Andy Ozbolt made an impression on me the moment he mentioned that he’d actually built his harp before he’d learnt to play it. With his debut release out next month, we thought it high time we pick this multi-disciplinarian musician’s brain.
N: How did you end up playing the Celtic Harp?
Coming from piano and drums, I always wanted to learn a third instrument. I couldn’t express myself fully on those two. I wanted to work with strings… it felt more dynamic… there seemed to be more variety for expression of sound. But because I’m ambidextrous, guitar just wasn’t working for me – not an inch!
I was at a festival where I wandered over to a harp maker’s stand. I found myself hanging out there for a while, having a play, plucking a few strings. It was too expensive for a student. We got chatting and the guy offered to teach me how to carve my own. I stayed in his Austrian village for a couple of weeks to do just that.
For a while though the harp just felt like an expensive deco object. I was still into rock music at the time and for two years it just sat there. Around 20, I started to write my own folk music. I wrote songs on the piano but noticed that I could just play guitar -picking patterns on the harp. It suddenly became more relevant for me. Then when I moved to Berlin, I met some experimental musicians who really threw me into the deep end. I had to deliver a variety of weird sounds on the harp, and it suddenly became my main instrument. So after carving it, it slowly grew into my life. It wasn’t like the big love of my life.
“Turned out I’d made it worse for myself because I’d always over - produce demos. I’d generated this larger than life image, which I wasn’t able to realize live.”
I still shift a lot. I mostly play harp and drums. But I also play the piano. I play drums in bands, but on the keys I do most synthesizer and studio stuff. I’m releasing my debut album in November and am doing more solo shows where the harp features.
N: Tell us about this album.
It’s the most personal and intimate work I’ve done so far. The songs were collected over a couple of years and are all about personal relationships and meaningful moments. But it’s also the first time I’ve stripped away all the layers that do not define me. When I was more insecure, I used to hide behind layers of orchestra, piano, guitar and other effects. This time it’s just the harp and my voice - live - in a room. The album is 45 min of my true expression in the moment and I’m committing to that. It was a huge task for me as I was always insecure about my voice because I had a lisp as a kid so I never identified as a singer. Then it was the pitch and expression that were a problem. Turned out I’d made it worse for myself because I’d always over - produce demos. I’d generated this larger than life image that I wasn’t able to realize live. That kind of messes with your sense of self…which is why it became really important for me to make this album.
N: What does a perfect weekend look like for you?
I just had a perfect weekend… I was in the Czech republic with a band called Tau.
We were playing shows at this busking festival and we slept in this amazing hotel from the 1890’s. There was this epic girls’ choir called Neha there and we hung out… went to the silent disco and a jam session together. We just had the most amazing time, making music in the sun, connecting with the most amazing people, exploring the Czech countryside…
In Berlin, I like long days at Leibnitzsee with friends. There’s this one tree that’s snapped off into the lake where we like to laze, picnic on and read Tarot cards.
Andy, of course, proceeded to read my Tarot, hesitantly at first but in the end with remarkable poignancy.
Find his music at: