We spoke to Oscar Jerome ahead of his performance at Visions Festival to find out about a few tracks that have inspired his sound.
South London is rife with exciting waves of contemporary jazz right now, and Oscar Jerome is no different. His distinctive and vibrant blend of jazzy rhythms and soulful melodies has earned him sell-out shows at Peckham venue Ghost Notes and Corsica Studios, and his biggest headline show to date – Oscar plays Village Underground on September 25th – is selling fast. 2018 has also seen Jerome collaborate with fellow south London aficionados Poppy Adjudha and Maxwell Omin, play Love Supreme festival, and next week he will play our favourite east London knees up – Visions Festival.
The follow up to the Where Are Your Branches EP, released earlier this year, latest single ‘Do You Really’ (below) shows a side of Jerome more reflective and socially aware, his honeyed vocal exploring ideas of gender, sexuality and masculinity over bright guitars and percussive rhythms.
Ahead of his show at Visions Festival, Oscar Jerome talks us through five records that have inspired his sound…
ALI FARKA TOURÉ – THE RIVER
When I was in my early teens I loved playing the blues. I listened to artists like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters but knew little about the music’s history. My dad bought me this box set called The Blues in which Martin Scorsese got 7 different directors to create their own film about the art form. One of the films follows American blues musician Corey Harris to Mali where he traces the origins of the blues and meets many influential Malian musicians including Ali Farka Toure. I was amazed at this music, it felt so familiar, so ancient but so exciting and new at the same time. From then on I was hooked to this Malian style of guitar playing and his album was really big for me.
FLYING LOTUS – YOU’RE DEAD
In recent years I’ve been getting into production and trying to have more control over every aspect of my music. I think that Flying Lotus is one the greatest musical minds out there. He approaches production like how a jazz musician approaches playing their instrument, which isn’t surprising considering his bloodline. This has been really inspiring for me as I come from a jazz background but have always been into a lot of more electronic music. He fuses the two traditions in the most amazing way.
GEORGE BENSON – GIBLET GRAVY
When I reached the age of 14 a jazz piano teacher came to my school and my music teacher suggested I get lessons with him. I sucked at piano and it was pretty slow at first but he heard me playing guitar one day and he said why don’t I start bringing my guitar along to lessons. He told me to learn the guitar solo George Benson – On Broadway and it opened up so many new sounds for me. I since became pretty obsessed with Benson’s playing. One thing that really drew me to him was how he has never been afraid to move with the times and fuse what he’s doing with different styles yet still retain respect as one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. This album especially drew me in early on because he mixes it with a lot of soul and rhythm & blues sounds that I was already familiar with.
JOHN MARTYN – SOLID AIR
Ever since I first heard John Martyn I always felt some deep underlying mystery and melancholy in everything the made. He really influenced me as a song writer and vocalist, the way he uses his voice as an instrument and fills so much space just with vocals and guitar, maybe a double bass. I’m a country boy at heart and his music has always been able to transport me into beautiful natural landscapes in my mind. I will always have a soft spot for John and try to convert people to his beautiful music wherever I can. RIP.
TUPAC – ALL EYEZ ON ME
This was the first hip hop album I got into as a kid. Although the content was pretty un-relatable to me I loved it all the same. It was his funky delivery over Dre’s infectious beats that blew my mind. My musical tastes changed so much while I was growing up but this CD always had a prized place on the shelf.
Oscar Jerome plays Visions Festival on Saturday 4th August