Oscar Jerome is a South London-based vocalist, guitarist and composer whose debut solo album ‘Breathe Deep’ is out now. He’s a former member of jazz afrobeat collective Kokoroko and has played alongside Kamasi Washington, Shabaka Hutchings, Moses Boyd and Yussef Dayes.
Oscar’s recorded three new videos on how to use the production software BandLab to make your own track. They’re part of our latest Future Sound Digital series of 5-minute tutorials by talented professional musicians to inspire 11-18 year olds to get into making music, whether they’re dreaming of a career in the industry or just wanting to try something creative.
We caught up with him for a quick chat.
Tell us a bit about Future Sound Digital?
I got involved with Future Sound because there have been a few inspiring individuals that entered my life when I was a teenager that really helped me see music as a realistic path and I hope to be able to do that for someone else. Music education has become a pretty elitist thing, you usually need money to have lessons with good teachers and that is going to put off so many young people that have the potential to make great music. The main thing you need is the passion and belief in yourself. Lack of opportunities make a lot of young people give up before they’ve even tried.
What are your top three tips for a teenager on getting started writing or producing songs?
1 – Listen, listen, listen. Listen to your favourite musicians, beat makers or vocalists as much as you can. Try listening to new things even if your friends don’t think it’s cool – they will be trying to get guest lists to your shows in the future, believe me.
2 – Work with what you have. There is often the idea that you need all sorts of expensive equipment to make great music but this is so wrong. There are so many musicians with all the gear but no idea. Often someone’s limitations create the character of their music.
3 – Enjoy yourself. Work out the funnest ways for you to create music, and develop that. If there are certain techniques you find flow easier for you there is no reason to have to understand every possible way to create. I’m pretty limited in my skills at production but I’ve worked out some processes that I really enjoy. It might be that you most enjoy playing live in real time with other musicians or writing alone on your instrument without doing anything on a computer. Sure, there might be some things you need to get down at some points that are not so fun but the end goal should be to express yourself in a way that feels natural.
How did it feel to get back on stage this summer and what’s been your gig highlight?
I only did a few shows this summer but they all felt pretty amazing. I definitely have a new appreciation for what I do and why I do it after this time away. My highlight would be Gala Festival in Peckham. To hear loads of people singing my songs again felt incredible. You could tell everyone was so glad to be enjoying live music again, people were going crazy. I came very close to stage diving but thought I might hurt someone.
What’s cooking for the rest of 2021?
I am going on tour around the UK in October. Especially looking forward to my headline at Electric Brixton on October 5th. I have been working on a new album and there should be some new things dropping in the not too distant future. Apart from that I’m just trying to stay present and enjoy the small things.
And a last, quick fire question… what three things would you take to a desert island?
A guitar, some spare strings, a fishing rod.
Plus check out new Future Sound Digital video tutorials from singer, songwriter and producer Sans Soucis on the creative process of songwriting and production; and video tutorials from rapper, poet and performer Arji Manuelpillai on writing lyrics and poems.