Oliver Potratz

Double bass player, composer and electric bass player Oliver Potratz was born in Hamburg, Germany. Since studying classical music and Jazz with John Hollenbeck and Greg Cohen at the Berlin Conservatory, he has played as a sideman and bandleader in over fifty countries and at various jazz festivals all over the globe and played classical solo concerts with several renowned German orchestras. He also plays contemporary classical music and composed works for central Asian orchestras in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan and was recently invited to the Buenos Aires tango festival. In 2016 he has directed the German-Afghan Safar music project at the Franz Liszt University of Music in Weimar. He took part in over 60 album releases.

FACTS of my birthday that mean a lot to me:

1: The first successful ascent of Mount Everest, a beautiful story! It was a team of two men: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Obviously, one of them was up there first, but they kept it a secret and acted as a team.

2: The world premiere of “Sacre du Printemps” by Strawinski. I love his music of course.

3: Same day as JFK.


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Music is a transformation of the energy inside and around us into sound. This energy and all its transformations through our body, heart, and mind into art inspire me enormously.

2. How and when did you get into making music?
I was always attracted by sound and resonance so it felt totally natural to produce my own sounds at the age of 3 or 4. I found the resonance frequency of our bathroom and sang it regularly when I sat on the toilet in order to let the whole room vibrate, for instance. Later, after hearing and feeling the sound of a symphony orchestra, I started playing the violin. After a couple of years I switched to electric and upright bass.

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Jimmy Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
John Coltrane – Sun Ship
Can – Tago Mago
Jimmy Giuffre – The Easy Way
Grizzly Bear – Yellow House

4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Creativity, freedom of expression, youth, human fluctuation, rising tension, a lot of bullshit, a place you have to leave before you get old, the town where I found love and where my kids were born.

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
My hood: Wedding.

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?

7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Both records of Louis-Jean Cormier, a french canadian singer-songwriter whose lyrics I love.

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Jim Jarmusch.

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Both, as a performer or being part of the audience, I experienced highly inspired and inspiring concerts, and every gig was unique. When it’s on, it’s on. It hits the point. Whenever the music gets there, I never measure or judge in a comparative way. So it is hard to measure, but yes, there was one really special concert for me when I played in Kabul for the first time in 2015. It was an open air concert with wonderful Afghan musicians, both teachers and students. Because of the whole history of this country and these amazingly open-hearted people, it was a very special and emotionally moving experience. Afghan music is highly spiritual by the way. You can find this event on YouTube. The project is called ‘Safar music from Afghanistan’.

10. How important is technology to your creative process?
It is an inspiring extension of my instrument and musicianship. I enjoy the possibilities that technology offers. And then to go back to my acoustic bass and play it completely unplugged…

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have a sister and she likes some of my projects that are not too wild… I think she is even proud of some of these projects, like the music I composed for the TV series Babylon Berlin.

Oliver Potratz’ ‘Das Kondensat’ perform on Jazzkeller 69’s open air stage Jazz am Kaisersteg on Sunday, 30th June as part of the Jazzwoche Berlin.

Photo © Oliver Potratz