Oscar Mic creates music that works in all settings and transcends genres. His openness to a wide range of sound is what has both made him a widely loved favourite, but also someone who operates in his own parallel musical world. We had a chance to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest releases.
How and when have you been interested in music? And electronic music?
Like everyone I loved music from a very young age. My mum recognised something in me and told me I had to pick an instrument when I was six. I had no choice. I chose the trumpet because It's loud (the drums were not an option on the table) and only has 3 keys. With electronic music, it probably started with The Model by Kraftwerk. When I was younger I would listen to The Sonics and hear that they often had a piano or sax part that sat behind and mimicked the guitar riff and I thought I could do that with synths. Not that I invented that! LCD Soundsystetm were also a big influence. Can you tell us a little about your experience? Where are you from / how did you get into music?
I grew up in the leafy London suburb of teddington. I was a teenage goth so I felt like an outsider from a young age. As I've said, music was thrust upon me by my mother. It turned out to be a great foundation when I started playing in bands when I was 14 and I learnt to play the guitar. My dad is an actor so I grew up around the stage. I spent lots of time at the National Theatre and it got me hooked on show business in general. How is your sound evolving? What artists and genres do you enjoy mixing right now?
The sound moved towards post punk in the last year or two. I was listening to Snapped Ankles and Sleaford Mods and Doorman by Mura Masa and Slow Thai. That faster beat still had a really cool funky vibe that I wanted to try with the percussion I use. Right now I'm working on a song that has big rock elements to it. Queen meets Joan Jett, meets The Beastie Boys. I find it hard to stick to a sound. I always want to do something different. But I try not to make every song completely different because, when you hear something you love you want a bit more of it. How do you feel your music influences or impacts your listeners?
God I don't know! I just want to surprise people. I find most music very safe and generic. I aim to write lyrics that are interesting and hit you on an emotional level even when dressed up in metaphor and symbolism. But they'll be the judge of that!
What projects are you working on right now? What can you tell us about TV LIFE?
I'm doing a side project with Marseille based musician Fructose Father. We are working on our second single. We met in London but he's still stranded in France. I'm deciding at the moment what the next Oscar Mic single will be. I'm working on a really rocky one with a big old school Hip Hop beat. It's called Subhuman. It starts: "I wake up livid, I stand up livid, At breakfast livid, I’m burning hot, At lunchtime livid, From PM livid, To sun down livid, around the clock". It's about everyday anxiety, fear and frustration. Where are you and what have you been doing now?
I'm at home in Bow, East London. Today I've been working on new songs, answering interview questions and feeding the two loves of my life: My girlfriend and my kitten (not necessarily in that order). Has that sound changed a lot in recent years? What is your musical criteria?
It has changed a lot. The early stuff was more Hip Hop with singing, but the latest few singles are more like post punk, rock with rap. Music to me has to be raw. Not perfectly mixed and finished. It should always surprise (musically and lyrically). I need to put my personality at the front. It's just me after all. I've always used sarcasm and humour but recently I've been able to be serious, heartfelt even, without sounding corny or fake. Love songs are the hardest to write coz who the fuck wants to hear 3 minutes of arse kissing and gratitude. What kind of person is that happy and grateful? Who has these relationships?? Do you feel safe now to play a more experimental sound?
I guess so. It's always a balance of originality and bang on funky sounds that we love to move to. It's easy to be original. I could string a tupperware box with human hair but it doesn't mean it'll necessarily kick out a great riff. For me I like to start with the song writing, the lyrics and the message. I do find it easier to experiment more naturally within this process without having to 'try' too much. We all know that the digital revolution has affected sales, but has it affected creativity?
I do worry that the album track is dead. People can download just the singles they like (often just on the first listen). Teenagers have no money so they might not pay for a whole album. Has this led to a world where everyone is trying to only write hits? I don't know. I'm not sure where the Velvet Underground or Frank Zappa would fit into this new way of listening. Can you tell us what your present and future projects are? I really ought to do an album soon. It's long overdue and I have plenty of material. I'd like to make more video content (with my girlfriend, film maker Dovile Meilute). Not just pop promos. Short films with music I can write to go with them. Portishead made a really cool black n white film noir style short when they first came out. It would be great to try to put my weirdness into something outside the 2.5 minute pop song.