Oscar and Martin
Although Melbourne indie quintet Psuche came to a rather abrupt end after the release of their highly-acclaimed self-titled debut album, its driving forces – Oscar Vicente Slorach-Thorn and Martin King – have returned with a fresh new musical entity in Oscar + Martin. With its refreshing amalgamation of electronica, hip-hop, R&B and experimental pop, the Melbourne duo’s debut album – For You – is one of the stand-out Australian pop records of late.
"I think we're chasing different ideas - while making music in Psuche, we were probably more interested in immersive experiences and more abstract, complex narratives," says vocalist Slorach-Thorn, "whereas with Marty and I, we're expressing much simpler feelings and narratives. And I think in a way, I only started to want to express [these feelings and dance sensibility] more recently.
"For this album, we decided to use mainly songs that I'd written in a certain period just to have it cohesive," Slorach-Thorn explains. "Eight of the songs I wrote by myself and then we fleshed them out together, and two of them we wrote together. We would record it in stages and revisit it, and there was a lot of live performance that we would then digitise, process and integrate into the songs in a more sample-based way. It was quite a long process - I think we spent about close to a year finessing the recordings on For You."
The first single from For You - Recognise - may be an extremely hypnotic track ("there's close to 12 different layers of children's keyboards and organs mashed together"), but it's connected to a real-life, heart-wrenching back-story. "I was very inspired by the way a woman spoke at her son's funeral," he relates, softly. "She talked about him being as bright as the sun, and she was so strong, positive and staunch in her sweetness that day. And it really, really affected me. I was spending the day with another friend - she'd been close friends with the boy who passed as well, and I made this song in order to try and make her feel better about it, because she was so upset. I like to sing to people to try and cheer them up ... and it cheered me up, too."
Over the past few months, Oscar + Martin have supported notable international musicians including Four Tet, Caribou and CocoRosie. "It was really inspiring because all of those artists are people that I've followed in their careers, and seeing them where they are now - it's inspiring just because of the quality of the execution of their ideas and how comfortable they are in their aesthetic and style, and they really have their own persona and identity that no one else could emulate," Slorach-Thorn affirms. "[They were] just amazing to see and we were really happy to feel, sort of, like we could play amongst them and feel confident in our own personas among such giants."
Of course, Four Tet recently collaborated with Thom Yorke and Burial on a 12 inch single featuring two tracks, Ego and Mirror. Like his favourite electronic musicians, Slorach-Thorn is also passionate about collaborative work. "Marcus Whale, who does Collarbones - he and I have done a lot of ambient music in the past," he enthuses, "but I'd really like to make a dance record with him."
Slorach-Thorn has always been drawn to a diverse range of musical stylings, and it's represented in the way that Oscar + Martin explore electronica, hip-hop, R&B, soul and their obvious pop sensibilities. "I've never really appreciated those artists who will just take a style and work with that - I've always felt that if you can mix together all your influences with a level of confidence and virtuosity, then the lines becomes blurred and it becomes more interesting," he contemplates. "I think it's a bit of a trap if you're playing to a genre; I try not to think about it and just try and let it be more fluid and open and not constrained, but I think that's actually quite a pop sensibility more than an experimental one. I think pop music is often just the best bits of everything. I usually get sick of artists over time or I revisit them because no one, I think, is flawless."
Fans can look forward to seeing Oscar + Martin at the Sugar Mountain Festival this Saturday before the duo embark on their album launch in late May/June. Slorach-Thorn is palpably enthused as several of his favourite bands are featured in the Sugar Mountain line-up, and he has surprises in store, too. "I hope to organise some choir sort of stuff - I really, really like singing with a group of people," he beams, "and it'd be perfect to have some really lush harmonies."