Like a lot of emergent musicians, Anth Wendt’s career under the monicker Oisima was building up to the show of strength when he released his first full-length album. It’s a moment of truth for many, giving an artist an opportunity to demonstrate the full malleability of their style while also demanding they sustain the attention of their fans for the longest time yet. Oisima’s first album, ‘Nicaragua Nights’, was released late last month and demonstrated an intent to turn his sample-laden methodology into a wider musical experience. Ahead of his national tour, we spoke to him about the not-quite-trip-hop-not-quite-jazz enigma that is his full-length effort.
How are you?
Not too bad, not too bad.
Firstly, congratulations on the album. The concept has been in the works for a while–we first heard ‘Everything About Her’ in mid 2013. Has your vision for the album remained fairly consistent over that time?
Yeah, I guess. On that single I made, I wasn’t really sure whether I was gonna be making another EP or making a full length and that set the tone for what the project was going to be like for sure.
So what was a challenge you didn’t expect to face when producing ‘Nicaragua Nights’?
The whole process was all pretty natural. It was more post-completion of the record, just finding the right home for the album was the most frustrating and time-consuming part of the whole process.
What’s it like holding the music you made in your hands as a record?
Man, we haven’t actually got them yet. They’re going to hopefully be coming in conjunction with the album tour at the end of this month.
It’s got to be exciting though, right?
Yeah man, yeah. I’m a pretty avid vinyl collector myself.
What was the thought process behind the way you arranged the album?
I put a lot of focus into composition and actually creating songs as opposed to simple loop-based stuff. I don’t know, I really wanted to compose music for this album as opposed to just throwing a little 8-bar loop together. And in the process of doing that, it just took whatever form it did. There are a lot of collaborations on it as well so some songs just took different shapes as I worked with other people.
What would you say is the oddest sample you incorporated into this release?
The majority of it is all live recordings. Probably the strangest thing is that I’ve probably got about 20 different friends and old girlfriends that have slammed a door or rattled some keys on the album, so that was fun.
One thing that’s also very distinct is the cover art. You’ve used collage and double exposure previously, but this design seems especially polished. Could you tell me a little bit about it?
The art work was a collaboration with an artist in Melbourne named Jack Vanzet. He’s done quite a lot of artworks for different musical projects and we just got talking to each other a couple of years ago. I didn’t give him any direction, but he was probably one of the first people to get the album in full and I just kid of gave it to him. [The cover] was his artistic interpretation of the record and it was exactly what I envisioned it to be.
That’s got to be a positive feeling when someone hears the music and is able to match it through a different medium, right?
Yeah, I was very overwhelmed when he gave me the first draft. It was spot on.
Will performing this album in a live context change how you usually approach performing for an audience?
The new album is a much more complex album composition-wise. Compared to my EP, there’s a lot going on. It’s going to be a lot of hard work to break it all down and perform it live. I wrote the album to be performed by a live band but unfortunately we haven’t had the time or resources to put together for this tour. I haven’t started putting the live set together.
Would the live performance be something you could unearth at a later date?
I’m definitely looking at, maybe next year, having a small band or orchestra.
I think your sound accommodates that in that it can be pushed in a more traditional performance direction.
The only real way to put my music into context is to perform with a full band, to translate it. There’s so much going on for me to perform it by myself. I’ve had Adam Page play a few times and it’s been pretty special.
Do you still listen to Sina.’s song ‘Remembrance’ before you perform a live show?
Yeah I do, man. Every time. It’s always on my phone. Originally when I started performing years ago, I was really nervous and listening to that would put me into a more at ease headspace.
On social media recently you’ve been irritated at people who don’t understand where you’ve gone with this release. Is that reflective of you becoming much more confident in yourself as an artist?
No, I guess the irritation is the one thing that comes with art which can be a positive or a negative. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion but if you’re going to batter someone’s artistic project, I think you at least have to give them the courtesy of having a chat on the phone as to what direction you’re actually going for before you completely write off someone’s baby. You need to give someone the courtesy of at least touching base with them.
You’re a fan of thrift store digging when it comes to wax, what are some essential places for Adelaide tourists looking to score some deep cuts?
I kind of go anywhere that’s weird. We’ve got a few spots like little flea markets. There’s something really fun about going to a new record store and buying a whole bunch of records just because the label’s cool, you know what I mean? There’s always going to be some sound that you can use from any record if you have a thorough listen through.
I think that’s true. Have you got any word on whether there’s going to be a Dusty Milk Crates vol. 4?
I don’t know if Amin and Jackson are doing it. I chat to the boys all the time but I couldn’t actually say. I hope so.
That was a cool little project. It would be good to see it brought back.
On the last one they had a track from AFTA-1 which was the first track that he released in a couple of years.
What else is coming up on Oisima’s horizon?
Man, I guess most of everything has been getting this album out. The last 6 months have been pretty successful, just making sure that we’ve been thorough. Once the tour’s done, I’m kind of working on Annabelle Weston’s solo EP. I’m producing that for her at the moment which is coming along amazing. It sounds really really cool and I can’t wait for people to hear it.
A whole bunch of stuff, man. I’ve got few little collaborative projects with international musicians through Melbourne Multicultural Arts Centre in July and I’ve got one here in Adelaide in August.
Oisima is touring Australia late June and into July. For more info, check out our tour announcement.