Review of ‘Solutionism’ by John Walters.
After hearing Outside The Academy’s (Pawel Cholewa) new single ‘Solutionism’ from his upcoming Ep ‘Second Guessing’, written and produced by the multi-instrumentalist himself, you can easily assume that Pawel is nothing short of a genius.
You can almost see this track being played in a cinematic piece behind Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive”, or a British teen drama such as ‘Kidulthood’.
Its punchy bass lines and manipulated guitar sounds drive this song, from its ethereal intro, to its dancy chorus, this is a true genre bender combining alt-rock elements with a dance vibe and some breakbeats in the chorus. I can’t help but get this Bloc Part/Joy Division/Red Riders vibe from the whole track.
Pawel is doing a country wide tour across Australia, with a generous free entry to every gig for his upcoming Ep Launch, it’s highly recommended to get along to this one, I can expect somewhat of an electric storm from this guy live. Music Injection Australia
Hi Pawel, thanks for your time to answer a few questions.
This is your second EP, “Second Guessing’, is this title related to your first EP?
Yeah, I guess it’s an ‘attempt’ at being ‘clever’. But no, the second EP has essentially nothing to do with the first EP. It’s a completely different sound. And the first EP has no acoustic drums at all. “Second-Guessing” largely refers to the extremely lengthy process of revision, editing and reconstruction of a lot of the songs on the EP, some of which have been recorded and re-recorded up to four times, in OTA or in other projects, over several years. So the title of the EP relates to the fluctuating nature of the songs, as well as my own indecisive temperament at times.
I do like your sound as within one song it changes just when I did not expect a change. Was it your intention to almost squash for the want of a better word all the music together?
Do you mean in the song Stray? Because yeah, Stray is quite squashed. It’s essentially three songs smushed together. Stray was just a massive production job of adding and layering and adding and layering ad infinitum. I doubt we will ever find a way to play it live. But generally most of my songs revolve around one particular loop or progression, and then textures are added over the top of that until some kind of cohesive pattern is found.
You have your own sound, but the Joy Division fan in me noticed a little of them. Were you influenced by them?
For sure! Though maybe not intentionally. Perhaps there’s just a whole bunch of musos out there that have a dark Ian Curtis side to them? And I do admire much of his poetry and perspective, so if that comes to the forefront a little bit in my music then I’m glad. However, maybe you’re referring to the comparability of the bass guitar sound in Solutionism? In which case, that may have been incidental; the only bass guitar I own is a terribly crappy one that was found in a Coles carpark years ago. I’ve never serviced it either, so naturally that gives my bass sounds a pretty raw and fuzzy tonality.
Any other influences you can mention?
Some of the obvious ones are Kaki King, Kevin Parker, Grizzly Bear, D.D Dumbo, Daniel Johns, The Presets, Radiohead and James Murphy. And then perhaps some of the less obvious ones are Gravenhurst, Anton Newcombe, The Acid, I’lls, WhoMadeWho and Big Fat Kill.
Your artwork is great! Did you have a say on the type of photos that you wanted? Or did David Schermann come up with the concept?
I was actually the one who reached out to David about using his existing photos. I was perusing through the net and found his brilliant material that I just thought worked so well with our songs, sound and style. He agreed. And that was that!
Solutionism is your first track off your EP, will you be playing any others in your upcoming Aussie tour?
We will be playing all of the songs off the EP. This EP is made up of my favourite OTA songs at the moment, and my favourite songs to play live also. So yes, definitely. We play quite a few from the first EP too, but they change a lot in our live performances.
You have made all the shows entry free, which is admirable, what were your reasons behind that?
It worked out that way coincidentally! It just so happened that all the venues we approached always host free entry live music nights. It was merely a lovely accident of chance.
How do you get that full ensemble like presence yet maintain your own identity? The sound is just amazing.
Thank you for the kind words! The main thing I use and need is a loop station, in which I record a main guitar riff, progression or vocal melody of any song being played live. The loop station also contains a lot of preset minimal backing beats, samples and basslines that I trigger when necessary. I also play with a live drummer so we work together as a two-piece building and adding texture to the songs as we perform them.
Is there a music video on the way for Solutionism? I enjoyed watching Rebels and seeing you live.
We’re hopefully working on something with some digital media students at CQU soon. Otherwise, I’ll definitely get something going with some of my more tech-savvy friends once I get back to Melbourne in March.
What will be next for you after this tour?
Finishing my god damned PhD hopefully, finally! As for OTA, I think we will definitely need to expand by adding more/new members. I would like to start collaborating a lot more, rather than simply being one guy overly meticulously constructing sounds solitarily in his bedroom. I’ve done that for long enough now. I would love to open up the door and invite others in to join the process.
I wish you all best Pawel.
Thank you very much!