Musician Oscar: ‘I run all my songs past my mum first; she’s my biggest critic’

Oscar Scheller. Picture: Bella Howard

Oscar Scheller. Picture: Bella Howard - Credit: Archant

His surname is Scheller but you can just call him Oscar – and, according to BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac, he’s making the hottest records in the world right now.

As a child of the ‘90s, it’s easy to glean the Britpop influences on the West Hampstead-raised singer-songwriter’s upcoming debut album, Cut and Paste, which he’ll launch with a show at Rough Trade East in Brick Lane on May 12.

The LP teems with tightly-structured, melodic guitar-based pop, tinged with college rock fuzz from the fact that he recorded half the album in his old West Hampstead bedroom (the other half in a studio near to where he now lives in Harlesden).

His baritone voice and monotonal delivery result in Blur and Smiths references frequently thrown at his door, though the comparisons bemuse him.

“I don’t take offense, unless it’s a comparison to someone I don’t like,” he says. “For the most part I think it’s really funny, and quite lazy if I’m honest.

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“But I definitely have listened to Blur, and I definitely have been influenced by Britpop bands from that era because it was such a strong time for British music and pop culture.”

In fact, he cites classical music, and – bizarrely – Lionel Bart, the composer behind the musical Oliver! as his main influences, which he says is a result of his intensely musical background growing up in Gladys Road, and then Broadhurst Gardens.

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His parents were members of fleeting late ‘70s nu-wave group The Regents: a one-hit-wonder band whose only hit, 7Teen, reached a top 10 slot in the charts.

But the couple continued to make and write music after Oscar was born, his mum filling the house with “sweet keyboard songs” while his dad focused on acid house.

“My mum is my biggest critic,” says Oscar, who is soon moving out of north-west London for the first time, to Hackney.

“If it doesn’t please her, then I’m in trouble. I bring everything to her, all the songs go to her first.”

Though he was classically trained at a young age, Oscar was very nearly drawn into the art world instead.

Having gone to school at Fine Arts College in Belsize Park, he then studied fine art at Central St Martins.

“I still intend to pursue art later down the line but music was the most immediate form of expression.”

Despite the fact his album isn’t even out yet, he’s already working on his second record, a mix of disco, funk and “guitars for good measure”. “I’m not a one trick pony. I’m not just going to play guitar music for the rest of my life – in fact it’s quite the opposite.”

With a gig supporting Bloc Party on their US tour and a UK headline tour of his own in the autumn, one thing Oscar isn’t lacking in is ambition.

“The dream is to steadily, gradually grow into becoming a sensation,” he says. “I do have top ambition; I just want it to be tasteful.”

Oscar plays at Rough Trade East on May 12 to mark the release of Cut and Paste on May 13. He’ll return to London on October 4 at The Dome.

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