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INTERVIEW: Oscar Jerome

Hi Oscar, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Good thanks, busy playing music. Same old.

Can you talk to us more about your track “Give Back What You Stole From Me”?

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

It wasn’t a particular event, more a mixture of things. The Libor scandal in the UK in 2012 for example and the greed of corporate giants. The state of London at the moment with rich property owners pushing out poorer people and turning places with an interesting history and mix of cultures into a blank, uniform place. It doesn’t only apply to London though, its happening all over the world. It seems that a lot of wealthy people forget that they couldn’t survive without those that turn the cogs of society. Its going to come back to bite them soon.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

We have been working on couple ideas but you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out about that…

The single comes off your new self-titled EP – why name after yourself?

The music on the EP represents the development of this project since I really got serious about it a few years back. Its the first proper release I’ve put out to show people what I’m about so its a bit like here you go this is me.

How was the recording and writing process?

Some of the tracks were written a while ago and I have been performing and refining them with the band, some were more recent. I finally feel we have found a consistent sound now.

I like to get the main idea for a song then play it out, gage peoples reaction, then work on it some more. A lot of other music has been written in between these tracks too, they are just a taste of what I have been up to.

The recording process was a lot of fun. I’ve had input from loads of musicians and producers all of whom are friends too. Jay Thomas Heigl and Maxwell Owin in particular spent a lot of hours with me on this music. We used various studio spaces around South London, we even recorded some parts in a church.

How do you tend to blend past and present influences?

I try not to think about it too much, I’m just into a lot of different music. I play in many styles, for example Jazz, Hip Hop and Afrobeat and I listen to a lot of producers too. I try and keep the instrumentation live but add in elements of production to add atmosphere. I will always be influenced by my heroes like Wes Montgomery or Gil Scott-Heron because they were the masters. I’ll never try and imitate them though because I’m from a different time. You’ve got to keep it fresh.

With a new moniker – how your sound has changed with it?

Not really, the music comes first, the name it is presented under comes second.

What role does London play in your music?

London has played a huge role in my musical development. I’ve met so many amazing musicians here who have taught me so much. There’s a night called Steez based in South East London through which my band really grew at the beginning stages. I met a lot of the people I have collaborated with there and a lot of my music was first tried out at those nights.

You are known for blending different genres – does one genre tend to shine out the most depending on the theme?

I think of hip hop as a political art form so it made sense for “Give Back What You Stole From Me” to have a strong Hip Hop beat. It’s not always the theme that dictates the styles I’m writing in though. A lot of it has to do with where I am at the time and the general feeling I get from my surroundings. When I visited Iceland, all I wanted to do was write folk songs which I had never had the urge to do before then.

Where did you find your inspiration for your songs and lyrics?

It could be a peoples’ political struggle, it could be love, it could be something I read in a history book or an unexplained feeling.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’ll be playing some shows around the UK to promote the release. I doubt you will see me in the Dominican Republic any time soon though. Unless you guys can get me a gig?

What else is happening next in Oscar Jerome’s world?

Like I said this is just a taste of what is to come! There is a lot more music in the pipeline so stay tuned.

I work with some other great acts like the hip hop group Sumochief, an afrobeat band called Kokoroko and an amazing singer called Poppy Ajudha. The plan is to keep creating and growing as a musician and keep looking forward.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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