Growing up in the village of Star on the breezy island of Anglesey (Britain’s second most populous after the Isle of Man), Osian Howells joined the Welsh language pop band Yr Ods as a bassist in the mid-2000’s shortly after they were formed. After making a name for themselves, first in the North Wales area and then around the UK, the popular five-piece went on to release three full-length albums and played at major festivals including Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Glastonbury.
Since 2014 Mr. Howells has has been working hard on solo material under the name of OSHH, creating a dark synth pop sound that brings to mind the likes of Depeche Mode and former Late of the Pier lead man LA Priest, as well as containing hints of psychedelia for which is home country is famous for. Recorded at Ironworks Studio in Llanllyfni with producer Kevin Jones, OSHH released his self-titled debut solo LP via Blinc Records on 6th October, from which today’s featured track ‘All Mistakes’ is taken.
GIGsoup recently caught up with OSHH to chat about the new record, his influences, Welsh festivals and if he has any plans to take his solo debut out on the road.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album, how does it feel to have your first solo record out there?
Thanks! Yes, it’s very exciting and a bit scary at the same time. I just hope that people will like it!
Can you tell us a little bit about the process of making the record? Who did you work with on the record?
I recorded the backbone of the album at home, and then took it to Kevin Jones, producer at Ironworks Studio where we worked on getting the sound right for the album, and on getting that consistency between the songs. We also re-recorded all of the vocals in the studio, and Kevin added the guitar parts and some interesting sounds.
What are the main inspirations behind your debut? Is there an overall theme or concept tying the songs together?
I wanted to make a pop album, and had already written a couple of songs that fitted in with my idea of a pop album. They were synth driven, therefore that was the direction that I took as I wrote the rest of the album.
Who have been the biggest influences on your dark, synth pop sound and would you say that there’s a slight hint of psychedelia in there?
I think that everything you listen to has some kind of influence on what you create, and I can’t refer to anything specific that influenced this dark, synth pop sound. It’s probably a cocktail of elements that inspired me subconsciously. The sound pallet for the album came quite naturally, and we improved that production/instrumentation in the studio. Yes, I agree that there’s a hint of psychedelia in the mix – I think it’s a Welsh thing!
There have been some great festivals popping up around Wales in recent years including Sŵn Festival and Focus Wales, are there any which are particularly close to your heart?
Yes, I’ve performed at Sŵn a couple of times during the early years of the festival’s existence, and I really liked it when they had a lot of venues going on at the same time all across Cardiff. I’ve also played at Focus Wales a couple of times, and again, it’s got that same kind of vibe as Sŵn, where you can go from one venue to another to see different things. I once played in the cathedral with Yucatan, the acoustics were amazing!
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How does your music translate into a live setting? Do you have a backing band that performs with you?
It’s quite a challenge to re-create the record with a live setup as there’s a lot of stuff going on, and the layers are quite difficult to reconstruct live. However, I am working on the live set with a live band at the moment!
Are there currently any plans to tour your new album around Wales and the rest of the UK in the coming months?
Yes, we are now looking to plan a short tour/series of gigs to promote the album, and will keep you posted!
Where would you like to be a year from now?
That’s a difficult question to answer! I hope to get the live version on the road as quick as possible, and see how this album will be received. Then, perhaps I’ll begin working on album number two.