With his silky neo-soul falsetto, dark melancholic R&B beats and rather elusive ‘net presence, one might expect Oceaán to be a little too cool.
However, as Clash speaks to him, 20-year-old Oliver Cean (“Yes, that is my real name”) comes across as brightly friendly, slightly stammering and exceptionally polite.
With his first original track, ‘Need U’, released on SoundCloud several months ago, we wonder why it’s taken him so long to upload a second, ‘To Lose’.
“I didn’t want to release anything without thinking about the route that I want to go down,” he considers, “and within that time frame I was primarily focusing on the remixes I was commissioned, along with defining my own sound.”
His sound is dark as it is beautiful, stylish and delicate James Blake-like rhythms suited to party comedowns and nighttime city drives. “I feel flattered when people compare my material to James Blake and other artists, like Sampha, as they’re extremely gifted individuals,” he says of the critical parallels.
We ask the Manchester producer about what it’s like to work on his own. “It’s taught me to be self-sufficient when composing, not thinking of any deadlines or anyone in particular I’m trying to impress. It’s a lonely and fulfilling process.”
And what is his music-making process, exactly? “I usually begin with a melody or hook that appears in my head. Conversely, there have been times where it’s been a particular rhythm or timbre that inspired me from something else. From then it’s a case of putting pen to paper, which can take hours to days.”
Oceaán seems meticulous when it comes to producing music. “I like to make a library of things I’ve collected and archive them. I write a lot of classical and choral music as well, along with experimenting with samples I’ve created or collected.”
Having been brought up on a diet of Joy Division, The Sound and classical music, it’s no wonder his musical creations fuse shadowy atmospheres with a wonderfully delicate and precise composition, a combination that will surely enthral.
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WHAT: Down-tempo, seductive electro jams
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Need U’, ‘To Lose’ (video above), Swim Deep’s ‘Honey’ (Oceaán Remix)
FACT: Oceaán was classically trained from a young age.
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Words: Daisy Jones
Photo: Liam MF Warwick (website)
The 'Oceaán EP' is out now on Chess Club.