March 9, 2010

OONA Interview

I interviewed Oona Garthwaite of OONA as the band prepares to play San Francisco's Independent later this month. If you want to hear OONA, go to Bandcamp for a free download!

Quickcrit: Do you have any plans to release a full-length album any time soon?

Oona Garthwaite: Yes! It’s called Shhhhout! Some of it has never been heard… I am so excited to unleash it!!

QC:Many of your fans discovered you through So You Think You Can Dance, tell me about the experience of having your music aired on national television.

OG: Ohhhh it was magnificent. The night “Tore My Heart” first aired on SYTYCD I got an email from an old friend I’d had a falling out with in high school – she saw the show, and her son loved the song. I got to be part of her life again for that moment, I am so glad she shared the story with me. Then when they reprised the performance in the final showing, Dave [Tweedie, co-writer & producer, drums live] and I were invited to attend – we got to meet Sonya Tayeh (choreographer) and the dancers, Ellenore Scott and Jakob Karr… hearing it in the theater, and seeing the audience’s response firsthand was very powerful, hit me like a lightning bolt.

QC: The first time I saw you perform was in a tiny bar, but later this month (March 19th) you’re playing at The Independent. Does playing larger venues change your show? How?

OG:Gotta get in shape, that’s a lot of stage to cover!! It will be a brand new experience for us but I do think we’re ready - We’ve worked so hard on our live show, that now the show is ready for a bigger venue. Did you see Alex [Doty, guitarist] at Red Devil Lounge? Boy is a beast, he and I have grown so much together and we have such a good time onstage… It will also be nice for Andrew [Lion, bass] and Matt [Berkeley, keys] to have more space – Andrew has a mean strut to go with his playing.

QC: Which song is the most fun to perform live? Which song gets the biggest cheers?

OG: Hmmm…. That changes every show! When people sing along, those are my favorite songs.

QC: You put a great deal of energy into your performances and it’s always invigorating to watch you play. How do you and the band get ready to rock?

OG: We practice every week whether or not we have a show. Sometimes Dave leads us in visualizing - us playing at The Warfield in front of a sold-out crowd that doesn’t know us at all. I think Alex and I tittered a bit at first because we’re juvenile, but Dave said “do it for real” … when I did, it made me so nervous. So we played the set from that place. It can be terrifying, but when you play, you conquer those nerves and you win.

QC: Who are some of your musical influences?

OG: Aretha was my first, followed closely by the Beatles… for this project, Dave and I really bonded over Nikka Costa’s Everybody Got Their Something – it’s from 2000, it’s a great album I highly recommend it. We took that as inspiration, and sought to define our own sound. I know Queen and the Neptunes found their way into the music as influences, and I had to really study modern pop vocals in a way I never had before.

QC: Are there any particular performers you try to emulate or from whom you’ve taken tips?

OG: All of them! Seriously, I am watching your moves.

QC: Are there any bands you’ve performed with that you think your fans would love?

OG: We’re playing with Joe Bagale at the Independent – he is so talented it’s scary! A very timeless soul, and a great musician. The Soft White Sixties and The Stone Foxes are both wonderful. And the Local Natives. Definitely get on the Local Natives train, I don’t think you’ll find many bands who can deliver those harmonies live, but they do, and so good.

QC: What’s next for OONA?

OG: Can’t wait to find out!


awmercy said...

Great interview. I can't wait to hear Shhhhout!. Heading to Bandcamp right now to pick up the single.

awmercy said...

Did Oona's album ever come out?