Interviews

Oisima reveals the challenges and rewards of his debut album Nicaragua Nights

Following the release of his debut album Nicaragua Nights, Anth Wendt AKA Oisima is feeling nervous and excited. He reveals the trials of making his debut record.

Oisima interview illustration

This trippy illustration of Oisima comes from Scotty Beanz

HAPPY: Hey man, how’re you doing?

OISIMA: Yeah pretty good! Just been chilling at home with my girl and my dog!

HAPPY: Nice! Well I guess things have been going pretty well so far, your new album Nicaragua Nights has just come out! How’s that been?

OISIMA: Yeah really good! The response has been amazing. A little bit nervous as it’s been a wile since the last EP, so I was hoping people would still be keen.

HAPPY: Did you have any  expectations of yourself or were you trying to avoid psyching yourself up too much?

OISIMA: Yeah I don’t know man. You like to think you don’t have any expectations but it’s always at the back of your mind that you want to it to go well. It’s just a relief to have it out and have a bit of closure and be able to move on to the next one.

HAPPY: Oh man I bet that would be stressful.

OISIMA: Yeah. You’re putting this baby out into the world for people to judge and it’s not the easiest thing to do.

HAPPY: Listening to the album I found I couldn’t help but reminisce about the past. Is that a quality you tried to instil in the album, or am I just way off?

OISIMA: Nah man, I accept that a lot. For sure, at the time of writing the album I was at the end of a long term relationship. So I guess in a way there was a lot of reminiscing and that kind of stuff. I always try to put as much emotion or some kind of narrative into my music as much as possible

HAPPY: Well it’s interesting that you have such minimal lyrics and vocals, and especially through your sampling, how do you tell a narrative with mostly instruments?

OISIMA: There are sneaky ways. The way I do it is having different elements, there are always things going at different paces. If the main drive is a particular tempo I’ll put in some sneaky percussion to make it seem like it’s moving. I really enjoy movement in music. All my stuff I always put a lot of focus in making it seem like it’s rolling or, I don’t know, walking with it in a way, which sounds kind of weird.

HAPPY: And you did the album yourself right?

OISIMA: I did it all myself man. Apart from the guest vocalists and the flutes and that, the production was all done by me.

HAPPY: Sick. Well as you have all these wicked elements on the album was it hard to try reign it all in? It sounds so well balanced, when you put it on paper it could have all been a bit of a mess.

OISIMA: Yeah man, it’s a weird thing the way I’ve always made music. Everything is always really, really busy but I like to think there is a space to breathe. I don’t know, I can’t just make five elements in a song. My stuff is always 20, 30 different elements doing their own thing at the same time. So yeah it’s taken a while and I feel I’m getting better at it.

HAPPY: Definitely the production is just flawless man. It’s sounds so good and so many elements come through so well without anything having to fight each other for attention. What was the process you took form the first sessions to the final product?

OISIMA: I put together the skeletons of this album when I was on tour. There’s something about music when you’re up in the air. It started like that, and then I spent a lot of time in the studio honing in and hiring a shack down south in South Australia for three weeks. I got all the artists to come down and I recorded most of the elements down there. Then I got home, mixed it in this beautiful studio in the Adelaide hills.

HAPPY: What was your thought process going through it at the time? Did it evolve freely or was there a determined sound?

OISIMA: Nah not really man. It’s weird when you make a full length record you kind of start with 50 to a 100 different ideas, and you just have to hone it down to 12 or so songs. The hardest thing was deciding songs what 11 songs out of 100 that I wanted to put on this record. You can never really know because you want to have some cohesiveness between songs and you don’t really get that until songs have evolved to that point. It’s a long process!

HAPPY: Of course. And what gear did you use? Surely not just a laptop!

OISIMA: Nah, I’ve got a studio full of so much shit! I’ve always been collecting stuff like interesting keyboards and weird guitars. Most of the stuff on there, there’s still a few samples, but it all recorded for this record and mixed through this beautiful old analogue 60s outboard gear. It gives it more of a large kind of feel, rather than a bog bass thing (laughs).

HAPPY: Do you have a favourite piece of gear?

OISIMA: Ummm, I love my native instruments machine. I’ve always been obsessed by those things. I just love gear and instruments that make beautifully sounding stuff.

HAPPY: Is there anything else you hope to incorporate into your music one day?

OISIMA: Not really man. I’ve got a list of instruments to buy to record on the next album.

HAPPY: I was reading about your sampling, and that you sampled a door being slammed for this album, is that true?

OISIMA: Umm, yeah probably (laughs). There’s a lot of weird stuff on the record man. During the recording when I was down south, everyone who came to visit I got them to play something for the album. Like shaking keys or slamming a door. It’s 20 or 30 different friends on the album which is pretty funny.

HAPPY: Like a big party!

OISIMA: Yeah man! I feel a record should be a celebration of that period of time rather than a self indulgent thing. Involving a lot of friends made it a bit more personal.

HAPPY: When you put it that way, is it hard to express those feeling to such a large amount of strangers with the final product?

OISIMA: Absolutely! It’s horrible! It’s one of those where as a musician you do have to consciously have to separate yourself from songs. It’s a horrible thing man, releasing records and putting yourself out there. It’s always a weird thing to get your head around.

HAPPY: So how do you try to get your head around it?

OISIMA: I just don’t really think about it man. You just gotta out it out there and not really think into is too much. I still love the record, I finished it over a year ago so I’m keen for people to hear it.

HAPPY: Of course! If you’ve been sitting on it for a year that’d be a nightmare in itself!

OISIMA: I was pretty nervous at the thought of falling out of love with it after a long period of time. You’re always growing as an artist or as a person. I still adore the record man. I had a pretty clear picture in my mind of what I wanted when I started and I pretty much hit it on the head 100 percent.

HAPPY: So this last year have you been working on new material?

OISIMA: Not really heaps of Oisima stuff, it’s kind of hard while you’re waiting for something to be released. I guess anytime you release a record it’s just closure for yourself so you can get on to the next thing. I’ve been working in a lot o collaborative projects. I’ve been writing the music for Annabel Weston‘s solo EP at the moment.

HAPPY: That’s awesome man. I especially love her vocals on your album.

OISIMA: it took me a long time to find – I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to have female vocals in my music and it took a long time to find the right person. She’s a really close friend of mine and it all happens pretty organically.

HAPPY: Were all the guests on the album like that? Close friends of yours?

OISIMA: Well I’m really good friends with Adam Page and Annabel, they’re both form Adelaide. Mei Seraswati I met in Perth three years ago, and Mei is insane. her solo production and everything is out of control. She’s one of the best in Australia, probably the world to me. The two rappers on the album, I met Danny Watts over the internet about years ago and I really liked his style. We finished Missin’ You Now a while ago.

HAPPY: That’s a lot of managing on your part man, getting all these people together for the album and all.

OISIMA: Yeah, especially with making anything it’s never really finished. You just get to a point where you’re content. You always look at new records and think and want to change certain things. But it’s good now I just want to get it out and people enjoy it!

HAPPY: Cool! In that case I’ll ask the final question. We’re always keen on stuff making us happy, so what makes you happy?

OISIMA: Ummm, fuck man I don’t know. Good people man, good food, good wine. I’m a very simple dude, I’ve got a close group of friends. I just enjoy interactions, and good music man!

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