Oliver Sampson - Bio
"Music is a language. Not in the sense that you have something to say like 'I'm going to change the lightbulb.' or 'Nice weather today!' but in the sense that you communicate ideas to other people, who react to those ideas." Oliver Sampson knows something about music and language. Born and raised in the United States, he moved to Germany in 1998 and began adapting his music skills to the European music scene also while learning to speak German fluently. "The parallels between learning language and learning music are really quite stunning," says Oliver.
Since moving to Germany, Oliver has made a name for himself in Southern Germany in the Lake Constance (German: "Bodensee") region as a bass player, songwriter, and music educator. "It wasn't really planned, but after I got here, over the first few years, I played in pretty much as many different types of bands as I could, gathering as much experience as I could." Oliver has played Rock, Pop, Metal, Jazz, Reggae, Funk, Gothic Rock and Metal, Progressive Rock and Metal, Bossa Nova, Samba, Brazilian Jazz and Pop, Latin Jazz and Pop, Indian World Music, Big Band, Gospel and Schlager. Some of the artists and bands he's played or recorded with are RACK, Jazzhead, The Bite (formerly Dragonfly), Cute, Matafro, P.O.C., Jean Jacques Scheifele, Sambinha, Los del Lago, Goujroy, Planet Pop, Raviindra, Jason Burke, Matchpoint, Paul Music, and wooDLawn.
Highlights include appearing on television in Germany and India, playing the German festival scene, touring Germany numerous times including opening for Crux Shadows and The Cascades in Berlin, writing and recording the 2004 Anthem for VfB Friedrichshafen Volleyball Team (Eleven times German National Champions), becoming a Marleaux Artist, filming vidoes, recording CDs released in the US, Germany and India, and opening a music school.
"I take my role as a music teacher very seriously," explains Oliver, "I work with students of all ages and at all levels, helping them find their voice in music, just as I have found and continue to refine mine. Even though I'm a music teacher, I'm aware of my continuing role as a music student, and I'm always searching and looking to learn new things to expand my musical vocabulary to be able to communicate my ideas and to be able to communicate with others in their musical language."
Largely self-taught, Oliver has studied with and learned from some great players. High-school friends Mike Bishop (GWAR), and Merlo Podlewski (Spain, Jack Johnson) were very early influences who went on to their own musical success, but it wasn't until college that Oliver began to really apply himself to his chosen instrument, bass guitar, while paying close attention to mentors Tod Ellsworth (Trace Adkins, John Fogerty, Richard Marx) and Steve Sachse (The C-Nuts). Oliver attended the Bass Collective in New York City, briefly studying with Gary Kelly (The Mama’s and Papa’s, Bill Evans, Ed Palermo Big Band), and has studied in Germany with Markus Setzer, Florian King, and Ralf Franz.
Oliver is currently focusing on his bands RACK and Jazzhead, but takes the side-man jobs as they come. "I'm always open to making new musical friends and taking on new musical experiences. The more the better!" RACK plays Hard Pop Rock, while Jazzhead plays traditional and modern Jazz, Bossa Nova, and jazzy versions of popular Pop and Rock songs. Never one to rest, Oliver is planning new things for the next few years, "I've got some ideas for musical projects that will take a little while to work out, but when they're ready, 'Watch out!'" he says with a smile. "I'm also working on a musical curriculum that focuses on some of my ideas on how to teach music in a way that's different from the traditional model. That will also be exciting when it hits the ground." When music is like a language, Oliver demonstrates the ability to communciate fluidly across genres, cultures, and styles.