Oshri: On bringing the Middle Eastern sound to the front of pop music

PHOTOS: Migal Vanas
INTERVIEW: Jasmine Perrier

For those who are new to your music, could you introduce yourself?

My name is Oshri (26), I’m a French Yemeni singer based in Los Angeles, an optimistic person and a Spice Girls fan.

How did you first get involved in the music world?

I first started by annoying my whole family and singing all the time, anywhere and everywhere. They told me to shut up so I decided to make a career out of it and joined a boys band when I was 14. The band was a success and from there, there was no turning back.

Your music career took off when you won the first ever South African TRACE Music Stars competition. What can you tell us about this experience?

It was the pilot of the show so I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t have cable so I wasn’t familiar with the channel and I didn’t know who Wyclef Jean was. All I had was a brochure my friend sent me saying you can call, sing and win something. The first audition was literally on the phone, then they went through the thousands of calls and invited people to the real audition, and from there to the actual TV show. It was fun, I never really won anything before. The part that I will never forget and I think was the part that changed my life was the conversations I had with Wyclef after I won, he showered me with compliments and encouragement and told me I had to come to New York to work with him.

Then you moved to America and you first signed to Akon’s label before starting releasing music as an independent artist. What has changed for you since you decided to keep moving forward on your own as an artist?

Being signed to Akon had a lot of benefits and it opened a lot of doors for me, but then it was time to take things to the next level, and I needed my freedom to do so.

How would you personally describe yourself as artist and your music style? Would you say that your cultural roots have influenced your sound somehow?

Let’s say that if Enrique Iglesias, Michael Jackson and George Michael had a baby, in the Middle East, that would be me. Growing up, my mom always used to play a lot of Middle Eastern music and you hear it in the way I sing today. My jam was pop on MTV so the mix between the two is pretty much what I’m doing today.

Was it challenging to find yourself sonically and lyrically?

Oh yes, and I’m still searching. It’s a never-ending process. I have a few dominant layers in my personality so you can literally divide my song collection accordingly.

You released last month your track ‘’Genie in a Bottle’’. Could you tell us about a bit about how it came to life? 

Well, you know it’s a 90s cover originally done by Christina Aguilera. I played my version of the song in my love shoes in LA and the crowd really liked it so we decided to put it out…

What can we expect from your upcoming sounds and music work?

I just dropped a new original song called “Right Now which is a collaboration I did with my boy Max Stark, produced by Phynx. We had a late night session on a Saturday, we started jamming and this song came to life. It was one of those sessions that you didn’t care about, we were just there for the love of music and of course when you‘re not trying, then the best things happen.

What effect do you want your work as an artist to have on people? 

As an artist, I’d like to promote self love and acceptance. Insecurity is the biggest disease of our generation and it’s effecting everything you do. When you love yourself, with your imperfections, then you’ll be able to love others, and by loving others you’ll be able to contribute and give back to the world. With my sound, I’d like people to feel free, feel sexy, feel empowered and really just connect with the different parts of their emotions.

What has been the biggest lesson you have learned since you started music?

The biggest thing I’ve learned and I am still working on is letting go of control. You can plan and strategize, but you never know what’s really going to happen so you would rather not be attached to the end result and enjoy the process while you can. Patience is another thing I’m still trying to learn.

How do you envision the rest of your journey in the music world?

Have you seen Bohemian Rhapsody? So pretty much like that, just with a happy ending.

Would you have any goals you’d like to accomplish in the near future, or specifically in 2019?

I have 4 EPs I’m planning to drop this year, and I am working on building a new team in the US. If I get both done, I’ll be happy! Oh, a breakout song can also be nice.

How do you see the music industry changing? In what direction would you like it to shift?

At the moment no one knows what’s coming up next, so things are open and people are open to new things. I’m going to bring the Middle Eastern sound to the front of pop music, slowly but surely.

Do you have a quote, mantra, or philosophy you live by?

Yes, “the purpose of life is to find your gift, the meaning of life is to give it away” —Picasso.

We are coming to an end. Is there anything else you would like us to know or any special message you would like to add?

What keeps me going is my internal engine of happiness and belief. So no matter who you are and what you’re trying to achieve, make sure to work on yourself from the inside, and don’t stop until you get everything you truly desire from this world.


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