  a trio of Eps as part of the European Folklore EP series. The first is called Central North and is a typically atmospheric collection of ethereal electro tunes to lose yourself to. We managed to get hold of the artist himself ahead of his gig in Rhiz this Monday night (14.07) to find out a bit more about the man behind the music.

Central North is Punda Omar’s 3rd release after the masterful Eps stetptc and stetpiseen of 2013. More information and music here: Bandcamp /// Twitter 

You have been rather mysterious with your music and name, where does the name Punda Omar come from and what made you want to make music under this moniker? 
It’s always been important for me to draw a clear line between me as a person and the music to stand for itself. So it was clear I was going to have to find a moniker. And then I was looking for something that could pass for a first+surname. That’s all really.
What are your musical influences and how long have you been making music?
I have been making music since I was a teenager and I have played in bands ever since. punda omar is the first time decisions are all up to myself. As far as influences are concerned I would not go genre-wise or artist-wise. I guess there are two major mechanisms that have strong influence on what I am doing. First is discovering (or at least supposedly discovering) musical mechanisms/concepts in one field and trying to transfer these to a different context. To give an example – in orchestral music there is something like “agogic”, that is pushing forward and again delaying the musical flow as it happens. This is a mechanism I find extremely fascinating, which is why I have been trying to find an equivalent to classical “agogic” in terms of electronic music ever since. The second major part is of course inspiration on a solely emotional level, but lets not get into this.


You just brought out the brilliantly atmospheric EP Central North, the first of another trilogy, European Folklore. Where did you get the inspiration for the tracks and the rather specific titles? 
I have always been envious of musicians who can work with “their” folklore or tradition, whatever you want to call it, on an unpretentious, subtle and above all unproblematic (!) way (content wise) – we all know the usual suspects from Iceland etc. who do this brilliantly.
So my aim was to take elements or concepts I like about certain traditional european music and transfer it to a new context. Does not sound to spectacular as a concept, I know, but the essential point was to let these elements or concepts seem authentic in the new context they were put in. That is not letting them stick out by for instance using some samples and then build a beat around them, but rather weave them in more deeply. And thats what I tried here. You’ll find elements like chord structures, melodic lines or rhythmic borrowings from traditional material from Finland through to the Alps.
What are the 3 essential things you personally need to have with you/around you before you start writing/recording a song?
Most of the thinking happens as I do other things like ride the tram or eat lunch, but when it comes to realizing ideas instruments play an important role, especially the haptic aspect. I like my synths above all my korg polysix, my machinedrum and, you might have guessed, my vocoder.
You are playing in Rhiz on Monday night and have played there before. What is it about the cult club that makes band want to play there so often? 
I like the place itself, I like the people there. It combines the feel of a little music club with that of a bar where you could also just go and have a drink. And of course the programme stands for itself.
Your music is available on Bandcamp for free. why have you decided to give you music away for free rather than charging a fee like quite a lot of small bands do these days?
The issue of distribution 2014 is almost too big to discuss here, but I guess at the end of the day it is the opportunity to share stuff without any barrier (even if the barrier is only 99 cents) combined with the fact that at the moment – realistically speaking – it is simply not worth the hassle.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any other gig dates planned?
Yes I will be playing at parque del sol/lames on 1 august with wolf pilat doing a light installation.
How would you describe the Austrian music scene at the moment? Are there any bands out there which you think should be getting more attention than they currently are?
I agree with what most people have been saying over the last years and that is, that it has developed into a very lively, extremely interesting scene. There are more people involved than ever – not only musicians, but also performing artists and also the world around, like bloggers, venues, festivals etc. – and that is reflected by the quality of the output. I guess musicians here have also started to be less self-conscious because they know what they do is worth being presented. I recommend giving lichtriss a listen.