Oscar of Sundara Karma shares his musical firsts, from service station memories to impersonating Eminem to meeting Wolf Alice.

Sundara Karma have been stalwarts of the indie rock world for years – a regular on the festival circuits and on radio stations, with hits like “Flame” and “Explore” typifying their upbeat, entertaining style. After two successful albums, the band have decided to evolve into something else entirely.


Their new EP, ‘Oblivion!’, out now, marks a step into new territory for Sundara Karma. Their new sound is heavier and more urgent, bringing a little more intensity to the summer-ready anthems on which they’ve made their name, drawing on harder guitar and glitchy synths.


‘Oblivions!’ was produced by Clarence Clarity, who names Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama as previous collaborators – there’s something of the full-to-bursting energy and unrestrained emotion of those artists in Sundara Karma’s new tunes, whilst still retaining their trademark sound.


To commemorate this major new venture for the band, Notion sat down with frontman Oscar Pollock of Sundara Karma to chat about his musical firsts, from being starstruck by Wolf Alice to interesting fashion choices at festivals.

First song you ever made?

When I was 8 I wrote a love song called “Stranger” about a girl I’d met briefly during a pop music/musical theatre summer camp. I think we only exchanged a few words. I wrote it on an acoustic guitar and the opening lyric was, “Your body’s on earth, but your heads in the clouds, and I just wonder”. I never got the chance to play it to her or tell her I had a crush. Classic.

First song you released officially?

We had a few songs up on Soundcloud when we first started but I suppose our first ‘official’ release was a song called “Cold Heaven”. It was inspired by a poem called ‘The Cold Heaven’ by William Yeats. That poem expresses such a raw truth about the fleetingness of sensory experience and death, I was so moved by it. We also released that single via Chess Club Records who we’ve continued to release music with ever since.

First CD or record you owned?

When I was 7 my mum bought me the Slim Shady LP because I kicked up such a fuss over how she wouldn’t let me watch 8 Mile. My cousins and I watched the film anyway in secret the following Christmas and started writing our own raps thinking that we were going to be rappers one day.

First time you realised you wanted to be an artist?

To be honest I’ve always been drawn towards instruments and music. I was constantly climbing up on to pianos as a baby or if there was a drum kit somewhere I would crawl over to it and start bashing. I almost feel like most children are drawn to music but some kids get encouraged to continue that exploration and some kids don’t I guess.

First festival you played?

Reading/Leeds Festival 2013 BBC Introducing Stage. We were so excited/nervous and horrendously underprepared. The trousers I decided to wear looked like they were cut form the curtains of a 70’s living room. Honestly my trousers were probably the highlight of that set.

First time you faced an obstacle in your career?

I must say we were lucky enough to be signed pretty much just as we finished school and super fortunate to have commercial success with our first album. A lot seems to have gone exceptionally smooth but I’d say the main ‘battle’ is producing music that feels fulfilling in the long run. I think our second record was certainly more creatively rewarding for me. And the music that we’ve been putting out over lockdown even more rewarding still. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to feel like what you’re expressing outwardly is the same as how you feel inside.

First instrument you owned?

A black Fender Stratocaster. I’ve given it away since but it was fun while I had it. Crazy heavy though. It’s like it was made out of bricks or something.

First time you felt like giving up?

I will never give up making music it’s too special to me. There are times when I wonder if I could be a better communicator and if what I’m contributing to the world is what I really want to be saying but I will never give up, not until I have figured out how to say this thing I feel in the most perfect way I can.

First time you felt starstruck?

I remember feeling extremely awkward when we first toured with Swim Deep and Wolf Alice. I was 17 and both bands at the time were very inspiring to me. I remember watching their music videos and thinking that they all looked beautiful and really cool. That tour was also the first time I tried ecstasy and I’m not even lying I dropped a pill every single night of that tour it was chaotic.

First time you ticked off a bucket list goal?

Actually on that same tour we had a crazy moment in a service statin. We were on our way to a show but decided to pull in for some food. We were all sat around eating/recovering from the night before and then suddenly our song starts playing on the service station radio and we all looked at each other really confused. It felt like someone was messing with us or someone in our touring party had found the servo aux lol but no turned out that we just happened to be there at the right time.

Listen to Sundara Karma's EP below: