David Ost is a Hamburg-based singer-songwriter. Throughout the last 3 years, he has rediscovered himself as a musician. It’s easy to get lost in his folk poetry, electronic soundscape run with acoustic guitar. His first single is called Gamblers Of Romance. After talking to him for 10 minutes or so, it was clear to me that music is his romance, and that he is a true gambler of music – rightfully so.
IndieBerlin: What got you into music? And how old where you when you started to play/write?
David Ost: So the short version is that I was into music throughout my teens already. I was playing in the school band. At our prom we had the shittiest band, obviously. And quick sidenote on that, we made a lot of bad choices. For instance playing “We are the champions” at our prom night. I thought it would be fun to sing it. Then I realised, it’s quite hard to sing it actually.
+++ Catch David Ost together with Andi Fins, CATT, Dino Paris and more TONIGHT (11.2) at Kesselhaus Acoustics (Berlin) and the following night (12.2) in Hamburg with the same lineup at the Elbphilharmonie for Knut Acoustics! +++
Music has been around ever since, but being 20-ish, I thought it would be good to study something quite normal I guess. And then music was always like a side kind of thing. It was basically just 3 years ago that I rediscovered it. So I thought, hey, this has been around somewhere. So I put it in some kind of a box and opened it again. There’s this thing that feels familiar, you know?
It was back when I studied in Glasgow, so definitely the city has contributed to the entire thing. Because music is just around everywhere, and lots of the people I got to know there are musicians. Then I started to realise that it is somehow possible to write songs that I actually like. That was not a thing beforehand.
Being in Glasgow was kind of the turning point where I thought this is starting to feel quite cool, and then last March I went to my first open-stage here in Hamburg. Now it has been a year of going on stages frequently. Sometimes only every two weeks or something. But now, since the beginning of this year, I do an open-stage at least once or twice a week.
IndieBerlin: How does your songwriting process usually start?
David Ost: Usually I fiddle around with some chords that feel nice, and then it starts with ‘dream-english’, like gibberish. Figuring out the length of the rhymes and then I’m like ‘oh shit, now I actually have to sing something that makes sense’. Lyrics are mostly the last thing I think about. Except when there’s some sort of line, where I think ‘hey, this would be cool in a song!’, but that’s kind of rare.
IndieBerlin: Where do you get the inspiration for the lyrics?
David Ost: I remember the first lyrics that I really liked was, putting myself in the shoes of a friend of mine who struggled with life at that particular point. That went super fast. It was like ‘holy shit, what just happened?’. Because I wasn’t writing about myself. It was just based on all the stories that he told me from some points of his life. From there on, it kind of got quite easy.
I mean, sometimes it is of course relationship-stuff, or like love-stuff, sometimes it’s about just people super close in your life. Just things that happened, and things that are, I don’t want to say ‘relatable’. You wouldn’t listen to something where you have no idea what the person is talking or singing about. Things that are slightly universally understandable I guess. You have a certain topic or a certain story that means something to you, and you’re like ‘hey, how can I formulate this to make sense to more than two people’.
IndieBerlin: How come you have chosen to write in English and not German?
David Ost: Trying to write in German, that didn’t feel right at all. Because it’s like, it’s too precise, you know?
There’s not a lot of room for imagination, for interpretation and for saying less than you actually want to, or the opposite.
When you sing in English it’s like, whatever that means, right? That’s not really a thing in German.
IndieBerlin: What’s your preferred instrument to play?
David Ost: The guitar. I started out when I was 14 with playing drums. I tried to learn piano to learn how to read music. Then I got homework, I didn’t really do the stuff I was supposed to do. I started to pick up the guitar around 15. Just randomly playing stuff. I was learning chords by listening to music. Lots of John Mayer freaky-ish chords, that taught me a lot on this instrument.
IndieBerlin: Where do you see yourself musically in 10 years from now?
David Ost: It depends, if I get the job or not. What I’m currently trying is to tap into the full potential of this music thing.
I could just continue with the acedemia path. Do the normal thing, study something and then get a job. Something that feels very ‘heard-of’.
Now I put every free minute I have into trying to see where this is actually going. So, in ten years I would like to say: “fuck yes I tried that!”.
Not just like I have been playing a bit, no, I really really tried to get into that.
In ten years I don’t want to say, ‘yeah, I didn’t go for that because of X and Y’. I just wanna say, ‘yeah, that was fun. I did what I wanted to do’. Even if it just doesn’t make sense, it can also be that by the end of the year I’ll be like ‘yeah, 2020 was fun’, you know? And in the end it eventually didn’t make sense, or whatever.
It has to come out now. Now is definitely the time, and it’s speeding up insane. I mean, I’m having an interview – which is insane!
I’m still really getting used to people actually being interested in my stuff.
IndieBerlin: If you could be anyone, dead or alive, for one day, who would you be?
David Ost: I got a similar question from a friend recently. I think I will pick the same thing. So I would really like to be in the shoes of one of my grandparents for a day. Lets figure out what’s going on with this whole family-thing and to see my parents in another perspective. And then after a day I’m back in like ‘aaaah, that’s why!’. Also just to see how things are, or were obviously, back then.
David Ost is live tonight (11.2) at Kesselhaus Acoustics in Kulturbrauerei, Prenzlauerberg, Berlin – and in the Knut Acoustics at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg the following night (12.). The Berlin gig is free entry; the Elbphilharmonie is 29€ on the door.
Maria Mercedes is a Copenhagen-based Faroese german-student, currently doing her internship with IndieBerlin in Berlin.
When she isn’t hitting the books or working for IndieBerlin, she is hitting the stage with her band Marbles Lost.