I asked up-and-coming musician Griffin Oskar all the burning questions you're DYING to know, and, well, things got real. After just releasing a video for his hit song "Bulletproof", I had the privilege of getting to know the guy behind that incredible voice and songs like "Hostage", "Head Above Water", and "Never Loved Me", and trust me, by the end of this article he's going to be your new favorite. We talked music, Portland, chihuahuas, and those dang scooters, and yes, he's just as cool as he looks.
Where are you from and how did it help shape your image or musical style?
I grew up in Portland, Oregon. I think it shaped my musical image in the sense that Portland isn't really a genre-specific town, so I grew up listening to all sorts of genres and took the bits and pieces I liked from each with me. There are a few Portland artists I really like, Elliot Smith, The Shins, but as a whole, I don't think Portland was determinative in the way my music sounds or how I approach writing.
Do you still live there?
I moved to Los Angeles when I was 20, and I actually just moved to Nashville about two months ago! L.A. is great in a lot of ways, but Nashville was really appealing to me musically and lifestyle-wise.
You don't ride those little scooters do you? The Uber ones or whatever?
Those things are a menace to society.
What made you start writing music?
As I mentioned I played violin growing up, and not enjoying that is really what put me on the path to writing songs. I realized composition sounded a lot more appealing to me than playing notes off of a page. I learned how to use recording software in high school and started experimenting with making different types of music and fell in love with pop music. That was when I started getting more serious about it and got an internship at a recording studio during my senior year of high school. I was making mostly instrumentals, and there wasn't exactly a bustling scene of pop writers in Portland. So what really pushed me to start writing and singing was I didn't have anyone around who could write lyrics and sing, so if I wanted complete songs I had to do that myself!
Have you written anything for other artists before? Anything super popular?
Yes! Writing for other artists is actually what got me my start in the business. I moved to Los Angeles because I wanted to try writing and producing professionally. I would say my favorite song I've done for someone else is "All Night" by Big Boi. I used to listen to Outkast a ton growing up, so it was amazing to be able to work on a song for him! That was my first song to chart, the first song I wrote that I ever heard on the radio, and Apple used it for several commercials (including the iPhone X and Apple Watch 2 campaigns) so it's a song that brought a lot of firsts and important milestones for me as well.
How would you describe your vibe?
I'm definitely a lot more optimistic and happy of a person than I sometimes come across. I'm not the type of guy that'll talk your ear off, and I think sometimes people can mistake that for being kind of dark, which isn't really how I think of myself at all.
If you could have dinner with anyone who has ever lived or ever will live, who would you pick?
I'd love to have dinner with Winston Churchill. I bet he was entertaining as hell. He used to polish off a bottle of champagne at lunch and smoke cigars in bed, so if I had to pick one person I think he'd be the best combination of intellect and a good time!
What's one interesting fact or quirk about you?
I speak Swedish! I've never lived in Sweden, but I've visited a ton and it's where my dad grew up.
Do you have any big inspirations?
Lately, I've been on an old country kick. I wouldn't say I have an all-time favorite artist or anyone that's been the most inspiring, but I do have a list of my 3 favorite modern albums in no particular order. 1989 by Taylor Swift, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, and Continuum by John Mayer.
Speaking of, where do you pull your inspiration from when writing music?
Obviously things in my life that happen to me, but also from other people and stories friends tell me about their lives. It can also be as simple as liking the way a word sounds or sings or coming up with a neat sound. I've found some of my favorite songs have come when I'm trying to create something cool sonically, like an interesting synth or piano sound for example, because then while I'm focused on that I write lyrics and melody in my head while I'm tweaking it and that can end up being a nice way of distracting myself from overthinking the writing part too much. Overthinking is the easiest way to kill the essence of whatever cool idea you might have had to begin with.
Do you have any pets?
I have a chihuahua named Beanie. I got him when I was 16 and he was 8 weeks old, so he's 9 now. He's tiny but has loads of energy. One time I was walking him in Hollywood and a stray cat jumped out from an alley and tried to pounce at him. Before I could even do anything Beanie fought him off, so he doesn't know he's small and he holds his own for sure!
The most important question... What's your Starbucks order?
A grande latte. Super exciting, I know.
Can we expect to hear any new music soon?
Yes! This will be the first time I'm really releasing my songs independently so there's a lot of great things and freedom that come with that. I just released a music video for "Bulletproof" finally. It was long overdue. It's a song people still reach out to me about on social media, and one that's really important to me, so I figured it would be a great way to kick off this new chapter. I have a few songs in the vault that I'm really excited about releasing, I don't have dates set yet but they'll be coming soon!
And we CANNOT WAIT to hear them! Whether it's writing high-energy, catchy songs for Big Boi or powerful, emotional ballads like "Bulletproof", Griffin Oskar is set to be at the top of all your playlists very soon. And as for that grande latte? We'll let him slide.
What'd I tell ya? You're welcome.
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