Nexus Meets... Artist

Nexus Meets… Oliver Say

Embracing music at a young age, Oliver Say found himself writing songs and playing guitar (self-taught, by the way) before the age of 12. Now, he’s a talented recording artist with engaging content and driving melodies. We speak with Oliver about his EP Lest It Feel Sore, future plans and much more!

What drew you to music?

My mum actually drew me to music. I was brought up on funk, soul, disco and Motown, and a lot of Jamiroquai to be fair. She was always singing and I started singing with her when I was around 6/7. I guess the thing that kicked off a real interest in learning music though was when my mum had been given a studio day in Birmingham and she gave it to me. After that, I slowly started learning to play guitar through my oldest brother. By the time I was 12 I had started writing and I guess I’ve just never stopped.

What is the backstory to your EP Lest It Feel Sore?

The EP to me is a conversation with myself more than anything. A lot of my music is centred around self-analysis and it’s always been a very introspective thing. There is a chronology to this little collection of songs though. With the pieces that I write around themes of loss, anxiety, depression, etc. I try to create something beautiful and hopeful from those experiences. With these songs, I ordered the tracklist so that it began as something concerned with ‘me’ and ended up something concerned with the ‘us’. I wanted the journey through the EP to feel like progress so that by the time people reach ‘In July’ and finish it, there’s a little bit of hope instilled; that’s the intention anyway. I’ll give you a shout in a couple of months and let you know how well that intention landed.

Does the EP have a significant meaning for you?

Yes, the EP is very significant to me. My music is the most intimate and exposed that I can offer. This EP in its diversity has given me not only the freedom to explore new ideas within the EP itself but also helped to realise a vision for the next project which I’ve already started working towards. I feel that there’s a lot of identity crisis in the world with myself as an example of it. The music that I write is essentially me working through that and trying to figure it all out. I write for me first and foremost, but there are few things that I’ve experienced more rewarding than when you’re told that your music has resonated with someone else. It’s a really wonderful thing.

What is your favourite track on Lest It Feel Sore?

I think my favourite track on the EP is ‘In July’. It took a lot of contemplating and back-and-forth to and from the piano to get that one done. My intention was to write a hymn that was simple and accessible. I think I achieved it, but again time will tell.

What about your least favourite?

I don’t know if I really have one. It’s a tough one to answer because I feel that it’s kind of mood-dependent. I guess if I had to choose, probably ‘This Morning I Wake’, but only because it’s the most underdeveloped piece. But then it’s also one of the most important. No, I can’t offer a least favourite, sorry!

If you could change one thing about the EP, what would it be and why?

The only thing I would change if I absolutely had to would be the mixes. I’m proud of how they came out but they weren’t exactly what I would have wanted. The reality is that my resources are limited and getting good at things is a process. One of the things I’ve been trying to challenge is what’s good enough versus what’s perfect. The EP is not perfect but it’s more than good enough, I think.

Despite the mixes not coming out how I might have liked, I’m still pleased with the job I did, apart from the vocals for ‘Neath’. My good friend mixed those for me and did in three hours what I couldn’t in three months. I hated the song for a while until he sent me the stems back. Also *disclaimer*, my issues are only with mixes, not the masters. The masters are great and I love Lavar Bullard very much for being so ace at what he does.

What do you hope people take from your music?

I hope it provides some escapism and resonates with people. I hope it inspires.

If you could spend the weekend with any celebrity, who would it be and why?

Joe Pera. I’d get him to tell me stories about mundane things and narrate the long drives that we’d go on.

Do you have any phobias?

My manager.

How do you think live music has been affected by the Covid pandemic, if at all?

I think a lot of people have suffered as a result of the last 18 months and I think people will still be suffering from it for a while to come. There have been a lot of venue closures and a lot of artists have lost their main source of income because of it. That being said though, I hope that as things begin to slowly return to normal people will realise the importance of it and make a point to enjoy live music more than they ever had. I was at Brainchild Festival this year and it was such a brilliant experience being in a packed-out tent with people dancing and enjoying the sets.

Do you have any future plans?

I do indeed. I have been writing for my next EP since last year really and plan to put it out in the first half of next year. I’m very excited to be working with a friend of mine on the recording and production of it too. I don’t have any dates set at present, but fingers crossed we’ll be starting the recording process very soon. Outside of that, I plan to be playing more shows, hopefully a tour in the new year and some collaborations.

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