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It's Important To Put Back Into The Scene: Introducing The Jazz-Flecked Style of Oscar Jerome

Monday, 24 September 2018 Written by Milly McMahon

Photo: Dashti Jafar

“I am a strong believer that if you go into making art with a predefined idea of what you want it to be,” Oscar Jerome says. “Your art will never achieve its full potential.”

A free-form songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Jerome is an ambitious new musical talent who pulls from jazz, pop, hip-hop and plenty more. Starting out he was intent on becoming a rock star. "I just wanted to shred in front of large audiences," he says. Yeah, us too.

Drawing inspiration from life experience, books, the news, science and mythology, Jerome is now ready to go and get that dream. With early backing from tastemakers like Jamz Supernova and Gilles Peterson, Jerome worked with fellow contemporary writers including Moses Boyd, Poppy Ajudha and James Massiah on the way to releasing his first material.

His recent single Do You Really demonstrates the diversity of his temperament on record. Already a mature songwriter who successfully reflects on the issues and matters that interest and sparl conflict in him, he is a philosophical feminist with a finely tuned ear for off-kilter melodies. Stereoboard caught up with this long-haired deep thinker to better understand his craft and creative intentions.

How does the writing process work for you?  

I never write in any particular way. Sometimes it starts with a drum beat, sometimes just vocals and guitar. At the moment I’m doing a lot more production. I revisit stuff a lot, too.

On Do You Really you write about unrealistic ideals of sex, gender roles and masculinity. Do you feel a sense of responsibility to educate and be transparent with audiences regarding matters that you feel you could yield some positive influence over?

Yeah, I think as an artist or anyone in the public eye you have a responsibility to spread positivity. I’m not saying I’m leading the way with anything or presenting anything new, I'm just trying to be honest about my own flaws and recognising that it’s important for men, the oppressor in this situation and most other situations, to talk about these things and recognise them face on. That’s the only way anything is going to change. 

You’ve spoken about maturing the song-writing on your latest material - how did you endeavour to do so?

I think the maturity just came with experience. It’s not really something you can seek out. But I think my lyric writing is less obvious now. I’ve got into poets and writers who have influenced my ideas. Certain people in my life have opened my eyes to new things too. My interests are always changing so I just try and stay true myself at that time. 

How did the music first come to Gilles Peterson's attention and how has working with his label Brownswood helped the popularity of your releases?

I think a few of my musician friends showed my music to Gilles on different occasions. It’s helped push it to a certain crowd for sure. I'm always grateful for their support. My involvement with other acts like Kokoroko and Joe Armon-Jones that have released music with them has, in turn, brought people to my music.

Can you tell me about how the narrative on Baby Face first took shape?

Baby Face has always been the intro to Smile On A Screen live. It exists as something separate on the EP but if you buy the vinyl or see us live it’s all the same thing. It’s basically talking about living in a world ruled by media where you will give up your morality for an unreal prize on a computer or phone screen.

Are you still active in any of the bands you played in?

Yeah, I’m sitting in the studio with another group I work with. I’m still very involved with Kokoroko and Joe Armon-Jones and writing and studio sessions with some other artists like Ego Ella May and Wu-Lu. I love to keep playing new music, it’s great for my mind, soul and musical development. I stopped working with a lot of people to focus on myself but I try to keep involved with projects that test me and I really enjoy. It’s important to put back into the scene if you want to gain from it. 

Who has been your mentor and do you now mentor anyone?

I had a jazz piano teacher at my secondary school who got me into playing jazz. I’d say my dad was important for getting me into certain music too. I always try and give my time to younger people that are getting into music or need advice. I used to teach songwriting classes and guitar lessons, I’m not doing that so much at the moment as I’m developing as an artist but I will always keep it up in some shape or form. 

Oscar Jerome Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue September 25 2018 - LONDON Village Underground
Thu September 27 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social
Fri September 28 2018 - MANCHESTER Soup Kitchen
Sat September 29 2018 - BRISTOL Louisiana

Click here to compare & buy Oscar Jerome Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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