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Interview: Oscar Key Sung

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on April 24, 2014

Electronic solo artist and producer Oscar Key Sung is taking his soulful music around the country to celebrate the launch of his EP Holograms. We had a chat with him about his music, playing overseas, and what he’s listening to and reading these days. 

How did Oscar Key Sung as a solo project get started?

I was working a lot on songs myself, and it was somewhat of a natural thing where it just started to happen. I think in a way I wanted to have a project where I was a bit more aware of it all from the start – with the new knowledge I’d gained from other past projects. And a clean slate, I guess.

You collaborate a lot and you play in other projects too – do you place a preference over your solo work?

I think initially it was kinda everything at once for different reasons, but recently I’ve been focused on my solo work. It’s hard to do many things justice if you wanna do it really well, so I’m starting to hone in a bit more at the moment.

And you’ve done a lot of production work including for Ghostpoet & Melo X last year, which was pretty amazing.  Are you planning on producing with anyone else in the future?

Yeah! I’ve got stuff in the pipelines, nothing official though, but definitely working on more things in that vein. I’m really keen to work with rappers and singers.

You’ve opened for some great acts this year – Autre Ne Veut, Gold Panda etc, and you played at Golden Plains Festival… what have your highlights been from the year so far?

Umm, probably Golden Plains, that was awesome.

And you played overseas last year, what were your favourite moments?

I probably most enjoyed the show I played in San Francisco supporting Hiatus Kaiyote. It had a really good audience, everybody was super into music. Actually, you know what? The LA show was really good too. Both of the shows supporting Hiatus Kaiyote were amazing. The audience were really soulful people, they love and feel music so much. With gigs, I do a bit of electronic stuff, but I also have singing parts. So often, if I get too indulgent with the singing and the sparser stuff, people often lose interest at a festival or in Melbourne. But in America, people were really engaged with that and they really responded, and really got into the more dancey stuff as well.

I find that really interesting. When I see a part-electronic, part-live show, I find it so much more engaging when there’s live vocals or guitar included, it makes such a big difference.

Me too! I love when performances have moments where it’s really upbeat, and moments that are really down tempo, and not even danceable, I think that’s cool. And it makes the bits that are ecstatic and uplifting more meaningful rather than this block of four-to-the-floor the whole time.

Yeah, I find it so interesting how the audiences react so differently to that.

Yeah, when I played the stripped back bits  in America and did just vocals and a drum sound, people would go mental at those points.

And they just don’t have the same reaction here?

Sometimes, I dunno. Not quite. I’m actually playing guitar on this tour as well.

Oh that’s cool, it’ll sound so good!

Yeah, when I was in America I bought this Casio midi guitar, so I’ve got this guitar but I’ve attached it to my computer and my hardware, so I’m triggering synth sounds from the guitar as well. It’s pretty fun. I haven’t played any shows with it yet, but we’ll see how we go.

Did any of your travelling from last year filter into your newer songs?

Yeah, I wrote a bit when I was there, but I was writing about things that had happened back home more so than things happening while I was there. I definitely felt very inspired when I was there, I took a lot away from it, it’s still coming out in my work now.

Do you think you’ll end up moving to the US?

Yeah I think I would move for a bit, for sure. I can always come back home!

I also wanted to ask about the video for All I Could Do, it’s so cool– how did that all come together?

Essentially the collaboration between Tristan Jalleh and a few other people. Triston does digital rotoscoping We basically sat around and talked about ideas, constantly brainstorming and adding new things, and we came up with little techniques to do things we wanted to have in the video. It was all very free and creative. We didn’t take it too seriously, it was just a bit funny. To me, the clip is hilarious. When I watched it the first few times I was pissing myself laughing, just thinking, god, we are so crazy. The way it just keeps escalating, I find really hilarious.

How long did it take to make?

Well there was two guys in the post production and it took around three months.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Hmm, I’ve been listening to James Ferarro a lot lately, I really like him. Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, that kind of stuff. I’ve been listening to a lot of opera too. I don’t really like listening to anything but that kind of thing, or ambient music while I’m reading, and I’ve been reading shit tonnes this year, like literally a book every four days.

Oh nice, what are you reading?

Today I’m on Margaret Attwood, a book of short stories called Dancing Girls.

Do you have any favourite authors?

Yeah but they always change, I kinda hate a lot of them now, haha. This year I’ve been on a Murakami binge, I’ve read like three of his books.

He’s one of my favourites, which were the three?

A Wild Sheep Chase, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and Norwegian Wood. Have you read any of those?

Yeah, I’ve read Hard-Boiled Wonderland and Norwegian Wood.

How good is Hard-Boiled Wonderland!

It’s crazy! You should read more of his books.

Yeah, I’m gonna read Dance Dance Dance next.

Oh cool. Well that’s a short one, you could get that out in like two days if you’re reading so fast.
Anyway, if you could play anywhere in the world, at any time of day, what would you choose?

Hahaha, ummm, I’d play in Atlantis, at 10:11 pm. Has anybody said that before?

Nobody’s been that specific about the time. Well hopefully one day that can happen, we just have to find Atlantis!

Oscar Key Sung tour dates:
Thurs April 24 – Goodgod Smallclub, Sydney
Sat April 26 – Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane
Thurs May 1 – The Bird, Perth
Sat May 3 – Rocket Bar, Adelaide

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