Interview: Learning How to Juggle LA and Melbourne With Australian Artist Oscar Key Sung

From touring with the Avalanches and gearing up for SXSW, Oscar Key Sung is doing something right.
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Kristi Shinfuku
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From touring with the Avalanches and gearing up for SXSW, Oscar Key Sung is doing something right.
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For those of us in the US, Australia is a brother that's simultaneously similar and distant and that in reality, until I step onto their land, and probably even after, there's just so much that I have yet to understand. With that in mind, we sat down with recent LA-transplant Oscar to learn about how the recent move is treating him, his upcoming SXSW experience, touring, and more! 

Hey Oscar, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. You recently released your new single, "Shallow." For those that haven't listened to it quite yet, what can listeners expect?

The Body of the song is sort of devotional but also broken at the same time... Sort of desperate but resigned and powerless. Like a heated discussion or something, emotions flying everywhere. Stuck in your head. The ending sounds like a submission, like giving in. A sort of blissful submission. Floating away. Closing your eyes.

You're gearing up for SXSW, what steps do you take to prepare for a festival normally, and how does an event like this differ from the rest?

I try and get as centered as possible , [and I] try and get in touch with why I am doing this in a heartfelt and real way, so that when I am being put on the spot and essentially judged like fruit at the market I can maintain a sense of who I am. That is essentially what things like SXSW are, they are like a super mega sale of artists for music industry. Everything must go! Going once, twice...

You also recently toured with the Avalanches. What was the experience like? Going into a tour on such a massive scale, how do you prepare?

It was so fun! I actually am just so hungry for that level of touring. I really just love it. It's what I want to do.

We've heard you split your time between Melbourne and Los Angeles. What differences do you see in their music scenes? What do you think the two music worlds can learn from one another?

Melbourne is my home town. And like any hometown, you kind of know it like the back of your hand. I'm still pretty new To LA life. So I guess the main difference for me is that I am still figuring out the scene there. Melbourne has such amazing people and incredible subculture scenes, but I think it lacks a rich commercial aspect. One thing I notice about LA is that the big league stuff is actually creating such amazing real art. There is an idea that "pop" or the mainstream has to be low brow or obvious, but so much of the mainstream in LA to me is quite exciting.

In terms of learning from each other, I [can't] think of anything. The scenes in each place emerge out of the environment. Like the principle of evolution, animals evolve to survive in a particular location. What are qualities in LA would kind of be flaws in Melbourne, etc. Like a mountain goat in the jungle with no cliffs to climb, to run with the metaphor. Maybe I am like a migrating bird, chasing the best seasonal food opportunities in different parts of the world each year, then returning to the coop.

Finally, what can we expect from you for the rest of the year?

Working on my craft and trying to get better at what I love. Being strong for the people I care for, but also knowing when being vulnerable is a strength.