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Meet Oscar Lang, one of London’s self-produced youth musicians

Jul. 13, 2018
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Oscar Freddie Lang is an 18-year-old living in London. He began writing music in 2011 at age 11, but only properly started writing as ‘pig’ in 2016. Since then, he has released two self-produced albums, Teenage Hurt and Silk, on Spotify. Teenage Hurt, Lang’s first album, took almost two years to complete. According to Oscar, the record is “a weird mix of songs” he’d written over a long span of time. 

In a nutshell, the album sums up adolescent feelings: nostalgia, the fear of being lonely, and being a teenager. In “Late Night Song for the Lonely,” Lang sings, “No one tells you how hard it is alone / And no one tells you how hard it is alone.” The theme of solitude is consistent throughout the album, sometimes also touching on love and self-image.

When we asked Lang what he’s trying to say in “Teenage Hurt,” the musician remarked, “I wrote it based on various things that happened to me, or how I felt at the time. It was a rough year or two, as I really didn’t like my school and would come home sort of depressed and write every day.”

This album was, in a way, a coping mechanism. To me it felt like a diary, a confession of growing up and growing out of a childhood shell. As I listened to the whole record, it seemed sad and scary because it felt too real, but the final track, “Living In a Daydream,” lifted the overall mood and brought a subtle moment of content and relief. 

From halfway across the globe, we got Oscar to open up about his music and more specifically, Teenage Hurt.

Anna Vo: How would you describe your sound, and what inspires you to write songs and make music?

Oscar Lang: I have no clue. I always struggle deciding what genre my music is, for now all I can think of is chill indie. Inspiration—a lot of the time it’s based on life experiences. Often if I have a night at a party or a day at school that didn’t go well, I’ll tend to write about it. I don’t know why, but I guess it helps me move past it.

AV: How often do you create music, and what do you do when you’re hitting writer’s block?

OL: Yeah, it’s rare that a day goes by without me touching my guitar or keyboard. But sometimes I like to play songs that I’ve already written. I’d say in a really good week I can write like 3-4 songs. But normally I write a song once every week or every other week. Combating [writer’s] block… I don’t know, I haven’t really struggled with [writer’s] block that much, I guess I just walk away. I’m a big fan of video games, so I’ll go play that and then maybe come back to it. 

AV: Do you self-produce everything, from lyrics to sound design to album art?

OL: Yeah, I do it all myself, apart from album art—I tend to get help from friends.

AV: Do your friends inspire your art? How so?

OL: Yeah, I’m very lucky to have a group of friends that are quite creative. I produce and write with my friend Bea (beabadoobee on Spotify), so that often helps inspire me and helps me develop my skills. And then [there are] Soren and Amir who are both amazing filmmakers, and Amir, who’s a banging photographer. I also have a group a friends who are all musicians, so it’s crazy that I’m surrounded by all these creative minds.

AV: How long exactly have you been making music? Do you plan on music being your long-term career? 

OL: Since 2016 as ‘pig,’ but I used to have a YouTube channel where I posted covers. (Don’t even bother looking for it—I couldn’t deal with the cringe, so I took it down.) Making music as a long-term career, that’s the dream. If I can do music as a legitimate career I would be eternally happy.

AV: Talk to me about Teenage Hurt—why the album title?

OL: I thought the name sort of described the way I felt at the time. I was quite lonely at my school, and I think that comes off in the sound.

AV: Which artists inspire you?

OL: I don’t know, inspiration hardly ever [comes] from [just] one artist, for me it comes from a lifetime of listening to music. But if I was to name one artist I would say it would be Andy Shauf. That man is a GENIUS.

AV: Would you say the album has love songs? Would you consider your lyrics poetry?

OL: Yeah, some of them, depends really. “She Likes Another Boy” was quite easy to write for me as it was all a true story (with a tiny bit of exaggeration, of course). [And] not usually, as poetry normally has some deeper meaning. With my lyrics I like to lay out what I’m saying.

AV: Are your parents supportive of your music?

OL: Yeah, pretty much. My dad used to be the drummer for a band in the UK called The Housemartins. He actually gave me my first guitar, and my Mum used to sing a lot as well. So music has always been supported. 

AV: How would you like to change and grow?

OL: I don’t know. I’m never really planning where it goes, it tends to just happen. I think it’s mostly controlled by how I’m feeling, so my latest record Silk was quite light and upbeat. But I am currently writing for the next album.

AV: What are you working on at the moment? What is in store for the future? 

OL: I’m gonna be working with Bea for a bit on her music, and another girl called Hannah who was on my track “Passion.” She has an amazing voice. I am [also] writing my own material for the next album, and sort of getting a feel for what it’s gonna sound like. But I’m also planning on releasing a single this summer. So stay tuned for that.

AV: When do you reckon your new music is coming out?

OL: Single in the summer, album early next year probably.

AV: Netflix or YouTube?

OL: YouTube. 100%. Nothing beats watching “Rabbit eating crunchy carrot ASMR” at 2 AM.

AV: How many instruments can you play?

OL: 4, I think? Piano, drums, bass, guitar. But I wanna learn to play a woodwind instrument or a sitar. 

AV: Who would your dream collab be with?

OL: Mac DeMarco or Connan Mockasin. That would be amazing. But on a more realistic level I’d probably say Infinite Bisous, he makes beautiful music.

AV: What is your favorite movie or TV show?

OL: I can never answer this question as it always changes, but I really like Call Me By Your Name. I thought that movie was so genuine and sweet.

AV: What is your favorite album of all time?

OL: Ahh, this is so hard. Mild High Club’s Timeline? Fuck. I really don’t know.

AV: Favorite song at the moment?

OL: “By the Poolside” by Feng Suave. I supported them recently, and they were unbelievably good.