After hearing his music for the first time most people don’t believe 19 year old singer-songwriter Oscar Lush is still only a teenager.
With a lyrical repertoire that delves into the darker corners of the human mind, and songs that are driven by a distinct baritone voice, he’s drawn comparisons to some of the greatest solo artists of the last century, such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Tim Buckley.
Yet despite this, he has crafted an identifiable and unique sound that is strongly his own – marking him as one of the young emerging folk artists to watch. Speaking of watch, you can view Oscar Lush performing his song ‘Vanishing Point’ in a bathtub exclusively for Large Noises here.
One of your cited influences, Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, gave you a recommendation at their show in Sydney. How chuffed were you about this? Highlight of your career so far?
Yeah, it was pretty amazing. I met Conor before the show and gave him a CD. He was really lovely and took the demo, but I didn’t expect any mid-gig shout-outs. It was a bit of a dream within a dream really, especially for my 18-year-old self.
That recommendation came off the back of EP Soon Enough, We’ll Be Gone – and the song ‘The Weatherman’. How would you compare your older work with your forthcoming debut album, The World Is Round, So I’ll Go Round?
The newer stuff is clearer. I think my sound as an artist is much more defined, and hopefully just as unique as well. The songs are also much more honest and personal, though not any happier.
Lyrically, what do you think the album represents or what do you think are the common themes on your debut?
Death, time, purpose, relationships – both human and metaphysical. I think at times it tries to answer the question of ‘what’s the point of everything?’ and at other times it simply just says ‘there isn’t one’.
How have your listed influences, such as Laura Marling and Bob Dylan, impacted on your songwriting?
I’m not so sure anymore. Initially they really influenced me in the sense of ‘I want this sound or this sound’ but now I just write with what I’ve got and what I know. But my guitar playing style is obviously heavily influence by early Dylan as well as other newer folk artists, such as The Tallest Man on Earth.
Do you prefer to write fact, fiction, or a mixture of both?
Definitely a mixture. These days it’s more fact than fiction though. The album is mostly dominated by personal stories as well as topical songs, like ‘The Island’ and ‘The Golden Gate’. I’ll mostly just write what feels like it needs to be written at the time.
What do you hope to get out of your new album? A brand new Lamborghini or maybe something a bit more modest?
Hahaha, definitely something more modest. I suppose I just want to give people something interesting and moving to listen to. A song, or a group of songs, that they might be able to relate to; no matter how personal. Something they’ll come back to and listen to again, and hopefully again after that.
Because it’s more fun to do things together, which living Australian artist would you most like to collaborate with? Tell us why?
I had to think about this for a while but I’m actually going to say Australian music legend Tim Rogers. His solo work is really wonderful. I saw him perform a really private gig at the Stables Theatre in Darlinghurst last year and was blown away.
You’re a fairly young artist, do you think age has affected your time in the music industry? Or how your audience perceives your music?
As a young independent artist, I think you often have to turn your weaknesses into strengths. I think being young is almost always going to work against you.
For me it was actually a bit of a novelty because when people listened to my music they assumed I was in my mid-to-late twenties because I have a lower voice. I suppose the earlier you start, the more time you have to develop. I kind of like being young.
What’s on heavy rotation on your iPod right now?
Lots of Joni Mitchell’s earlier work – [1971 album] Blue in particular – as well as ambient instrumentalist composers A Winged Victory for the Sullen. And Tom Waits, as always.
What are your plans for the rest of 2013?
Besides the album release and an album launch, hopefully just gigging a lot and growing my name as an artist. I also have some possible collaborations in the works with some very talented artists.
Where we can see you play next, what releases do you have available and where can we get them?
All past and future releases, including my debut album The World Is Round So I’ll Go Round (hopefully due for release next month), can be found on my bandcamp: www.oscarlush.bandcamp.com
All single-tracks/demos and covers are on my soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com/oscar-lush-music
And I will also have my own website set up soon at: www.oscarlush.com
All other updates will be posted on my facebook page: www.facebook.com/oscarlushmusic
Next Tuesday (the 23rd) I am in Melbourne headlining ‘A Night of Folk’ at The Toff in Town. We also have the very talented Grizzly Jim Lawrie and Whitaker (Ryan Meeking) playing on the night. Doors open at 7pm and it’s only $10 at the door: http://www.facebook.com/events/515741368471578/?fref=ts
I’m also supporting the wonderful Ainslie Wills at the Melbourne launch of her new album You Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine at the Northcote Social Club on the following night (the 24th): https://www.facebook.com/events/443155995765370/
Then in my home town of Sydney I am playing the Hibernian House for Little Features on the night of Saturday the 27th of April: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Features/194361264025762?fref=ts
I’m playing the Hibernian House again for Packwood’s mini-festival ‘Folk-Raiser’ on the 4th of May. There will be some very popular names also playing, such as The Falls and Kate Martin, and the funds raised will be going towards Packwood’s debut album: https://www.facebook.com/events/172026799622149/?ref=ts&fref=ts
In late May, 22nd or 29th, I am also helping with the re-launch of Sydney’s much loved ‘Folk Club’ at a very cool new venue, The Soda Factory. Details still to come.