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Oscar Lang

Oscar Lang chats to 1883 about his new release Look Now, dream collaborations and moments of introspection.

Singer-songwriter Oscar Lang is back, and ready to share a glimpse of his inner world.

Oscar has had a momentous rise in recent years following the release of his debut album, Chew The Scenery. The successful debut album brought together lo-fi influences, paired with observational yet dreamy lyrics that perfectly demonstrate his ability to fuse genres effortlessly. In the lead up to the release, Oscar had already made a name for himself with viral hits She Likes Another Boy and The Moon Song, releasing three EPs within twelve months.

His multi-faceted talent lends itself to both artistry and production, shortly after working on beabadoobee’s breakout hit Coffee. With over 100 million combined streams to date, his soul-bearing song writing, and refreshingly original compositions are being picked up, understood, and loved all over the world. The singer returns to the scene with his new album, Look Now. The sophomore album brings together psychedelic melody and a soft piano, in a fusion that’s instantly recognisable as his own. Whilst the tracks have the comfort of Oscar’s genre-defying sound, they offer new insight to the singer’s personal experience.

Before he embarks on a headline tour of the UK this month, 1883 Magazine sits down with Oscar Lang to talk new releases, dream collaborations and moments of introspection.

 

 

So, your sophomore album Look Now is now out! How does it feel to have it out in the world?!

It feels very strange! I was holding onto these songs for a long time and they were almost my little support pole. Now it’s out in the world it almost feels as if I’ve no longer got my support to hold onto which is scary, but exhilarating at the same time. Almost like taking a bit of a leap of faith.

 

How was the experience releasing an album the second time around? How have you seen yourself grow since the last album?

I think the last one was made in a very different environment. Everything was made in a big studio, and we spent a month-on-end every day working on an album. This was so much more relaxed and laid back, just doing it when it felt like we really wanted to. Every now and then I would get little spurts of creativity and message Rich, who is the co-writer and producer on this album. I’d say “Hey, you free for a couple of days?” as soon as I had that little itch of creativity, and we would just fire it out. So yeah, a completely different process! It feels weirder releasing these ones compared to the last one – I care about these a lot more. I’m a bit nervy, but excited for it to settle into streaming services and let people find it organically.

 

So you gave yourself more time with the record to let it breathe. Would you say you were harsher on yourself?

I think so. But I think that I was quite harsh on myself after the last album. I got to the end of it and was like “Oh…” just because we spent a month in the studio and it’s not the way I started doing things. I love sitting at a desk on my own and working until 4am, whereas doing it in a studio is kind of the opposite of that. So, it was a real return to what I know for this album.

 

Each song feels like a story, or perhaps a scene from the film of your life. How do you find the writing experience and allowing yourself to be vulnerable with music?

It is funny you say that, because I feel like half the time I listen to songs, even when it’s other people’s songs, I’m imagining music videos and stuff! So, it is very much the story of my life, and in my head it’s a weird, cinematic thing. I realized that the success I had in a lot of the songs I’ve done over the years, were ones that meant something to me!

The top songs I have right now like She Likes Another Boy and A Million Little Reasons were just stories that were from my own life. I had missed that, a little bit. My last record I was almost making fun of the songs. There were songs that meant something to me, songs about my mates. But this is the first time that I’ve been introspective and looked in on myself without being too sloppy about it. I was really sad anyways, and going in and making a terribly sad record would just make me feel… even sadder!

 

So it was kind of a catharsis, but also something to distract you from how you felt?

For me, music is completely that. I would literally have nights where I would feel awful. My first impulse would be, “I know what you can do – you can go do music! Then that means you’ll blink and four hours late you’re ready to go to sleep! You made it through the night!” It was very much about doing something that will fast forward time, and I really felt like I needed to fast forward through some of those nights.

 

It is noted online that your influences range from artists such as Mac DeMarco to Billy Joel, both of whose styles are so different, but influence can definitely be found in this album. With such a genre-defying style, how does that work as a production process?

It’s more that I’m just making the sounds that I like! I’ll take different elements from all these different genres. The one thing that I have always loved from that Mac Demarco genre was tape warble, and warbling notes that sounded funky and applying that over to some synth that sounds like it would be in a Radiohead song. Combining all these different elements from all the things I love.

I’m from a young generation that has grown up with music everywhere, but not in the same way that it was consumed before, which was albums and track lists. I’ve lived my life on a playlist. So, I almost designed these songs with that in mind. I know that people listen to specific songs, so I feel no worry about “Oh this has all got to be the same genre” or “They’ve all got a sound similar in the same world” because I know that that’s just not how people operate anymore. It’s not how I listen to music, and I think that’s just wiggled its way into my own music. Every time I put on a playlist, it’s jumping from genre to genre.

 

How do you organize your playlists, in that case? Everyone I know does it differently. I used to do mine by colour!

Wow, by color! That’s a good method. I am much more chaotic than that. I have one planet that I will listen to for about two years, and then feel one day that I’m tired of it. I think my previous playlist was a few days long. 400 or 500 song playlists, and I’d just put them on shuffle. At the minute I’m on “Delicious tunes.” The one before this “Oscar’s jams on toast.” I’m getting to the point now where I’m almost done with delicious tunes, so I’ll start a new one. Very chaotic. That’s what I mean by there’s no moods or anything, I’ll listen to whatever.

 

Do you have any personal favourites from this record?

It’s weird because it’s changed so much over the period of making it. When I first finished the record, Crawl was one of my favorites and would often made me emotional. I would listen to a song and have a good cry. Now I think it’s  Circle Line and Everything Unspoken. Stuff that is a little more experimental. But now that I’ve listened to the songs so many times, the words in my head don’t hit as hard. Now it’s more about the music, which is what I really love about the new stuff. We did a lot of interesting, weird shit on them.

 

And when you perform the songs, do you still have that emotional connection to them as you do when you write them?

I really thought I would! I wrote those songs when I was going through a really rough time, and since then I’ve healed from that. It’s a year and a half down the line since I wrote those songs, so in any way I I play them with a sense of pride, I’m getting over this thing and now it doesn’t mean anything, you know? But there are a few songs that will throw me more of a nostalgia, rather than feeling super emotional.

 

Have you ever been out anywhere and heard your music? I feel like that must be a super weird experience!

Yes!! Well, people would send me videos all the time of them like “Your song is playing!” which was always a really cool experience. I don’t actually think I’ve ever been in a shop when it’s playing, that’s yet to happen. But that’ll be a moment, when it does.

 

You, stood in the middle of H&M pointing up… “That’s me!”

[laughs] Yeah, carrying a load of bags that just drop immediately.

 

Who would be your dream collaboration?

Okay so I’ve said this in a few different interviews, but I would love to work with Luke Temple. I’m trying to get his name out as much as possible so that it happens [laughs]. He’s just a wonderful musician and I’ve been a huge fan of his for ages. I’ve messaged him a few times and we’ve swapped DMs, so it’s not completely out of the question.

 

So you are playing in some cool venues on your upcoming UK tour – any locations you are most looking forward to performing?

Oh, it’s hard to say really! I love going on tour so much. The cities that we’re playing are some of the most exciting cities that you play on a tour. It’s very short and sweet. I’m super excited to play Manchester, that’s always a good crack and I love northern people. All my music was recorded in Liverpool, which is not too far from Manchester, and I just love the people up there. They are just sweet. It feels like a community, and they always chat good shit. It is always a great show. Manchester is the one that I am really excited for and It’s the opening show of the whole tour, so it’s gonna be good fun.

 

I want to end on a question completely unrelated to your music, but one that says a lot about a person. So, if the body and blood of Christ are represented as crackers and wine – what would represent you? 

Oooh! [laughs]. Pringles and apple juice. It’s quite funny because since I released my song “Apple juice” I’ve actually drank more apple juice than ever before! It has sort of has become my stage drink now, because it’s not fizzy so I can put loads of alcohol in it and not have to worry about burping. And I just think Pringles are great. We’ll go with a sour cream. I cannot do a barbecue because that will just linger around for days.

 

That is not a good way to represent yourself. 

That’s exactly it.

 

Most people that I have chatted with normally stray away from the food thing! I’m really happy that you stuck to the theme.

I am thinking of it as a religion! What would I give out? One little pringle and a shot of apple juice [laughs].

 

Oscar Lang’s new album Look Now is out now. Follow Oscar Lang at Oscar.Lang

Interview Lucy Crook

 

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