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LeeFest 2016 Interview: Oscar

 
By on Wednesday, 24th August 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Oscar Scheller, or just Oscar as he’s known professionally, is a fast upcoming pop darling, with tunes that consist of melody and a rough indie edge, whilst his baritone delivers a quaintly simplistic yet deeply emotive carry. Talking to Oscar about anything, you find the same kind of thoughtfulness that’s present in his music. Our interview at LeeFest 2016, which took place in a catering tent backstage, was no different.

“I think its nice playing smaller festivals because you do get the focus. People are genuinely there to enjoy everything, and they have the time to do that”, Oscar explains about the differences between the larger and smaller festivals that our country has on offer. “Like Glastonbury, it’s kind of hard to enjoy anything because you’re just worried about how long it’s going to take you to get from side to the other, it can feel like a whole day.”

It was a few weeks prior that Oscar had played Latitude Festival in Suffolk, which is where he felt his first real movement up the musical ladder. “Latitude was the first time that people stayed to like, meet me afterwards. There was at least like 40 people, we were doing selfies and selling t-shirts. Every show is going better and better. People are singing along to the words now and there’s real, sort of like, fan activity.”

His fondness for this moment is found in his description of the Suffolk getaway, “I really like small festivals, but I think Latitude is genuinely my favourite festival. For me, it’s like if I was still at school it’s one I would go to. It was amazing”. He appreciates that the difference between a festival and a gig can be quite a challenge, but it’s something he relishes. “The other thing about festivals is it’s different to a gig, because a gig people are coming to see you. They’re going to be into it. Whereas festivals, you have no idea who’s watching or what they’re into, so you really have to try and make that connection.”

Oscar’s fanbase has been steadily growing since the release of his debut album ‘Cut and Paste’, but he’s not one to sit back and hope things fall into place. He has ideas and wants to reach you all with them. “We’ve got headline tours in September and October in UK and the European festival circuit up until the end of the year, so the real emphasis is on that. I am writing and recording demos for the next record, I mean, I have so much left over.”

Oscar is somewhat of a creative factory, he explains. “I’m always making stuff, whether it’s album worthy or not. Which is good in a way, because it means I can just pick the best songs. I’m not in a rush.” This certainly means that he’ll have no issue with the follow up to ‘Cut and Paste’, though the second album is normally where people come unstuck (no pun intended). “I think half the problem with that is people can’t write on the road, or they don’t have the means to do it, [or] that’s not how they work, but I can actually write wherever. I could write in here, back of a bus, a melody could come at any time or anywhere. It’s just getting them down.”

With such a free-flowing process, he’s aware that he needs to remain focused upon the smaller goals, although he does have the larger ones in the back of his mind, “I do have massive ambitions. I guess one of them is to eventually cross over to commercial attention. That would be one of them, and write for other people, big people, do top lines for big artists, I’d love that. Yeah, just kind of keep building it”. This isn’t necessarily a modern way of thinking in this fast-paced society, as he fully well knows. “It is an old school method that I’m taking. It’s not hard or fast, it’s slow and steady. I think it will hopefully be a much richer and deeper pathway to wherever I want to go, rather than like just having it thrown at me.”

Speaking with brutal honesty, he continues into talking about the more traditional idea of success in music. “You know all these bands that get signed to major labels, they all get dropped within six months. About 90% of people who get signed to major labels don’t make it, you don’t even hear of them. That very rare 10%, those are the ones you hear about, so in a way I think it’s good that I am where I am now. If a major label wants to sign you and you haven’t got anything going, that’s really dangerous. They own you. I think it’s pretty scary. I think a lot of artists are quite naive about that.

“Signing to a label is the easiest part of the artistic process. Everything that comes after that, that’s the challenge. People say ‘I want to get signed!’ The only thing it changes is maybe you have a bit of money, and resources, just like going to university. You may have access to things you wouldn’t normally. Apart from that, your artistry doesn’t change, [and] hopefully your mentality doesn’t either. Other artists, if they meet me or whatever, or friends who aren’t signed, I say, ‘you don’t need a label’. I was lucky enough to have a really great label interested in me, they have love for it. It’s not just a business. Of course there is that aspect to it, because they have to survive, but it’s a labour of love.”

Even if such successes are sought after by the masses of budding artists and bands, they should all heed Oscar’s advice: “I think you have to hone your craft, and if that’s making things in your bedroom and breaking through that way and kind of getting natural attention like that, I mean, everyone has their own method of doing it and there’s no single way of getting through. You just have to do what’s true to you and try not to worry about it too much”.

TGTF’s full previous coverage of Oscar, including his appearance at SXSW 2016 earlier this year, is right back this way.

 

LeeFest Presents: The Neverland 2016 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 5th August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

When you think of Neverland, you consider the following synonymous: timelessness, youthful vigour and a certain transcendence. In the middle of a forest in Kent, near Edenbridge, Neverland became a reality through the help of Lee and his homegrown festival Leefest 2016. Though the weather was not quite ideal upon first landing, it was far from an issue. The moment you wandered into the main arena, it was clear the only thing that would stop a good time being had would be those adult thoughts that should’ve been, at this point, relegated to the outside world. Neverland’s sole purpose over these 3 days was to be a vehicle for your removal from society and instead to provide you a good time.

Split into three main sections, The Neverwoods (main arena), Mermaids Lagoon (rave central) and Skull Ridge (rock city), you were never far from some form of entertainment. The introductory day, Thursday, saw the smallest of the lineup but definitely the strongest. With only Tootles Circus, your average festival tent, operating as a stage, all four acts were nice and accessible. Peluche and Loyle Carner eased the gaining crowd in, but it was the main attractions of Everything Everything and Ghostpoet (pictured at top) who garnered in the big numbers. With Everything Everything, they perfectly stoked the crowd’s fire and brought their unique blend of rapturous choruses and genre bending music. Conversely, Ghostpoet gave the tent a dark atmosphere with his blend of hip-hop-cum-rock-assault.

Friday brought forth the first full day affair, with Peluche once again kicking proceedings off, but this time on the main stage, aka the ‘Bangerang’ stage. The overall setup of the main arena was easily navigated but with the two stages being centrally located, sound spill was inevitable. Fortunately this didn’t happen frequently, though it’s a dangerous game to play. Highlights from the second day included Corey Fox-Fardell and his brand of songwriter electro melding, which was a particularly pleasant listen whilst grazing in front of the Bangerang stage. Little Simz proved why she is one to watch in the UK hip-hop game, leading the enthusiastic crowd through numerous chants as she dominated the beats surrounding her. In a similar fashion, Roots Manuva brought domineering and commanding beats that just reinforced the entire notion behind LeeFest: you can be who you want, and listen to what you want, as long as you have a good time. Rockers, hip-hoppers and the like were all moving and shaking to the sounds that flowed from the Bangerang stage.

Current London-based pop troubadour Oscar provided his blend of melodic darling instrumentation and baritone vocals. One thing’s for sure, you can’t not have a good time at an Oscar show, no matter the crowd size or venue. Dinosaur Pile-Up sat on top of the kingdom of chaos and noise after a headlining set at the Hook Rock stage in the Skull Ridge. It’s was a venue reminiscent of small clubs, where the noise cascades from all orifices and you’re able to lose yourself in the darkness amongst your other perspiring peers. Barrelling through their grunge/punk hybrid hits, the volume was overbearing at the front. We recommend you watch from a safe distance if you’re stupid enough to forget ear protection (a particular note to self).

The final day started off in stereotypical British style, with grey clouds and intermittent rain, but this didn’t affect the atmosphere. Hannah Lou Clark was a particular highlight: sans band, she used both her pure talents and an iPod to create a wonderfully relaxed and charming environment. Everybody’s favourite indie twosome We Are Scientists provided a particularly raucous set that included singer Keith Murray venturing deep into the crowd during ‘Textbook’, where he proceeded to enlist the help of a particularly fluorescent orange Poseidon who was amongst the crowd. Following these shenanigans was current electro-indie darling Shura, having released her debut album ‘Nothing’s Real’ in July. Delivering a captivating set that never failed to both strike you emotively and melodically, the biggest draw of Shura live is the fact she is clearly there because of the sheer love and devotion for her art. She knows what she likes to dance to and fortunately, we do too.

Originally announced to take place on the Thursday, after a mishap with the programs and the cat being let out of the bag early, the not-so-secret secret set from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes Saturday evening was the perfect climax to this weekend of escapism and release. The pure fury that comes with any Frank Carter show is cathartic enough to make sure you leave with a weightlessness, one that can only be achieved by taking part in both a circle pit and storming the stage, two things this fortunate writer was seen doing.

After all is said and done, the aforementioned sole purpose of LeeFest was achieved. With pirates and lost boys running around shooting each other with water pistols and climbing aboard the decorative dens around the stages, it was impossible to not get lost in the affair. A festival that catered to both families and those of all ages looking to simply cut loose, the promise this event holds is even grander than its current fasthon. Considering this was Leefest’s largest year yet, the sky’s the limit. And with the lead lost boy at the helm, LeeFest could very well be a major player for years to come.

 

Album Review: Oscar – Cut and Paste

 
By on Tuesday, 7th June 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Oscar Cut and Paste album coverCreativity runs in Oscar Scheller’s blood: both of his parents were musicians and encouraged his musical pursuits from a young age. Classically trained, Scheller was first taught piano, then to sing. It’s perhaps no surprise that he’s ended up writing and recording his own music considering his immersion in creativity from such a young age. Add to this, a range of influences including non other than Missy Eliot, and an interesting image of Scheller starts to form. ‘Cut and Paste’ is Oscar’s debut album, which was released in the middle of last month on Wichita Recordings. Prior to the album’s release, Oscar released three singles that appear on the album, ‘Breaking My Phone’, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Good Things’.

‘Cut and Paste’ is a rich tapestry of bright melodies, catchy guitar hooks and vulnerable yet playful lyrics, with just a touch of melancholy in the softer moments. The subject matter of many of the songs is simplistic in nature, but speak of ordinary experiences that anyone can relate to. This is a collection of 10 songs dealing with all manner emotions and feelings, against the backdrop of a glistening guitar and subtle synth aura. Really, it’s a radiant, shimmering indie pop piece of work in its own right, and feels like it would be a fitting soundtrack to a kooky, playful film. It’s definitely going to be the soundtrack to my summer.

‘Sometimes’ opens the album, a bright, playful song that demands to be heard. The whirring guitar hooks and measured cacophony of sound that bursts out after the first few moments echoes Britpop giants Blur. The lyrics are simple and sweet, such as “I was always bad at sports / I won’t play your game”, but with knowing hints, like “always when you’re in my room / I know the things I wanna do”. Scheller’s baritone deeply resonates, yet is crisp and bright. Occasionally I’m reminded of Morrissey, and other times of Ricky Wilson on early Kaiser Chiefs‘ albums. It’s a standout hit and a great way to start off the album.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B3gNCulbH0[/youtube]

‘Feel It Too’ is one of my favourite songs on the album, and it’s also the shortest. The opening lyrics, “oh you know how slow time goes”, is drawled out in a Morrisey-esque fashion. But the chorus is optimistic and upbeat: “I hope that you still feel it too / like I do”. It’s hard to not be drawn in by the sweetness and sincerity of the lyrics, which resonate with pretty everyone who’s ever been a teenager and had a crush. Scheller continues to sing ,“I hope you do” and “I feel it too” as the song plays out, with string elements being heard in the background, further adding to the gently hopeful feelings to the song.

In ‘Breaking My Phone’, the layering of drums and guitars along with the distorted sounds, is reminiscent of ‘90s Britpop, but with lyrics that speak of a contemporary culture where relationships play out more often than not through our smartphones. Scheller sings, “’cos I keep on breaking my phone / my phone after I’ve spoken to you”, such an addictive lyrical hook that bursts out on the chorus, along with a crashing of guitars and synth tones following a calmer verse.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37O2GSieFos[/youtube]

The rest of the album is also pretty solid, featuring a number of great tracks. ‘Daffodil Days’ is slower during the verses, with a musically upbeat, yet lyrically morose chorus, epitomised in the oft repeated: “I will break / whatever good thing comes my way”. ‘Good Things’ sounds like it’s been influenced by Scheller’s classical roots, with light string sounds appearing in the chorus. The lyrics “we’re all waiting for good things to happen / everyone knows it’s true” and “we all want to be loved by one another”, speak to the simplest things that we all want.

As a collection, each track is unique and just as engaging in its own way. The songs doesn’t exactly merge from one into the next in the way that an album sounds when it’s written as one entity. ‘Cut and Paste’ sounds, as the title suggests, like a selection of songs collected from the many years that Oscar has been writing and recording in his bedroom prior to the LP’s release. But that’s not necessarily a negative thing. This is an album that feels more like a carefully curated soundtrack pulled from different aspects of Scheller’s life and influences.

8/10

‘Cut and Paste’, Oscar’s debut album, is out now on Wichita Recordings. He has a number of upcoming dates around the UK and Europe, including a bunch of festival appearances such as LeeFest: The Neverland 2016 in Tunbridge Wells and Secret Garden Party 2016 in Huntingdon. For more on Oscar, including coverage of him at SXSW 2016 and editor Mary’s interview with him in Austin, go here.

 

Preview: LeeFest Presents: The Neverland 2016

 
By on Tuesday, 17th May 2016 at 9:00 am
 

This year’s LeeFest marks the 10th anniversary of the independent arts festival, which started in 2006 in founder Lee Denny’s own back garden. Dubbed LeeFest Presents: The Neverland, the festival’s motto this year is “Never grow old”, and it promises a “stunning musical lineup” along with a host of other wide-ranging entertainment opportunities. The exact location of The Neverland’s new secret venue and campsite near Tunbridge Wells, about an hour southeast of London, will only be revealed to ticket holders near the time of the event, which is scheduled to take place on the 28th-30th of July.

What we already know about LeeFest 2016 is that its strong live music lineup presents an enticing mix of established artists and up-and-coming acts. Headliner Lianne La Havas could possibly fall into either category, after her breakthrough 2012 album ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?” She is currently supporting Coldplay on their ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ world tour and is scheduled to open for fellow soul singer Leon Bridges on his September and October dates in America. La Havas released a new EP ‘Blood Solo’ back in February, providing solo interpretations of tracks from her second full album ‘Blood’, as well as the delicately haunting new track called ‘Fairytale’, which you can hear just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/CjH3arNObr0[/youtube]

In contrast to La Havas’ soulful folk stylings, Liverpool rockers Circa Waves join the LeeFest headline bill in the midst of their own summer festival circuit. They recently appeared at Live at Leeds 2016 and will grace their hometown stage at Sound City 2016 at the end of this month. Circa Waves have been quiet so far in 2016, but their emergence back onto the live scene, including a handful of upcoming headline dates around the UK, might be a hint that something new from the band is forthcoming. In the meantime, you can get in the festival spirit with their video for ’T-Shirt Weather’, which featured on their 2015 debut album ‘Young Chasers’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/S9z_cyIgE9s[/youtube]

The LeeFest 2016 docket features a wide array of other artists previously covered here at TGTF, most notably 2015 Mercury Prize nominee Ghostpoet.  The LeeFest lineup also includes a lengthy list of our SXSW 2016 alums: Manchester art-rockers Everything Everything, dance pop duo Formation, Liverpool’s own Clean Cut Kid, indie pop wunderkind Oscar, Kent ‘dirty-pop’ bangers Get Inuit, Sheffield rock duo Nai Harvest and Tunbridge Wells native Will Joseph Cook.

exmagician internal

Newer acts like London all-female quartet The Big Moon and Belfast alt-rock duo exmagician (pictured above) hope to build their reputations on LeeFest’s stages as part of their summer festival tours as well. Given that LeeFest’s past lineups have hosted such heavy hitters as London Grammar, Jack GarrattYears & Years, and Clean Bandit, it seems like a safe bet that if you’re not already familiar with the names on this year’s list, you will become so in very short order. (On that note, stay tuned to TGTF for our pre-LeeFest interview with exmagician, which will post in the coming days.)

SubmotionOrchestra internal

The live music portion of the festival will also include DJ sets from Submotion Orchestra (pictured above), The 2 Bears, Midland and Horse Meat Disco. Aside from the musical festivities, LeeFest also offers a variety of other entertainment categories comprising Comedy, Spoken Word, a generic Performance classification, and the very curiously-titled Sillyness. Divided among three so-called “realms”, The Neverland aims to provide “immersive adventures at every turn”, even including a Family category for arts enthusiasts with young children.

As a preview of the main event, LeeFest: The Neverland is partnering with the Tunbridge Wells Forum for a free festival launch party featuring a surprise headliner starting at 6 PM on the 3rd of June. Keep your eyes on LeeFest’s official Facebook page and Twitter feed, which are being updated with further details as the 2016 festival approaches.

LeeFest 2nd Poster

 

Handmade Festival 2016: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 13th May 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Parts 1 and 2 of Steven’s review of Leicester’s Handmade Festival 2016 posted earlier this week. Check out parts 1 and 2 here and here.

The Sunday of Handmade 2016 held particular importance for the city of Leicester. Entering anywhere within a 15-mile radius of the city, you would find yourself presented with an inordinate, but very much deserved, amount of Leicester City FC regalia, for they were soon to, but not on this day, make football history. This of course would have been detrimental in some aspect to the day’s proceedings at Handmade, since a festival of this size relies heavily on local cultural interest. However, there are also those outsiders, like myself, who make the pilgrimage and spread the word via numerous blogs, social networking posts and other ramblings. On a rare historical occasion such as this, when even non-diehard football fans are intrigued and excited by it, there will inevitably be a drop in attendance. The final day didn’t carry the same weight in atmosphere as the Saturday nor the Friday. The lineup itself wasn’t overtly weak but the bands that had that cultist draw such as Lonely The Brave, We Are Scientists or Deaf Havana were missing from this final day, bar Los Campesinos! (pictured at top), who saw the largest reception with their “landfill indie” hark back.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/4-M_m1I1uKU[/youtube]

Easily the set of the day, and unfortunately it was one of the earlier ones so the crowd wasn’t as large as it should’ve been, was Johnny Lloyd. The ex-Tribes frontman who’s in the midst of excitement ahead of releasing his debut solo EP ‘Dreamland’, has returned with extraordinarily deep songs that utilise haunting, soft melodies and raucous crescendos to create a beautiful juxtaposition.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/OBcv6iYXpCM[/youtube]

Other highlight sets from the day included Oscar, whose strong baritone vocals richly cover his often poppy, but at times focused and dramatic indie. Seeing Oscar on the main stage before heading once again down to the lower levels to witness USA Nails throughly annihilate any further thoughts of natural hearing, is an experience that just fortifies the uniqueness behind Handmade.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/VyOC5Nkl3E0[/youtube]

Of the minor downsides, and there really are only small, unavoidable ones, the largest of these was food outlets. Three tents on the patio area by the entrance, for a 3-day, mostly all-day festival, doesn’t leave much choice for hungry festival-goers. However due to the festival’s fairly central location, there was the option of making the 10-minute walk to a main road with further choices available. As this is a music site and not food, I shan’t go into detail on the food itself, but rest assured it was all fantastic.

With 2016 being the largest year to date for the Handmade Festival, 2017 is set to be even greater. I highly suggest you take a weekend out of your lives and make the trip to Leicester. You’ll find something new to fall in love with, be it a Jurassic Park-themed punk band or a simple photograph on one of the many displays around the venue. Either way, it’s fresh and exciting, and there’s no chance of being stuck on a muddy hill as you watch your tent slide away.

 

Video of the Moment #2084: Oscar

 
By on Thursday, 12th May 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

There’s two things I learned when I had the opportunity to meet and interview the very adorable Oscar at SXSW 2016 in March. One, he’s a very happy-go-lucky guy, and it comes through his music. Two, he’s definitely an artist who doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Tomorrow, he’ll be releasing his debut album ‘Cut & Paste’ on Wichita Recordings. It’s sure to be a fun, colourful affair. To build up more anticipation for the album, he’s released another video from the album, this time for ‘Good Things’. What’s Oscar’s definition of “a good thing”? Evidently, big lips, cucumber slices, massive lollipops, bubble test sheets, plastic flamingoes and French bulldogs, and that’s just in the first minute of the video. Check out the chill video for ‘Good Things’ below. For all our past coverage here on TGTF on Oscar, head this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzcIvRiUpNg[/youtube]

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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