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Associate Maker Oceanic talks us through his favourite work, his duo with Greetje Bijma

Oceanic on his duo with Greetje Bijma

From 2021-24 we’re assembling a group of sixteen Associate Makers who’ll make and create works for the musicians of Stichting Ensemble Klang. The Associate Makers come from multiple disciplines and backgrounds and are an integral part of our organisation, giving shape to our output for the coming years. We asked each of our Associate Makers about their own favourite work. Here, Oceanic (Job Oberman) talks about
his ongoing project with Greetje Bijma.

My collaboration with the vocal artist Greetje Bijma is an ongoing project, started in May 2018. It encompasses a record called Swallow A Party and a series of live shows.

Greetje Bijma comes from a completely different musical world to mine, but we met through a happy accident. My friend Pieter Jansen, who runs the label Yeyeh (who released the LP), met Greetje Bijma’s son on a ferry from Vlieland. He proposed to connect Greetje with a younger electronic music producer and suggested me. Almost half a year after that happy encounter Pieter set up a recording studio for us to improvise and record music. With only a short introduction we disappeared for two days into the studio, recording hours of material. I remember well the first thing we recorded. Through my sequencer and synthesizer I played a very simple soft guitar like arpeggiator melody. For Greetje, this was the first time she experienced an electronic arpeggiator, tight on a beat that could be repeated forever. After listening for a few minutes with her eyes closed, she sang the most beautiful melody. This eventually became the first song on the LP, also titled Swallow a Party.

We formed a connection between different musical worlds and generations. It built a crossover between avant-garde in the jazz world, and the forward-thinking electronic club music world. It also taught me the magic of improvisation and performing live. Before this project, I performed live in different circumstances, solo and with other musicians, but with Greetje Bijma it was different. It became about creating a moment that can’t be repeated. There’s a certain magic in being part of that. To know something can go wrong, but having faith in each other’s musical abilities to find that moment. Together we are somehow able to feel a connection and bring about these moments more easily than I expected. Outside of the music this connection also brought about a special friendship.

Working with Greetje Bijma showed me the power of the voice and vocal music. I have been listening a lot to choir pieces, but also modern experimental music that uses voices as their main element. After I finished the LP with Greetje Bijma I started a project, for which I recorded the voices of a lot of my friends. I used that as the main source material for an album. A voice can be such a powerful instrument as it is so characteristic of the person, it has one’s personality directly infused into it. It also is the most accessible instrument available to all of us. And above all singing together, something that is being lost in western culture, can bring people on the same wavelength in an extraordinary matter.

Name: Job Oberman [Oceanic, Blond…] (The Netherlands, 1992)
Influences: I am constantly influenced by what surrounds me.
Coming projects: Job is working on a number of works for Ensemble Klang, including the opening work for Musical Utopias #4 in January 2022.