Interview: Oceana’s “Love Supply” is Music to Your Ears.
by Daniel Haim
Just as the ocean connects continents, young singer Oceana connects in her own way- joining soul music of the ’60s with modern beats and contemporary texts.
Oceana connects black to white, funk to soul, modern soul to jazz and pop. She manages to transport traditional styles of music to the present day through her unusual voice, charisma and stage presence. Her music is international, authentic and bubbles with energy. It has depth and is fun, even when she sometimes lets the more somber side of her personality emerge. Oceana (in her mid-twenties), uses her personal experiences in her lyrics to sing about desire, love and life.
It is said of many artists that they are born with a gift for music. While this can be an overused and sometimes incorrect expression, it really does apply to Oceana. The release of her debut album at the start of 2009 surprised us all. Knowing the story of her background, one wonders how much a person can subconsciously be influenced by the lifestyles of their parents. Is there really a musical or creative gene? Why, otherwise, does Oceana speak more of having the need to travel than of being homesick and feels the desire to keep discovering new things and expand her horizons?
Oceana’s mother, a German Haute Couture fashion designer, moved to Paris because of job and was immediately fascinated by its varied music scene. She was especially taken with the African rhythms and in the evenings she could be found in the city’s hippest reggae clubs. There she met and fell in love with an attractive musician from the French Caribbean colony Martinique. The fruit of their love, Oceana, followed shortly. After spending her early childhood in the “City of Love”, Oceana moved with her mother to live near Hamburg, where they lived with her grandparents for the next few years. Mother and daughter often lived out of a suitcase, travelling between Germany and France, where Oceana father was working as a musician and DJ when not travelling around the world on tour.
“I always received a lot of postcards from around the world from my father. He sent me photos and videos of gigs and I thought it was great to have a father who was a musician, even if he never picked me up from school and was not there for ballet performances. I never had the “normal” family life, which most people know”.
As her grandparents were sought-after artists, it was normal for Oceana, from an early age, to be surrounded by singers, artists, musicians and people from the film industry. One afternoon she met the legendary musician Maceo Parker, a family friend, jamming with her grandfather in the garden. Maceo Parker often asked Oceana up on stage at his concerts and last year he even gave her a solo during one. Parker plays an important role in her life.
From an early age it was clear which direction she would take. Her whirlwind path could not be stopped. Her mother started taking her to concerts as a young child. She saw big name Artists including Ziggy Marley, Burning Spear, and James Brown. She felt drawn to the stage, where she wanted to sing and dance. She took ballet lessons and danced through studios. At the age of five she was given a part in a film directed by Hamburg’s Lars Becker. As a teenager she won a music scholarship and had her first singing lesson with the Italian vocalist Etta Scollo. Her natural strength and disciplined nature helped Oceana to establish herself and make her way in the business.
Today Oceana is a modern, confident, young woman who knows what she wants. She actually knew what she wanted from an early age. “I always had an extraordinary lifestyle, was always independent and boxed my own way through life. I didn’t need pocket money — I learned from early on, how to manage on my own.” She never felt homesick, but always felt the need to travel and sees herself as a “citizen of the world.” A real cosmopolitan, she has lived in Paris, Hamburg, London, New York, Los Angeles and spent a fair amount of time in Martinique, exploring her Caribbean roots. She earned her living through gigs and was constantly improving her knowledge of song and dance. Aside from music, she was particularly interested in fashion and photography.
Growing up the child of a working musician, Oceana got the chance to meet some legendary entertainers at a young age, including James Brown’s famous saxophonist Maceo Parker. Last year, Maceo finally made her start thinking about her own career as a vocalist. “He gave me the deciding push! Over the years I had kept writing my own material, but after a concert, Maceo said to me, “You’re ready now; do your own thing!” Luckily this sentence took seed and she did not forget it. She started working in London on several songs and traveled to New York to record her debut album Love Supply. Suddenly things started to move quickly, the team worked well and they produced a fantastic album in a short period of time, which mixes the finest soul-pop, funk, R’n’B and reggae to make the rounded, international-sounding, top-quality album.
Daniel: Tell us about yourself, how did you get started in this business? Where did all of this begin for you?
Oceana: I started as a dancer. Later I joined several musical theatre plays as a singer and dancer… I worked as a back up singer for bands and started writing my own songs.
I performed with Maceo Parker and he encouraged me to do my own thing. Finally I had the luck to form a good team around me .and I recorded my first solo album.
Daniel: What’s the hardest part of being a musician these days?
Oceana: To find the right people to work with…
Daniel: Nowadays when creativity is a lost breed how do you manage to draw inspiration to being creative and making music?
Oceana: Life in general inspires me – the beauty of life.
Daniel: Who are your major influences in the music industry?
Oceana: From James Brown Etta James to Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Bob Marley, Prince – .music that I love.
Daniel: What keeps you motivated to make music?
Oceana: Music is like medicine for me. It always lifts me up when I’m down makes me dance smile or cry. I couldn’t live without music. I love to perform shows with my band…
Daniel: How has the music industry changed since you started and how has your perspective about it changed?
Oceana: Live playing gets much more important and i love it!
Daniel: What type of music do you mostly listen to, and if you opened your iPod right now — what are the last 10 songs played?
Oceana: I listen to all kind of music. I love Reggae, Soul and Funk music … Tarrus Riley Cold Kisses, Jimmy Cliff Many Rivers to Cross, Kelis Acapella ,Raphael Saadiq 100 Yard Das, Rihanna Umbrella , Otis Redding These Arms of Mine.
Daniel: Let’s talk about Cry Cry. What inspired this song? Was this song written for someone?
Oceana: The song is inspired by a story of a very close friend of mine I grew up with …
Daniel: Your album Love Supply is just about to get released next week. What are your hopes for the album?
Oceana: It’s very exciting … *Oceana smiles* I really hope I can reach some people and make them feel good with my songs and music.
Daniel: Care to share with us your dreams?
Oceana: I recorded “Love Supply” in NYC and I had the best time of my life . I would love to live there for a while, tour in the States.
Daniel: What’s on the horizon for Oceana?
Oceana: I cant wait to promote my album in the states play lots of live shows and stay there for a while! I love New York City!