Oshwa: Chicago’s Crush

Photo by Kerri Hacker

Photo by Kerri Hacker

There aren’t many bands in Chicago, or around the country, that sound like Oshwa. Their sound lacks familiarity and makes it difficult to describe, but that’s what makes four-piece worth listening to.

It seems that everyone’s first experience with Oshwa goes about the same: There’s difficulty in getting into it, but about halfway through a song you realize you’re hooked. There’s unexpectedness to the music that’s balanced by pleasant melodies that are easy to enjoy, despite the difficulty surrounding them.

From their first EP, transmissions from the midwest: a real​-​america tribute, Oshwa has held on to their experimental roots but developed into a band with wider mass appeal.

“I think our music has always been focused on melody and been melody driven, but we’ve kind of streamlined into a more pop centric sound now,” said frontwoman Alicia Walter. “We’re still definitely in a world of experimentation, but I think our new stuff is more accessible and a little more relaxed, laid back, with R&B vibes, but heavily focused on vocal melody.”

Oshwa has traded some of their older intensity for a more mellow sound, yet still revert to their past in spurts as is noticeable in “Old Man Skies” off their latest release Chamomile Crush.

Part of this change comes from the usual maturation bands go through as they play together and gain experience. “We don’t listen to super technical music. We listen to more pop stuff and laid back music,” Walter said. “It’s just a natural progression. It’s draining to play super busy music all the time and have all of your parts on. In a sense, we want to be more stable. I think our live show is now more stable than it has ever been.”

That’s not to say that their live shows will lose any of the charms that made them popular. If anything, the crowd can expect more.

“In between songs there are voice overs that are basically my thoughts,” Walter said. “They are prerecorded – kind of from my perspective of what it is like to be performing in front of an audience and how to handle the aspect of putting on a show.”

And according to Walter, Oshwa isn’t thinking of their performances as a rehash of their recorded songs anymore.

“We’re getting more into the idea of putting on a show,” Walter said. “I have choreographed dance moves and that is something I have never done before. We’re going into new territory and it’s working well.”

Walter said ultimately she hopes people become emotionally affected at live shows but also get the songs stuck in their head afterward.

“I want people to feel that we are doing something worthwhile and that really hits somewhere, emotionally,” Walter said. “If I were part of the audience I would hope that I would feel touched. We are trying to do things with integrity and pushing the audience a little bit in a good way.”

Oshwa’s Alicia Walter will be playing a solo set tonight (7/28) at Subterranean with We Were Promised Jet Packs. You can get tickets in advance here.

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