Hey Oliver! First up, tell our readers a bit about yourself! How did you get into music?
It might be a bit cliche, but I grew up in a very musical household. My father was a singer and lead guitarist in a band called MEO245 and my mother was a ballerina and a dance teacher. Growing up I had all sorts of instruments around me but I think the first one I gravitated toward was the piano. I actually don’t remember a time when I didn’t play the piano. I wrote my first piano piece at age 5 and continued composing in my spare time even as I began to move toward folk music and lyricism. As I grew older, I was introduced and fell in love with Bob Dylan and Passenger. These are people for whom the lyrics are the most important ingredient in their songwriting and that became my goal. To craft emotive and sophisticated stories whilst maintaining a musical aesthetic that was both invitingly simple and enthrallingly intricate.
Congrats on the release of your debut single ‘Into His Arms’ – a delicate and regretful tale of a splintered relationship. Is there a story behind this one, or something/someone that inspired it?
Firstly, thank you very much…I’m pretty chuffed at how well it’s been received! Into His Arms is actually one of the very few songs I’ve written that isn’t a directly autobiographical story. Of course a splintered relationship did provide context for the song, however, the fictional narrative was more a means to describe the sense of regret that follows any fractured relationship. I think it was ultimately a way for me to cope with my feelings and express them in a somewhat positive and upbeat way.
Talk us through your creative process?
Everything I write comes with some form of personal experience. Often it’ll be a story or a circumstance that I have heard or experienced and I’ll decide at some point that I want to preserve it in a song. Although I’m predominately a pianist, I find it almost impossible to begin any kind of folk tune on the keys so I usually start with a fingerpicking line on guitar and then gradually build up the lyrics and melody on top. I’ll usually have something workable after an hour or so and then refine the lyrics and arrangement further before testing it out live.
Is this single a taste of an upcoming EP/album?
Yes and no. Into His Arms is a song that I wrote specifically to be my first single and I think that I held quite a bit of myself back because it was my first release. The EP that will come out next year will be much more acoustic and raw. It’s going to feature a song that I wrote about my last conversation with my grandad before he passed away last year, and a song I wrote for mother who lost her baby sister when she was a child. Into His Arms was a glimpse into my identity as a songwriter but the next EP will be the full view.
It’s said you have a musical aesthetic of a bygone era – who are some of your influences?
Bob Dylan has been a huge influence in terms of my appreciation for lyricism, however, Passenger is certainly my biggest influence. He was really the first artist I truly fell in love with and as a result, I’ve picked up and amalgamated many of his musical idiosyncrasies with my own style. In terms of musicality though, it was Prince that inspired me. When I was in high school I really wanted to be like him so I taught myself guitar, drums, and bass. I think it’s a combination of these three artists that formed the basic shape of my current style.
In overcoming a number of challenges over the past few years, what is the driving force that keeps you creating music?
I’ve been asked a handful of times why I create and I’ve never really found a good way to answer that question. It’s partly that I’ve never known a life without music and as a result, it’s always been my primary coping mechanism.
However I think to answer this question properly, I need to make the distinction between creating and pursuing music. I will always be creating music because it’s the only thing about which I am truly passionate. However, in order to constantly be creating, I need to pursue and build a career in music.
So the answer is circular, I create in order to build myself a career and I am building myself a career so that I can always create.
Are you more at home in the creative stage, or live on stage, and why?
I’ve grown up with both environments and call both of them home, but I think if I had to choose I’d say that I am most comfortable when I’m composing or improvising on the piano. Playing solo piano, whether it’s in front of a huge audience or an empty room, is one of the only times I feel completely unburdened.
Where can our readers find your music?
Into His Arms is on all the streaming platforms but the best place to hear the single is on Triple J Unearthed or Spotify! You can find more about me at olivernortham.com or through social media @olivernorthammusic. Feel free to follow, like or send me a message!