Q&A With Oly Sherman

“His gentle, versatile and emotional voice is simply captivating. It’ll leave a room silent for sure. This is for anyone a fan of Matt Corby.” – Claire Mooney (triple j Unearthed)

After releasing his first single, ’Push Me Down’ in September 2016, Oly Sherman’s flair has become a regular listen on both triple j and triple j Unearthed radio. Sydney has always been a ‘musical smorgasbord’ for new talent in a variety of genres and Oly’s music is no exception to that tradition. Following in the footsteps of Matt Corby, The Paper Kites, and James Blake, Oly’s music reflects the expressive and gentle nature it takes to be a captivating artist.

Oly’s latest offering is ‘Monument’. The new single takes off from where he left off, building on the smoothness of ‘Push Me Down’, into new heights with this driving indie- pop anthem.

“This song pretty much represents an operation I had earlier in the year. Yet as undesirable as that sounds, it has actually created some super positive outcomes for me, both as a musician and a human being. The song is a basic reminder to anyone that when things aren’t too crash hot, it comes down to the way you think, and the people you’ve got around you. It’s a pretty powerful one for me.”

Oly, 22, has been enjoying his music for a long time now, and had begun experimenting with his voice 2 or 3 years ago recording for producers and universities. Oly studies music in Sydney, and has been playing shows in and around the area for the past two or so years. It wasn’t until he released his debut EP entitled Embrace did these shows start to become greater in prominence.

“I’m not only a fan of the music an artist releases, but the way they create perspective with their art, and specifically their live music. I’ve been singing and playing all kinds of instruments for a long time now, but it wasn’t until I saw some really captivating live shows that I thought to myself, this is on another level, I’m definitely up for that.”

I asked Oly a few questions to find out a little more about the man drawing comparisons to Matt Corby.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a few places around the lower north shore of Sydney. My mums side of the family are from New Zealand, so I spent a lot of time going in between Australia and the NZ.

How long have you been making music?

I’ve been experimenting and trying out heaps of different sounds for about 3 or 4 years now, but it wasn’t until about a year ago when I started writing and completing songs. It’s something which I’ve actually found to be the hardest thing to do; actually sitting down and writing something.

What were the musical and personal influences in the creation of ‘Monument’?

Monument was written not too long after I had a pretty sporadic operation. It was a pretty big eye opener, and sort of created this concept of ‘perspective’ for me. Whether it be the people that are in my life, or everything I had done prior, I like to think that what was given to me will now change everything I do from now on, especially musically. I think I definitely wanted one of my songs on the Embrace EP to be one of those catchy, 3-4 minute tunes you could hear on the radio. I had this cool little guitar lick I had been playing for a few weeks and it pretty much fit right in and everything started flowing. Monuments definitely a special one for me.

What instruments do you dabble with?

I started just solely playing guitar and having lessons when I was pretty young, and it wasn’t till I got to high school I started mucking around with singing. One of my good mates persuaded me to start singing for school and it sort of grew from there. I also dabble with the piano and played the drums for a while, but I’d say I’m pretty comfortable singing with a guitar.

Do you solely produce your music or do you have a band/team to assist with recordings?

I wrote, recorded and produced my first EP Embrace, which I am definitely proud of, but know that I’m still learning on that side of thing. I’ve recently started to collaborate more with people that I’ve met doing music and close friends who have a really interesting take on music. I think with my next release, I really want to get more people involved, and give it a whole new feel.

You’ve had many comparisons to Matt Corby. How do you feel about the comparison?

Of course I’m super flattered when anyone puts me in any sort of light as Matt. He’s got such a specific style of singing which he’s made his own. I’m pretty sure there was a couple of months where all I was listening too was Matty do his thing, and I was studying how he would produce some of the notes and other things that I found so stylistically insane. Yeah, Matt has definitely been a big influence for me, and I’m stoked for it.

You note Corby, The War On Drugs and James Blake as some influences of yours. Do you take inspiration from any old-school artists/bands?

Yeah absolutely. I find all those artists mentioned so good with what they do, and how they’ve found their own sound and make something of it, but there are definitely some oldies which have helped as well. I used to listen to a lot of Sting and the work he did with The Police. He again definitely was someone with such a unique style of writing, and seemed to just churn out song after song. I’ve also recently been listening to a lot of Chet Baker in the last year or so. Its surprising because even though he has a completely different take on everything, I find his early, slow Jazz pieces to be really interesting, and super nice to listen too.

What’s next for you – is there an album in the works or are you building towards another EP?

I’ve actually been working super hard at the moment on a live acoustic studio recording for some of the songs off the EP. I still love some of the songs I released, so I wanted to do a little bit more with them before I start on something else. Then I’m planning to release another EP by the end of the year, so definitely more to come.

Do you come from a particularly musical family or were there other factors that inspired you to become a musician?

Funnily enough not really. No one else in my family, (apart from maybe my uncle who plays and sings with the piano), does anything musically. It was definitely something I had to start devoting time to myself, and It feels kind of special that way too now that I think about it. The biggest thing that inspired me musically was the live aspect of it all. I still remember some of the first gigs that I ever saw, and it just seemed so cool how someone could control a crowd with something they love doing, and have worked so hard on. Also with music, there’s not really any defined ending or conclusion to your profession. So the thought of performing and entwining that with actual life experiences cements the idea that this is definitely what I want to do.

Your music is commonly of a minimalist and stripped-back nature. Do you hope to maintain that aesthetic or will future releases increase instrumentation/electronics?

I definitely hope to conserve a lot of that minimalist style when writing and releasing more and more music. In saying that however, I know for a fact that I want to include more and more instruments, more people, and more opinions on my ideas. I’ll probably include a bit of electronic type stuff, but definitely looking to work with more bands etc.

Do you have any shows/tours coming soon?

At the moment, I’m playing a fair support shows and little gigs around Sydney. I’ll be heading to London and Europe at the end of the year to finish off the next project and to do a bit of travelling which I’m really excited about.

What do you do outside of music?

I currently study a music degree in Sydney, and have a few other little jobs. When I’m not studying or doing anything music related, I love to get away. I’m a pretty keen traveller and love to get to somewhere quiet with some good people as often as I can. I like to keep things pretty low key.

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