Oum Shatt is a brand new project based in Berlin, offering a peculiar mix of Arabic influences and dark/post-punk atmospheres. The four track debut EP is a slow drowning in melancholic surf guitar riffs, with a remarkable dance attitude and a minimal rhythmic section.
The intense and deep tone of the voice gives the songs a warm and fascinating mood, surrounded by strongly reverberated guitars and ethereal backing vocals. The band soundscapes range from dark ambient melodies (such as the title track) to dance-funk tunes (Hot Hot Cold Cold for example). The way they arranged the tracks, avoiding gaps in the wall of sound, is simply noteworthy: listen to the pads in the background of Madame O. to have an idea.
We asked a few questions to Jonas Poppe, singer of the band, to better understand the project and to discover where this blend of Arabic jingles and dark wave comes from.
According to your page on Bandcamp the band was formed “suddenly in 2012″. But how did you actually end up playing with the other guys? What brought you to start the band?
– I didn’t want to end up alone in my room writing depressive songs. I preferred real drums, a drummer with a golden tooth and a polite guitar player who plays better than me.
Where did the name “Oum Shatt” come from?
– From somewhere in the Tunisian desert. Also it’s attributable to the great Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum.
I find it really interesting the way you use Arabic scales and chromatic guitar licks in your songs. How did you come to this way of playing guitar? Which artist or band inspired you?
– That may seems strange but it’s very natural for me. Maybe I listened too much to Arabic and Turkish music. Then my record player broke and I had to play those licks by myself. There’s a lot of bands or artists that I really like and that might have inspired me. For example the Arabic-American band Devil’s Anvil, the Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid, Les Abranis from Algeria and Les Freres Megri from Morocco. Also many Turkish musicians from the 60s/70s. But I don’t even try to copy them, I just let them visit my mind sometimes. I prefer to look for my own sound.
The sound of the band is strongly connected with the post punk and dark wave scenario, but it seems like there are other hidden influences. If you had to choose a few, which bands/albums do you think gave the inspiration for the Oum Shatt sound?
– For example the Shadows or the Monochrome Set. I tried to be more minimalistic, like early hip hop or electronic productions. The first demos I made had many more samples and synthesizer sounds. But in the process of writing songs I get more inspired by my own music and by my band. Since my record player is broken I can’t listen to music anyway.
Berlin is a melting pot of several music scenes, not only club music but even small indie bands can find the way to breakthrough. What’s your opinion on Berlin and the connected music scenario?
– For sure there’s still a lot going on here. I hope this will last; many good places are closing at the moment due to the high rents. One strange thing I noticed is, that many bands from Berlin are more successful outside of Germany than at home. Unlike UK and France, Germany obviously doesn’t really worship its own music. But Berlin is still one of the best cities for living, I guess.
Oum Shatt will play at Monarch in Berlin for the EP Release Party on September 26. If you’re around I wouldn’t suggest to miss them!