Discovered by HighClouds five months ago, the Swedish artist O-SHiN quickly grabbed the attention of our users here at HumanHuman and became a Promising Discovery about a month ago. Not only is the music in itself unique and beguiling, with a plethora of strange, exotic sounds that you can scarcely lay a finger on, but the story behind its creation is also one to take note of.
A couple of years ago, O-SHiN took to the Swedish countryside with five friends for a summer of seclusion, immersion in nature and experimentation with a range of unusual instruments found in the barn next to the cabin where the group were staying. What emerged was songs like “A Revelation” and “Walking On Water” that feature recordings from this time in the cabin, and later were completed in O-SHiN current home in Berlin. Each of her songs offer up a new version of her appreciation for life, for nature, for the organic world around us. That’s exactly why, with just two songs in the public sphere, that our community of new music enthusiasts have picked up on this great discovery.
Here we ask O-SHiN about time in the cabin, her current music, playing live and plans for 2018.
Happy New Year O-SHiN! What do you have planned for 2018?
Hello and thank you for having me. 2018 started already great. I am writing to you from Gran Canaria where I am shooting a visual EP. This means I am going to release six songs in Spring 2018. Also, I am very excited to let you know that I finished 2017 with my first O-SHiN live show and I’ve just done another one [Monday 15th January]! My wish for the year is to share my music not only online but on stage as much as possible.
It was only three months ago that we were introduced to your music via debut “A Revelation”, although the project really began in 2015 in a cabin in the Swedish countryside. Can you recall that time in your own words?
Yes, it took a long time to get the music really the way I wanted it to be. I see it like a good wine that needs to ripen.
Everything started literally in the woods where we just enjoyed living so close to nature and experimenting without any boundaries. I invited my friends from the Netherlands - who are also my musicians - over and we just made music and sounds day and night.
Have you returned to that cabin or to another nature saturated location since?
No, I haven’t yet. But it is my dream to go back there and record my full album.
The unusual amalgamation of strange instruments and field recordings features on both of your tracks “A Revelation” and “Walking Water”. Did you carry on using any of those instruments back in Berlin?
All of the songs that are going to be on my EP carry this sound. I am always looking for these kind of instruments and vibes, no matter if I am in Berlin or somewhere else. I also want to create the same vibe on stage, which is quite a challenge. But I think we’ve come pretty far.
Do you think that the city has also shaped your music?
Definitely. The city has brought more structure to my tracks which had been very experimental. I love experimental stuff but I still want the listener to follow and not get overwhelmed. This feeling is very personal though, but I think it worked well so far.
I suppose there’s a prominent contrast of organic sounds and digital production through the songs. Is this contrast of textures - the old and new; the far and near; the different and familiar - essential to your sound?
Yes, I am a lover for old times, second hand, and vintage stuff - basically in everything - clothes, furniture, music.... I love it when things are not new but put into a new context, which makes it feel kinda new. It was my concept from the beginning, to use mainly organic sounds, but arrange it in a modern/electronic way. Even if something sounds electronic to you most of the time it is some weird organic sound we recorded somewhere.
What else would you say lies at the heart of your music?
Next to the organic aspect you will hear influences from different cultures. I am very open to influences from world music. You will hear Asian harmonies and also I am in love with Indian music, not only the instruments, but also the way India has developed their own music - they hear even more notes than we can hear. To study that makes it very exciting to me. Recently I travelled to Africa, there is a big chance you will hear that in the songs I am going to write in 2018.
Are there any fellow creatives, whether musicians, artists, photographers, performers, producers etc., that you really relate to? And what is it about them in particular?
Oh yeah for sure. Besides the great people I work with I am really inspired by Dutch photographer Sanja Marusic.
Funny thing though, about five years ago I asked her to do a shoot for my music. Turned out to be a big disaster. She somehow decided to dislike me. The vibe was really bad and the pictures that were done, were unloving. I still don’t know why she wouldn’t like me, but nevertheless I admire her work and it inspires me visually.
Another woman I really look up to is the French singer Camille. She is a true artist. She is one of the reasons I started making music and she has been something like my role model to me. She makes music without being bound to any limits.
In the cabin, you were surrounded by other musicians, so clearly that creative environment and collaboration is important to you. Is there anyone you’d really love to work with on a song?
In the cabin I was surrounded by three musicians, one friend who took the role of sound technician and another friend who was filming and documenting the week. Yes, collaboration became very important to me. I used to do everything on my own, but once I understood the beauty of letting another creative mind add something to my ideas I never wanted to go back.
One person I would really like to work with is Kieran Hebden - better know as Four Tet. His latest album has been my favourite album of 2017.
You said of second single “Walking Walking” that “It’s about taking risks, even if it seems crazy. It’s about believing the impossible can happen.” Is that a belief you apply to your own life?
Yes, I guess so. I really like to dare myself and stretch my limits. If I have an idea I am really convinced by I just do everything to make it happen. I don’t want to live only in my comfort zone, even if it’s scary sometimes.
As mentioned before, you recently had a show at Berlin’s Baketown Studio, for those of us unlucky enough to miss out on that, how would you describe your live show?
I have a really great band and we are playing basically all you hear on the records live. There is no backing tracks and no loops. Therefore, we had to build our own drum kit, which is basically a massive percussion tree with many different things to hit on and two people are playing it. If I am lucky enough I find a upright bass player who joins us for the gig, like last time. With so many people there is a whole bunch of energy coming, while the music is still intimate and emotional. You will find yourself looking from one musician to the other trying to figure out who is playing what and even though it is no party music - your feet will move.
Last year, you also performed at Berlin’s Auster Club to celebrate Indie Femininity alongside fellow HumanHuman favourites Melis and Jinka. How was the show?
This was my first concert and it was a great start. I really wanted to finish the year with making the first steps of bringing the music alive on stage before the year ended. It was a tough task since I had to form my band first. In the end everything worked out better than expected.
How do you view the current industry and its relation to women in music? Is there anything you’d like to see change or continue to improve upon in 2018?
The Guardian released an article in 2017 saying most live bands are mainly male. I have to agree I work mainly with male musicians, producers, managers, A&Rs, photographers… personally, I don’t have a problem with it, maybe because I grew up with only brothers. I guess I haven’t even learned how to work with females, just because all my colleagues are male and I really appreciate them and they appreciate me. I believe we still don’t have enough female role models to inspire the younger generation, but we are growing.
Will you be doing anything to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th?
Honestly no. I don’t celebrate any of those international days :P I also don’t care about my birthday and if it was about me I would not need to celebrate Christmas the way we do it. To me everyday is a day to celebrate already.
Of course, what we really want to know is… can we expect new O-SHiN listening in the near future?
YESSS! I have a bunch of songs ready. Expect my next single in February and the EP in the Spring. Thank you so much for your interest in my music!