Austrian singer OSKA is currently making waves with her unique voice and outstanding songwriting abilities. To this date she released five singles, and already managed to build a solid and continuously growing fanbase.
We had the chance to catch up with the emerging folk / pop artist to ask her a few questions:
You’ve just released your new single “Love You’ve Lost”. Can you give us a little background story on the song and how it connects with the lovely music video?
“Love You’ve Lost” is about my parents’ separation.
The verses are written from the perspective of a child. My parents divorced when I was around 10 and I felt like I couldn’t talk about it; like it was something to be embarrassed about. The first verse deals with having to hide that there’s something major going on in your family to keep the family facade alive. That’s not something a child should have to deal with.
The chorus is more about my dad moving away and feeling like he lost us (his kids) and not my mom; if that makes sense. It’s a very, very personal song that might not make sense to everyone.
The video shows exactly what was lost: us children and the family as we knew it. It’s also supposed to be a contrast to the song. The song itself deals with more negative memories of my childhood while the video clearly shows a very good and loving upbringing. We tend to remember the “bad stuff” more easily and although I always felt very loved growing up I’m happy to have proof in the form of these home recorded videos. It’s actually kind of healing to watch it. To sum it all up: the song and the video are about family.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an up and coming artist in the digital age?
I feel like sometimes it’s expected of me to not only be a musician but also somewhat of an “influencer” – someone who shares his opinion and life online. I’m a very private person who happens to be obsessed with music and wants nothing more than to create music myself. I’m not really into making tiktoks or planning my content ahead of time. I post when I feel like it and when I’ve actually got something worth sharing like my work or my friends’ work. I do want to connect with listeners through social media and give them a sense of who I am as a person; but I want to do it on my own terms. There’s a bit of pressure to share more, which isn’t always easy for me.
Could you sum up some personal milestones in your artist development?
In February I wrote a song called “My world, my love, Paris” with my good friend Danai. Danai is probably one of the best songwriters I know and there was a time I would have been very nervous to write with him; fearing that I might not be “good enough” to write with someone of his caliber. But we wrote the song and I felt completely free to say whatever was on my mind. I wasn’t afraid of being judged for any ideas, lines or melodies I contributed to the song and I felt very confident in saying what I liked and what I thought still needed work.
It took us two days to write the song and as we finished Danai said that this was probably the best co-writing experience he has ever had. I walked on clouds for a few days after we wrote that song and realized afterwards how much I’ve grown as a songwriter over the years. I’m still not where I want to be but to be in a room with someone as good as Danai and able to be unapologetic in my writing… that was huge for me.
Do you have some insights on running a smooth live show?
I’m used to playing on the streets or playing smaller venues, either alone or with friends so I wouldn’t necessarily call it “shows” yet.
But I played a lot of support shows for different artists over the years and always loved it. Being the support is easier because you don’t have the responsibility the main act has; meeting the expectations of a paying audience.
On the other hand I was often in this weird position where the audience never heard of me or my music before. You then only have a very short amount of time to grab their attention and MAKE them interested.
At some point I made it my goal to really, really make them interested in me and my music. I honestly often do it with jokes or by talking; telling them about myself, my songs, my dog; whatever’s on my mind really. I don’t often rehearse it as I learned that I can be very entertaining when I know I have to be. When 1000 people are looking at you, you HAVE to do something interesting. I learned how to make the most of 20 minutes by being unafraid, open, honest and funny. The singing is the easy part. I don’t know if that’s considered “smooth”. I don’t want my concerts to be “smooth” either. I actually want them to feel different every time. I want to continue to read the room, get the vibe and then respond to the audience in a way that makes sense in the moment. A live show is probably “smoothest” when I allow that to happen.
Most of your songs seem to be very stripped down and still feel very big at the same time. How much are you involved in the production?
I’m very involved in the production but it took me some time. It took time for me to figure out what I liked, what things were called, how to articulate that I didn’t like something or what exactly it was that I didn’t like.
We figured out our number one priority: my voice needs to be the centerpiece – always. Everything else can be big and beautiful as long as it doesn’t take away from my voice and the story I’m telling. We figured that out the hard way by overproducing the songs in the beginning. I think we found a good balance now where you can hear that we put a lot of effort into the production while it’s still sounding intimate.
Do you have a songwriting routine or ritual?
Sometimes I’m able to maintain a routine where I get up in the morning and write three pages. But I can go months without doing that and beating myself up about it. Right now I just enjoy making time for songwriting with a friend; it forces me to create on the spot. I’m learning that I can trust the process; that when you sit down with the intention of writing a song, something will always come up.
Is there a prominent musician currently killing it visually? Tell us how!
I’m completely blown away by the music videos of Holly Humberstone. I saw the thumbnail of one of her songs called “Deep End” on Youtube and immediately clicked on it. I don’t why but it was just drawing me in. Nothing really happens in the video; it’s just her looking directly into the camera and singing the song while her friends are putting water on her with a garden hose. All her videos have this old school feeling to it while still being modern. It also seems very intimate and very “her”. I like that.
Name 3 major mistakes you made and other musicians could learn from.
For a long time I was very afraid to offend people. When you’re too polite to say that you actually don’t like that drum beat it can really stand in your way. Be polite, but still be clear on what you like and don’t like.
I also wasted a lot of energy on comparing myself to other artists. There’s no point. Don’t do it. We’re all in the same boat and there’s room for everyone.
Enjoy the process, it’s the best part about it. Sometimes I was stressing out about things that later on turned out to not be worth my energy and time. I want to really enjoy making music with my friends, being in the studio and writing instead of thinking “Are people gonna like this?”. That’s not the important question; the question should always be “Are you enjoying yourself?” and “Do YOU like it?”
You always praise your producer Alex Pohn on social media. What makes a producer special for you?
It was a long process for Alex and I; figuring out what the project should sound like. He was willing to take every step with me. He always said it was so important for him that at the end of it I was happy with what we created. We tried A LOT. We did live recordings, band rehearsals, invited different musicians, worked with different people and we did it all just to come a little bit closer to creating something that felt like me.
I’d say it took us over a year to figure that out and I think we got there with my song “Distant Universe”.
Alex was there for all of it. He puts in so much work and love and helps me with stuff that isn’t his responsibility as a “normal” producer. He’s also very honest and I can always trust his opinion. We really grew into family and I will never stop praising him.
I think what makes a producer special is to give the artist room and time to breathe and allow them to figure out what they want to do.
What’s next for OSKA?
On the 8th of January I will be putting out 333 vinyls; it’s going to be my first physical release. After that I want to continue releasing the music I’m working on right now. The ultimate goal is to release an album that I’m super proud of and also share visual content that stands out and feels like me. I just want to get better at writing music, enjoy myself and hopefully play live again at some point.
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