Interview: Oscar Lang talks handling pressure and overthinking

Thursday, April 23, 2020
Photo by Lousie Mason

Overthunk is more than the breezy sonic wonderland you hear during your first listen — for Oscar Lang, the EP marks a time of mounting pressure, change, and relentless overthinking. In a short space of time, things changed for the up-and-comer and Overthunk was his way of processing life’s many happenings.

Recorded around June and July last year, it never occurred to him that Overthunk was shaping up to be blooming with floral references and mentions of the seasons — in a period of persistent overthinking, it’s one of the things he didn’t over-contemplate, it happened naturally. “It really wasn’t until I put the tracklist together and it sort of looked at me and I was like, ‘Oh wow, these are related to the seasons’, now that it’s there you can really see it.” The recording process, however, wasn’t as easy. “Every time we would record something, we would change a different part, which meant we had to re-record another thing.”

Since he previously created all his music within the confines of his bedroom studio, the EP meant a change of scenery for Oscar. “It was the first time I properly got into a studio. All my other EPs were literally made in my bedroom. I would record everything, as well as produce, mix and master it all myself.” Creating music in his bedroom studio has its perks, but he wanted more out of his music. Though he felt less pressure as he had more people helping him with the music, the pressure manifested itself in a different form.

He’s got nothing against the ‘bedroom pop’ sound his earlier stuff was more often aligned with, but he felt like it was time for something different — the bigger sound he was after wasn’t something he could make at his home studio. “The problem with bedroom music is that it’s more limited by the fact that I had to try and do everything in my bedroom. I can’t have the full soundstage and beefy drums and guitar solos and stuff like that. I wanted to create something more mature.” Inspired by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Halls and Oates and the Beatles — thanks to his Dad — as well as Mac DeMarco and Tame Impala, he felt the pressure to create something that expanded on anything he’s ever made previously. “There’s been times when I’ve listened to a song by one of my favourite artists and I’ve gone, “Oh Jesus, I’m never going to reach that level.”

After signing with Dirty Hit — who he notes are more like a family rather than a traditional record label — there were more eyes on Oscar. The growing attention was a weird experience for the up-and-comer, who previously never found himself overthinking his releases or the sounds he was sharing with the world. “With the other EPs, there wasn’t too much pressure, but it’s something I really felt when making Overthunk. I used to upload singles on Soundcloud as if it was a selfie or a post on Instagram, I would just whack it up not even thinking about it. The EP channels my progress of getting through that and figuring out how to deal with it.”

Despite the challenges, as well as the adjustment of moving from school to focussing on music full-time, he found his way out of his overthinking bubble. “I think tracks like ‘Applaud’ show where my head was at at the time. It’s good to have gotten through it and now I feel like I’m on the other side.”

“I’ve now realised that there’s no point in stressing about it. It’s only going to make it worse. Then you find yourself in a never-ending cycle of stressing about it more. Because if you’re stressed, you don’t make tunes, and then if you don’t make tunes, you’re even more stressed and it repeats. I learned from that situation not to do that and to just not worry about it.”

After the turbulent experience of making the EP, Oscar is feeling as motivated as ever, “Pushing through it and having it out in the world has meant that I’ve been way more inspired creatively and motivated to do stuff.” He notes that he’s currently experimenting with funk-inspired music, and he’s looking at continually expanding the possibilities of what he can do, “I’m always trying to change my sound. I don’t like keeping my sound in one place because that gets really stagnant and boring for me.”

The world might be a weird place right now, but focusing on his music is keeping the afterglow of Overthunk alive. “Last year I only put out one EP and I think it made me realise, 'oh it’s a bit stale sitting around waiting to release another one'. This year we’re going to go hard with releasing music. Get ready, we’ve got lots of music on the way.”

Written by Amy Smolcic 

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