Photos: Dolly Ave at Lollapalooza
Rising star OSTON is no longer sitting at the kids’ table. In her new EP, Am I Talking Too Much?, the singer-songwriter puts her fears, frustrations, and deepest thoughts on display. It's a victorious display of emotion sonically paired with massive pop moments, an ethereal interlude, impressively sharp lyricism, and so much more.
Am I Talking Too Much?, which has been in the works since 2019, has forged a path through a time of tough life lessons, self-realization, and most importantly confidence. The project navigates topics such as the pressures of growing up and the universal fear of falling in love in just eight poignant tracks. Overall, the EP tells OSTON's coming-of-age story, learning when to not take things seriously and gaining the ability to spot those who underestimate her tenacity.
We had the chance to chat with OSTON about the making of the EP, what it means to her, and an exclusive track-by-track breakdown.
Tell us about what's different this time around, versus making your debut EP, Sitting at the Kids Table?
Am I Talking Too Much? feels astronomically different from my debut EP in so many ways. When we were making my first project, Sitting at the Kids Table, I was really focused on creating a project and getting it out into the world rather quickly. The songs were written and produced with a very fast turnaround, and because I was so new to the industry, I was more than okay with that.
After that project came out, I started really digging into my artistry. Since Am I Talking Too Much? was written over the course of two-and-a-half-ish years, I got to choose exactly which songs I felt described this second chapter of my musical life. I went through some huge life changes while writing this EP, and I think that's very apparent in the story arch of this project.
Taking "last time pt. II" into consideration, do you feel Am I Talking Too Much? is a continuation of the topics explored in Sitting at the Kids Table or does it exist in your head as a separate entity entirely?
This EP feels like an entirely new chapter of my life, just as I hope the next generation of music I put out can serve as something completely new. This project follows me on a journey of moving away from home, shedding toxic relationships and old layers that used to hold me back, and learning not to define myself by how others view me (or at least trying not to). Other than the name "last time pt. ii," the two songs live as their own entities, and I'm really excited for listeners to discover that.
You have some special collaborators who worked on the EP, can you tell us about your creative journey with everyone who helped this project come to life?
I was lucky enough to get to work with some of my closest friends and collaborators on this project, which is part of the reason it's so special to me. My boyfriend, Drew, executive produced the whole project (with me staring over his shoulder the whole time). Our great friend, Nydge, came in on two of the songs ("Am I Talking Too Much?" and "Sour") to help spice up the direction a bit. I also co-wrote a few of the songs with my friends JORDY, lixa, and Mr. Popular - who all helped bring the crazy stories inside my head to life.
What are some of your goals for 2021, if any? Or are you just taking things day by day?
2021 has been an absolutely crazy year for me so far, and I'm lucky enough to say that I've already reached a lot of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. For starters, finishing up and releasing this EP has been an enormous box on my to-do list, so finally having it out in the world is a huge accomplishment in itself.
Last weekend, I experienced a crazy, unexpected run of shows - I opened for Omar Apollo at the Metro in Chicago for a Lollapalooza aftershow, and then stepped into the official lineup of Lollapalooza on Friday at the Lake Shore Stage. I hadn't even imagined playing my first music festival for another year or two! Another bucket list goal of mine has been to go on a support tour with another artist, and I'll be joining my great friend JORDY on his "Mind Games" tour in the fall!
What do you want listeners to take away from listening to Am I Talking Too Much?
If you listen to this EP and take anything with you, I hope it's the understanding that there is always room to make mistakes, and nobody ever gets everything right the first time around. We all live through our own tragedies, and that's what makes us the badass people that we are.
Would you mind breaking down each track on the project for us?
"Am I Talking Too Much?"
This was actually the first song we wrote for this project. At the time, I was thinking it would just be a single, but I could never get over the idea of a whole body of work called "Am I Talking Too Much?." It just felt so fitting with who I am as a person.
The concept came from a date where I was talking with this guy, and he turned to me and said, "Wow, you sure talk a lot don't you?" I walked away reflecting on how talking "too much" and overthinking are such big characteristics of mine. But, it's also a part of what makes me who I am, and I realized that maybe the people who love and accept me for that are the people I really want in my life anyways.
"Hypocrite!" was such a fun and quick one to write that came from one day in the studio with the amazing writer/producer Mr. Popular. We started talking and joking about the stereotypical "shitty ex" that gaslights you and tries to make you think that everything they do is somehow your fault. It was particularly fun and therapeutic for me because I got to pull from multiple different relationships throughout my life to create this one sort of evil, hypocritical character as the star of the song.
"I Think You Should Leave"
Man, I love this song. It's such a fun one! I've never really let myself get as pop as I did with this one. Drew and I really just aimed to have a fun time writing this one and wanted it to be as out-there as it could. I'd call this the "party anthem" of the project, telling off all the haters and mansplainers. This is the song that gets the most hate on social media, and it's quite funny to me that the main group of people getting angry online are exactly the demographic we wrote it about.
"Lie About You"
"Lie About You" was the last song written for this project. In all reality, the song was never supposed to see the light of day. After I got the demo back, I actually really hated the song and it felt way too personal and on-the-nose with what I was going through to ever release.
I don't know what willed me to throw the demo up on TikTok (maybe it was the fact I was visiting home, drinking wine, and feeling sappy as per usual) but the next morning I woke up to a viral video and thousands of people asking me to release the song for real. That same day I was supposed to announce "I Think You Should Leave," but my management called me and was like "Dude, we've gotta finish this one and put it out like, tomorrow." and that's exactly what we did!
"Hurt Like___" came at a time when I wanted to write something really sad and emotional, even though that wasn't how I was actually feeling in the moment. I decided to write this alternate ending for my relationship with Drew - one where I had let my fear of things going wrong take over. I wrote the story of our breakup and how I thought I would've felt if we ended things when I moved to LA, instead of continuing to date long-distance and then eventually move in together. I've actually never written a song from this point of view before, so it was pretty challenging, but so worth it.
"How To Feel Human"
JORDY, Drew and I wrote this on a little trip to Drew's old Chicago studio in the middle of the pandemic. We all had a little pink wine (this was also the same week that we wrote "Tomorrow" for JORDY's project, so clearly we were feeling pretty sappy) and we started reminiscing about how easy things used to be when we were younger and living at home with our parents - even though it didn't always seem like it back then.
We realized that as you get older and move away from your upbringing, the idea of "home" starts to become less and less clear. You start to find "home" in the places you move to and the people you surround yourself with, and the childhood memories of "home" sort of start to fade into the distance. It's a pretty somber topic, but when you surround yourself with the right people, it makes growing up a whole lot easier.
"last time pt. II"
All I'll say about this one is that Drew and I wrote it before our very first date. It was kind of our way of saying goodbye to the people in our lives that were holding us back, and realizing what we had sitting right in front of us. This song makes me wanna cry every time I hear it.
Sour is my unapologetically-honest diary entry to myself. Funny enough, this record actually started out in a completely hyper-pop direction with massive synths and drums, but I couldn't get any of the lyrics or melodies to make sense. When we went back in and stripped it down to just piano vocals, this whole story started flowing out of me. I started asking myself why I treat myself the way that I do, and similarly, why society encourages us to be so critical of ourselves and one another.
I wanted to pay tribute in this song to one of my biggest musical inspirations, which is the Melodrama album by Lorde and Jack Antonoff. The outro bit of the song deviates away from the piano/vocal vibe and shifts into a very musical, ethereal space. This is where the project starts to culminate and become blurry - I wanted this bit to feel like a conclusion to the chaos of the seven songs that came before it.
Ending the song with the words "but I gotta go" felt like the best parting gift as I left to start another chapter of my musical life.