- 19 Aug 21
Oscar Lang chats to Hot Press full of excitement about releasing his debut album.
Although Oscar Lang is ecstatic to have live music returning, he's had one minor setback recently – the dreaded Covid. "I just recovered," the alternative artist laughs. "So I feel ready to rumble, fresh, no Corona, let's go!"
He thinks he may have picked it up at Latitude, the first music festival in the UK since the pandemic began.
"I had stories from all my mates that had Corona and they hardly felt anything, maybe losing their sense of smell. I was on the sofa for a good five, six days, just feeling awful."
Having fully recovered, the London indie rocker is now entirely focused on releasing his debut album, Chew The Scenery. He's been gaining great traction in the UK music scene, with his track 'Apple Juice' appearing on the latest FIFA video game.
"I'm a big nerd," he says. "I spend half my time playing games, and it's such a legendary thing to be in a FIFA game. I'm just so proud that that happened.
"I used to play a lot when I was 14, 15 and it was the soundtrack to my teenage years. To know that my song could be that for the next generation is really fucking cool. I still can't believe it, I'm in FIFA," he exclaims.
The new record was written and recorded during the height of the pandemic, and Lang is openly – and understandably – ecstatic about finally being able to tour new music again.
"I was really worried that it was going to come out and we still weren't gonna be able to play it," he says. "It's unfortunate that with the EP I worked on last year [Hand over Head], I didn't get to play any of the songs live. And they were all meant to be played live. I'm thrilled that I can give all of the new album a chance to shine," he concludes.
Music has always been a huge part of his life. Oscar cites his mother humming tunes at home as one of his biggest influences when writing.
"My mom is a huge influence on everything I've done. She was always very musical growing up; she'd always sing and do these little jingles around the house. I'm very similar to my mom and, I'd always sing jingles, too, which was how I started writing songs.
"Strangely enough, the thing that got me into playing the guitar was Guitar Hero 3. I absolutely loved it!
"I was like, 'Why don't I actually learn how to play the guitar as well because I knew how to play the piano for quite a few years before that'," he adds.
"I was just getting into my rock phase as well getting into Nirvana, so it's all came from there."
Like most artists from the UK, touring outside the country has become a minefield due to the fallout from the Brexit referendum and ensuing travel restrictions.
Although he's relieved over the recent news that he may not have to obtain a work visa to play shows in the EU, he's sceptical.
"I don't know what that was!" he laughs. "You see something like that and you think it's all good, and then next week you're trying to book a tour and they're telling you you can't go. We'll see!
"I'm really hopeful and happy. Shout out to all the people that really fought for that. It was really scary. I was looking at how can I get another passport, like do I have Irish roots on my mom's side?"
The lack of touring has contributed to a massive income loss for musicians over the past year and a half, and relying on streaming services really isn't an option for Oscar. "I'm lucky that I'm on a label, so I have advances that keep me alive," he says.
"It's hard. I've grown up in this society where pretty much all music has been available to me for all of my life, growing up with Limewire and shit like that. All of that has led to this mindset where if I wouldn't pay for an album, I can't expect other people to pay for it. I'm on Spotify all the time, so I understand.
"That being said, I do think Spotify could pay better," he admits. "But from their perspective, how the fuck do you even calculate that when you pay six quid a month, and you can listen to hundreds and hundreds of songs?"
Starting out today in the music industry means navigating the minefield of streaming. Luckily for Lang, he has some useful allies in this fight.
He was signed to one of the most prominent independent labels in the industry in 2019. Dirty Hit is home to The 1975, Wolf Alice, and Beabadoobee, among others, and Lang stresses that being on the label has been a brilliant experience, and one far from the horror stories you sometimes hear. He maintains that he and all of the other artists have complete creative freedom.
Being good friends with labelmate Beadoobee before she was signed didn't exactly hurt his prospects there, either.
"I used to run Bea's Spotify when we first started out, uploading tracks," he recalls. "So when I did her first release, which was 'Coffee', I asked her, 'what do you want your name to be?' I think her private social media handle was 'Beabadoobee' at the time.
"We've been friends since the start. That's how I got signed, because I was producing her EP, and Dirty Hit liked what I was doing as well."
Lang's new record sees the young artist branching out from his beginnings, though. Taking cues from orchestral music, indie rock and grunge, it's an excellent 13 track experience and one of the finest debuts of 2021.
Asked to sum up the album in one sentence, he simply says: "Just go listen! If you've ever liked any of my songs, you'll like this album, because it's a mix of every different style I've worked on. So I'm sure there's at least one song for you."
Check out Chew The Scenery, Oscar Lang's debut album, out now below:
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