Ahead of his debut album, Oscar talks us through his biggest musical influences
Alexandra Pollard

14:56 18th February 2016

"Beethoven's mainstream, but he's got the hits." Oscar's musical taste, much like his music itself, is a wide-ranging and variable thing. When we arrive at London's Rough Trade East fifteen minutes before we're due to meet, he's already been rifling through the vinyls for a good half hour, and is clutching a handful to his chest. 

His own record, he tells us delightedly, is sold out, but there's plenty here to discuss. From hip hop to jazz to Britpop, to peek into Oscar's musical influences goes some way to explaining the vascillating, bedroom-pop strangeness of his own music.

Blur - 13


"This is probably my favourite Blur record. I feel like it's their most honest, their most raw. It's about the break-up between Damon Albarn and Justine Frischmann, and that really comes through. It feels like a really solid, cohesive record, and I admire that. My favourite song is either 'Coffee & TV' or '1992' because they're just so heartbreaking. I feel like this is when Blur really came into their own, and it's truly the most honest.

"I saw them at Hyde Park - we supported them at British Summer Time. I got so drunk. I stole all the alcohol from backstage. We had our own trailers, which was amazing, and I just got absolutely wrecked. During 'Parklife', I broke all the beer bottles in my bag, so I was completely soaked, but it didn't matter because it was Blur. I didn't get to meet them, they just got whisked off as soon as they played."

Grimes - Art Angels


"I just love how batshit crazy this album is, because it's kind of trying to do everything all at once. I think she's got a really good ear for melody, and she produces everything herself, like me, and records everything herself like me, so we share a lot in common. She also has pop ambitions like I do, so I feel a good connection to Grimes. This record I listened to it a few times, first on tour, and I was totally bowled over by it to be honest. It's just that kind of sensory overload, which I think she does really well. There's still pop songs at the core of it. I think that's why I like it, it's a good mix of left-field craziness and pop sensibility. My favourite track is probably 'Flesh Without Blood', because it's just such a tune. It's got a really lovely feeling to it."

The Kinks - The Village Green Preservation Society


"Now this is one of my favourite records. It's classic British songwriting, it's story-telling. I guess it kind of taught me how to tell stories and to listen to stories. They're just one of the best British bands in my opinion. Quality stuff. Weirdly recorded though, I mean everything sounds a bit off-balance. The snares are always really loud - it kind of adds to its charm. This is one of my favourites."

Various artists - Studio One Lovers


"The legendary radio label. I actually haven't heard this one, but I do know a lot of their artists, so I was curious to know what was on this compilation. My favourites are Alton Ellis and Delroy Wilson. Bob Marley's on there. Reggae's a little bit of an influence in my music. It's that backbeat and the fact I live in Harlesden now, I'm surrounded by reggae - car windows, shops, neighbours... I got into reggae like three years ago, but I've actually moved to reggae central, so it's even more of a love now."

ESG - Dance To The Best Of ESG


"I've only got their first album, but this is a compilation. It's got everything on it really. This is super groovy, late '70s, I guess it's kinda post-punky, New York disco, punk, dance, groove... I don't know how else to describe it. It's super cool. You can put it on at a party, you can put it on when you're getting dressed, it's got every mood. I love the recording of the drums, the sound of the drums on here is so so good."

Chet Baker - Sings & Plays


"I wasn't always the biggest jazz fan. My best friend Henry, he used to play it constantly, and I think I learned to love it through him a little bit, and Chet Baker was my favourite out of all his repertoire. He's just got such a beautiful voice, and he plays so well. He's a very handsome man too, he's not bad to look at.".

Nas - Illmatic


"I'm a big hip hop fan, especially when it comes to the beats and the samples. This is a beautiful record, kind of timeless but also very of its time. It's quite poetic, I think, and this is Nas at his very best. It's arguably one of the best hip hop records ever made. It's got everything, it's got the street philosophy, it's got that east coast grittiness ingrained in it, but it's got the poetry. Not that many hip hop records have melded those two things together so flawlessly. This is a big one for me."

X Ray Pop - Ding Dong Songs


"This I just picked because of the cover. What is going on here? Apparently they're an all-girl French punk band, which sounds bloody great. It sounds really cool. There's something really great and really satisfying about things that are upsetting or jarring."

BOOK CHOICE: Richard Hell - I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp


"I didn't know much about Richard Hell. I knew that he was in Television early on, and then he had his band The Voidoids, but I didn't know that he was a writer. That was the main surprise, and he's a really incredible writer. This is his autobiography, and it's basically a real throwback to the early '70s lower east side New York, which I'm obsessed with, and it's all the good stories about him, his life, his girlfriends, his different bands, all the drama, but it's done in a very poetic and reflective way. I recommend that, it's a great read."

Oscar's debut album, Cut And Paste, is due for release on 13 May via Wichita.


Photo: Richard Gray