Download the article in PDF format here.
Delicate Girl Hands
An interview with solo artist Oshinn
by Henry Kinkowski for Faux Faux
WHEN YOU SEE the girl sitting at a restaurant table on the street, unabashedly removing something from her teeth while she swings a slender booted foot back and forth, your first impression is not that she is a musician of any type. With her large glasses and gaunt frame, Oshinn could easily pass for a much younger girl, a student at the local community college spending a bored morning reading news blogs and eating chicken salad. Thankfully for the community, she is rapidly becoming a local artist to watch. I sat down with her at Bonelli’s Bistro in Kalispell to discuss her life as a ballad-monger.
You’re a familiar face at many venues in town. Do you play often?
This year has been a project year, but last year found me everywhere that would have me. My style and ability has changed a lot in the past year, so I’m hoping to expand past what I’ve already done with ease.
When did you start playing music?
I’ve been playing piano since I was a child. I picked up the djembe when I was 26, and was invited to join a band that same year. After the band broke up, I started playing guitar out of necessity.
Do you still play it out of necessity?
No, I love it. It took some adjustment, though. I’ve been told my delicate girl hands are a hindrance.
Well, you try playing a bar chord with an undeveloped delicate girl finger.
Your song, “F Chord”, deals with that.
Ah, the F chord. My old nemesis.
“F Chord” is on your “Yellow Demo”. Can you tell us a little more about that?
The Yellow Demo was made in my living room last year, with a $60 mic and an embarrassingly simple setup, with the intention of giving it away for free on Bandcamp. It’s available for download on iTunes for a price; I didn’t really have control over that.
So it’s your first album?
I hesitate to call it that. It’s good. It’s obviously not well-produced, or even produced more than is required to offset the effects of a $60 mic. When I put it out, I told people, “It may not be fancy, but it is honest, and it is free.” Still, I don’t think I’ll add it to my discography, because I plan on redoing all those songs in studio.
Have you been recording recently?
I started working on an album, but we had a computer crash with everything on it, and since then have not resumed operations because we lack the hardware.
Where are you recording?
In a friend’s home. He’s a lovely producer and has a sweet setup in his attic.
Have you worked with any studios around here?
I recorded a few songs at Snoring Hound Studios in Somers, Montana, with the very talented David Griffith presiding. We recorded five or six songs off the cuff. It was a mellow day. I honestly don’t have the money to pay for studio time, and my friends, dear working musicians that they are, are quite busy.
Have you considered recording on your own?
I have a setup right now that is functional but not ideal. I don’t think I could put an entire album together with it.
What would be ideal?
Any solid recording equipment, really. We’ve worked enough on it that I have an idea of what I need to do musically to get the best recording. Now we just need the hardware.
You began playing music in 2011. How have things changed since then?
Lord, when I started playing music, it was at the behest of a band that needed a djembe player. I never really thought of myself as a musician. I could sing, but I wasn’t a singer. Then when that band broke up, I had to learn guitar on my own. These past few years have been a massive struggle with that, and today I feel much more comfortable onstage. I learn more each day, and I’ve learned a lot about the business.
What have you learned about the business?
(This question prompted riotous laughter.)
Do you want a list?
Do you have one?
Not really, but I could put one together. Here we go. One, always save emails and texts from the people who book your gigs and the people at the venue that confirm them. Two, always write those gigs down somewhere prominent. Three, don’t be afraid to ask for a little respect if you feel you aren’t getting it from venues. Four, don’t try to get that respect with inflammatory posts on social media platforms. And five, never believe anything anyone says in the music business.
That bad, huh?
Well, it’s just that people get excited about things. It’s very easy to get excited about things and quite another to do stuff about them.
I have to ask you about the inflammatory posts comment.
That’s a slightly involved story for a different day, but I’m glad to tell it in person to whoever asks. Suffice to say, it’s not anything anyone should worry about.
All right, then. So let’s talk style. What type of music do you play?
I love folk music, and a lot of the covers I play are folk covers. My own music is something I haven’t been able to accurately pigeonhole yet, and I sound like a tool saying that, but I don’t know what to call it. It seems like folk, but I do use the word “fuck”. So I don’t know what you call that. Indie folk?
The word “fuck”, eh?
It’s part of my lexicon. I don’t write entire songs based around it. Well, except for “California”, but even the “fuck” in that one was a tendril and not a root.
“California” is the song of yours that people seem to know. Tell us more about it.
That poor song the closest thing I have to a cult favorite at this time. It’s probably the only one that people actually request. They all know the chorus.
I wrote it a couple years back when I had just finished months of longing for an ex I could no long be with, and met someone else who kind of helped lift me out of it. California was the ironic point of connection for the two of them, and the song kind of wrote itself.
Is there any truth in the lyrics?
Every word of it is true, but I think I, how you say, “put some stank on it”. Since then, I’ve talked to the person that it’s about. We haven’t talked in a while, so I’m sure he’s heard it by now. The person I went to California to visit is no longer in my life. This is the cycle of songs.
How do you think the person you wrote it about feels?
My stars, I don’t know. I imagine he would be none too happy, but only because I’m hanging out dirty laundry, and I imagine it sounds incredibly immature. If someone wrote a song about how I have bad teeth and talk too much, I’d be insulted as hell. Like I said, the song is not really untrue. I just look at it now as a relic of my petulant youth.
All of three years ago?
Hey, I just turned thirty. There’s a dividing line there.
You just put up a music video. Tell us about that, as well.
The music video was an overtly homemade one, for the song “Pretend”, which was one of the recordings I did in studio before the equipment shit out. The video serves as the vehicle for the song. The song was done for a radio interview, so I needed it clean. It was immense fun to record- I got bass, drums, guitar and cello on there, in addition to what I was doing, and I love how it turned out.
Are you planning on producing an entire album with a lot of additional instruments?I’m on the fence about that. It sounds great, and I have them available, but I don’t have a full band, and I’d hate to misrepresent myself in a way that would be inconvenient at gigs. We’ll see where the music goes.
Any plans for a band in the future?
I’m actually working on a project right now that would net me a drummer, bass player and keyboardist in one swoop. I’ll keep you posted. I’d rather play with a band, but it simply cannot be “my” band.
Why is that?
Ha… I am not a babysitter of adults.
What should people know about you that are hiring you?
I’m sexy, I’m groovy, I play for less than is decent and have a great time doing it. I also love snacks. I used to say I’d play for a meal if people couldn’t afford me.
Did you ever do that?
They’ve all been able to afford me so far. The meals are just a perk.
Any last words for people listening to your music?
I love feedback. All confidence issues aside, my audiences consist frequently of people I know, and I want to make sure that if I’m wooing a crowd, it’s not just a pre-made crowd.
Where can people find you in the world?
I’m on Facebook at /oshinnreid, and have a website at https://oshinn.wordpress.com. You can find me on ReverbNation and Bandcamp, and I’ve got videos for most of my songs on YouTube.
Henry Kinkowski is a made-up person that served as a prompt for this writing. Oshinn is a musician working and living in northwest Montana. First photograph © 2012 by Emily Mohler of Khorus Eye Imagery. Second by Allen Davis, 2013.
This article is intended as instructive satire. All resemblance to real interviews or interviewers is purely coincidental. And awesome.