Interview: Three minutes with Oscar Jerome \\ Ignoring the recipe for “success soup”
In densely rich musical communities, you’d think it easy for some releases to go noticed. All credit due to the London’s young Jazz scene; it doesn’t cloud talent, but only propels it into wider circles. Step up Oscar Jerome, a vocalist and guitarist who works his instrumental and improvisational skills with songwriting that celebrates pop hooks and intelligent, thought-provoking lyricism.
Whilst Jerome is pushing his self-titled project, he’s also a member of Afrobeat collective KOKOROKO and plays with Poppy Ajudha and Joe Armon-Jones amongst others. Asking him about the themes he explores in his new EP, Jerome answers not as an individual but with a collective “we”—whilst Oscar Jerome is branching out on his second EP, it’s heartwarming to know he’s not forgetting where he’s laid his roots.
We took some time with Oscar Jerome to talk to him about his new EP Where Are Your Branches and his recent shows in New York City.
\\ You stand out as one of the few songwriters in the UK Jazz scene. How do you approach your music in comparison to your instrumentalist peers?
I suppose the lyrics is a big thing that’s different. Often the motive for a song often comes from words and then the feeling of the music can grow from that. But really I just write what I feel, often the chords or drum beat comes first, so in that way maybe it’s not so dissimilar.
\\ You recently played the BBC Introducing stage at Winter Jazz Fest – tell us all about the experience.
Yes PRS and BBC introducing got me and a group of other British musicians over to New York to play a showcase. It was an amazing time, the audiences were so receptive and positive. I played a couple other shows while I was there too, one being at the Blue Note. So much of the music I admire and have studied came out that city so it was nice to just be surrounded with that history. I saw a bunch of shows like Pete Rock, Miguel Atwood Ferguson & Onyx Collective. I went to a lot of the jazz clubs and watched a load of the local bands too who were all incredible.
\\ The new EP feels even more confident and self-assured than the first. Tell us about some of the themes you explore.
There are a few themes running through the EP such as the arrogance of western culture and how it is temporary. Comparing the ideas of music being something political or spiritual and the airbrushed ideals we have of life, success and sex in this modern media age.
I think it has come from an urge for something genuine and heartfelt in the general public. The capitalist motive of all mainstream art has become so obvious and most of the music you hear on the radio sounds like someone doing a recipe for success soup. We don’t make music for that reason and I think people find it refreshing.
EZH | Tina Edwards