Bellows (Oliver Kalb) | The Family Interviews


Meet Oliver Kalb

Bellows is a Brooklyn-based bedroom recording project that is all kinds of wholesome — comprised of Oliver Kalb and friends, they create self-reflective tunes that are heartfelt and cathartic.

With shiny contrasts of synthesizers and heavier lyrics, Bellows will pique your interest and pull at your heart strings. Read on to learn about his desire to commune with the supernatural, the functionality of CDs, and being an OG Brooklyn-ite. 



A MAD-LIB By Oliver Kalb

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts:
I've been engaged to the same man for 100 years. He keeps telling me he DINES me, but we need to wait to get SMOTE until he makes more GEMS. If we marry now, we will have to DRAIN with my mother and eat JEWELS every day. But isn't POIGNANT love worth that? Should I put my KNEE down and set a date, or just
continue to be BEST?


Dear Young Lady:
Don't do anything ENIGMATIC Something worth RUFFLING is worth RIPPLING for. I don't think eating DIAMONDS with the man you EXPLICATE is bad, but eating DIAMONDS and living 100 miles away from your mother is better.


Miss Lonelyhearts


Would you rather…

get in contact with ghosts or aliens? 

I would rather let both of them be, but I guess ghosts. I don’t believe that there is life on other planets. I believe that there’s enough mystery happening on earth, especially under the sea, to occupy anyone’s lifetime so I don’t concern myself especially with cosmic thinking.


What would you say? 

I would try to reassure them that their business with the living is finished and that they can be free. 

Some Questions With Oliver Kalb

Digital, Records, CD, or Cassette. Which is your favorite format of music? Why?

CD, cuz I can listen to it in my car. Anytime I really love someone’s album I always ask for the CD instead of the vinyl. Vinyl & cassettes and decorative, CDs are functional. 


What is the food you get delivered most often? Do you have a favorite place to get it from?

I don’t order food delivery ever. But there’s a really good Yunnan style Chinese restaurant near my apartment in Brooklyn called Yunnan Flavor Garden that I go to the most often. 


Your album The Rose Gardener, utilizes metaphor to describe the difficulty and futility of making art today. How did making this album help you grapple with these issues? 

I think most artists are engaged in some kind or self-deception. They generate self-mythologies and stories that make their lives seem bigger, more dramatic, and more beautiful than normal quotidian existence. I think the last two Bellows albums (Fist & Palm and The Rose Gardener) are about peeling back those layers of self-deception that I operate with and looking for some kind of difficult truth that I haven’t been acknowledging. The Rose Gardener, in large part, is about failing to have a career and losing popularly and the esteem of your peers. It doesn’t become easier just because you wrote it into a song, but it can clarify what the problem is. Sometimes just stating a difficult thing in a straightforward way can go a long way toward reaching peace. 

When do you typically practice? Morning? Night?

I don’t really practice any instrument, but I do frequently do song-a-day projects where I write a song every day for a week, or sometimes a month. I think these projects take the place of practicing for me, where they oil the muscle of songwriting so that I can get better at composing and writing lyrics as the days go on.

Where did you grow up? Did it shape the music you are making today?

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. It kind of paradoxically helped me find the sound I work with in Bellows. I started writing songs in high school that were very snotty and vitriolic. After moving upstate for college I found myself pushing back against that kind of urban small-mindedness and wanting to make music with more open-ended-ness and quiet questioning. 

Where do you go to escape the city?

I write and record mostly up in Woodstock, NY, two hours north of the city. 


What advice do you have for others striving to have a voice and make art in the current climate? 

my advice would be to remind them that there are literally millions of artists all trying to create and succeed at the same time, vying for the same peoples’ attention and the same kind of spiritual validation. It’s likely that you won’t receive either of those things, so you need to make sure you feel good making art in a way that’s completely private and be able to feel happy receiving no encouragement whatsoever. No one’s entitled to fame & glory, and wanting those things too much is the surest way to become an unhappy person.

What hairstyle would you like to see become popular in 2019?

I don’t really care about this. 

Do you have any routines/rituals during a practice?

not really, I think it’s important to be hydrated though as a singer. 


If you were running for mayor of New York, what would be your slogan be? 

I would never run for mayor because I’m unqualified. My slogan would be “Unqualified Mayor”.

Any final comments? (This is your electronic soapbox for one last answer.)

nope! Thanks for asking me to do the interview. 

Sean Maldjian