Indie artist Abbie Ozard chats about her tricks for switching things up musically, creating in lockdown, and making songs that people can relate to.
When she’s not touring with whenyoung or prancing around in a crocodile suit, Manchester’s new indie rock it-girl Abbie Ozard can be found in the café she works at, or chillin’ on your lo-fi Spotify playlists.
Ozard’s latest release “True Romance” is a saccharine, cinematic blur that blends sugar-sweet stacked synths, and oscillating percussion. The track is a testament to her favourite film and we’re falling for Ozard’s effortless, passionate lilt. It’s the fresh breath of summer we’ve all been missing, and you don’t need a plane ticket to enjoy it.
The pandemic is something fresh on everyone’s mind, and Abbie Ozard is no different. Throughout the course of the interview, she urges about supporting the arts, especially in these the darkest and most uncertain of times. The world wouldn’t be the same without music and the arts, so here’s some more ways to support them: www.artworkarchive.com/blog/how-to-support-artists-and-the-arts-during-covid-19
Warmed up by platform-hopping and exchanging quarantine pleasantries over 5% battery, Abbie and I dived straight in. We caught up in between lapses of Wi-Fi to discuss her newest releases, Quentin Tarantino, and glocks (that’s glockenspiels, not the semi-automatic pistol).
- Cardigan Alexa Chung
- Trousers Rachel Comey by Couverture and Garbstore
- Earrings Neu hoops
- Socks Monki
- Trainers Novesta
I see the 90’s influence in your music and fashion and I was wondering what inspires your sound and aesthetic?
I’ve always been into 90’s music, an influence of my parents. They always listened to stuff like The Cure, and to 80’s artists. My dad’s a massive Bowie fan, so that’s how I started off. We used to have CD’s in the car, like… do you remember David Gray?
Him, and The Beautiful South and music like that, I’ve always been influenced by that kind of genre. Dad actually introduced me to Mazzy Star when I was growing up. When I was 16, I really liked her style, so I started off doing a dark, synthy kinda vibe like her. […] Especially now, it seems to be coming back in fashion. My sister’s 30, and she’s still got the same butterfly clips, and a box of old crazy Babyliss hair stuff. I need to get on that.
It’s been interesting seeing the resurgence of 90’s/early noughties trends recently, especially synths. How did you hone your own synthy signature sound?
I started off just writing on my guitar on my own. That was my thing when I was at uni a couple of years ago. I got a bit bored of doing that and didn’t really write with anyone else, being nervous and scared. Like, ‘oh God, what if I’m awful?’ But then I started writing with Rich (Turner), and from there he asked, ‘where do you want to go?’ and I showed him loads of inspiration that I had at the time. He suggested we go for a cool lo-fi, indie rock kind of sound, which I really liked because it was still keeping in with the personal, bedroom-y element of the sound. Not shiny pop, but keeping it grounded. It developed from there, really. I still feel like I’ve got more to show with my sound, so I’m excited.
And we’re excited to hear it! When you feel bored with the way things are going, what do you do?
I actually had this at the start of lockdown when everyone was posting about feeling creative, and I was like ‘fuck off’. I’m just in my room, there’s nothing that I can… there’s just nothing. I ignored it, and thought, right, if I’ve not got inspiration, I won’t do it, so I left it to lie. I always find that making Spotify playlists really helps. I create them with little pictures and different moods. Creating playlists and searching for new songs that I like really helps, and then I just let it come naturally. I try and go with the flow.
- Shoes Toga Pulla
- Earrings Nue hoops
- Sequin top and trousers HILDUR YEOMAN
- Corset Rosie Evans
Do you always begin writing in studios, or do you prefer to start in your own space?
It was always bedroom writing and then bringing it to the studio, but I’ve started doing quite a lot of writing sessions now, and I’m finding them a lot more productive. If you’ve got someone there to write with and to bounce off, it works. Especially with Rich. It just works, and you can be really productive together. I’ve also been writing with this guy, Ben, and it’s been going really well. It’s a laugh, and you can write and produce it at the same time, which is a nice experience; a nice song journey.
“TV Kween” is one of my favourite songs of yours. Could you indulge a bit more about the creative process for that?
We wrote that in lockdown over Facetime. I think we started off on Zoom, but Zoom was being a dick. We worked together on the whole song, then he sent me a backing track and I added bits to that, and then added vocals to that. We kept passing it to and fro and it just… became a song. That was a cool little experience, ‘cause I always find it kinda awkward writing with someone on a laptop. I avoided it throughout the whole of the start of lockdown, I was like ‘nah’. Because it worked out well, yeah.
Do you think it’s harder to write virtually, considering the absence of in-person vibes?
It was a little bit more challenging because obviously, you get issues with Wi-Fi (like we’re having now!), and the vibe is all on a screen. But, with what we’re going through now, you kinda have to, or you’ve got no other choice. It’s shit, but artists and musicians have to push and push and keep trying, so the government actually believe that we’re worth saving. [The pandemic]’s shone a different light on everything. Even with doing music videos… like when I did the “Pink Sky” music video, I wanted to do it in the studio and get all the band and all my friends in it, and it worked out well. It was a stressful day because we were all directing it together, and just having fun with it. But now, me and Shaz (the girl that I do all my music videos and photos with) do it on our own. With “TV Kween” it was just me and her, and the next one is also just me and her. It kinda works better in a way. I quite like it. We can go mad and be creative without anyone pissing us off.
- Dress Batsheva by Couverture and Garbstore
- Socks Hansel from Basel by Couverture and Garbstore
- Loafers By Far
- Earrings Kitty Joyas
On the topic of videos, “Crocodile Tears” is a big mood. Could you explain a bit more about the video’s concept?
“Crocodile Tears” was written about someone that was upset but wouldn’t do anything about it. It was so frustrating, I thought ‘just do something, stop being annoying and upset’. It’s kinda savage, but I don’t really care *laughs cheekily*. One night I just suggested we should do the whole thing in a crocodile suit, so we ordered it from a fancy dress shop online, me and Shaz […] We did a day in the life of a crocodile, where it wakes up, and it brushes its teeth and sets up a picnic, but the person that’s meant to join the picnic’s not there, so it destroys the picnic. It was funny.
Did you write “Crocodile Tears” for yourself, as a motivational get-your-shit-together song, or was it more directed toward someone else?
It was… directed towards someone else. Someone could take it as that though, couldn’t they? Someone that was listening. That’s a really cool spin, actually. I didn’t really think of that. You tend to tunnel vision when you have a concept. I like that, though.
Would you prefer everyone to interpret your songs strictly the way that you intend them, or once a track is out are you happy for people to build their own meanings?
My number one thing with writing has always been that I want it to be relatable to at least one person, or as many people as it can be relatable to. When you’re sad, or feeling a bit shit, you turn to music […] you might just stick Adele ‘19’ on… or… well I stick Adele ‘19’ on and just listen to it. People can take what they want from songs and use it for their own personal experiences. I think that’s really cool. It’s nice that people make their own [mind] up.
We’re *very* excited for the release of “True Romance”. Could you tease us with a bit more info?
Have you ever watched [True Romance] before? It’s a Tarantino-written film. You know when you watch a film and it changes your life? It’s the best film I’ve ever seen… the outfits, the visuals… it’s just peng. After I watched it, me and my boyfriend were in the car, chilling, listening to tunes, and even though it sounds so cringe, I was pretending I was in a music video. We were trying to think of a song title, and we got onto the subject of True Romance and decided to write a song about wanting to be in the film. It’s such a sick idea. My favourite thing about the film was the aesthetics and how visually pleasing each still was. You can just go like ‘at *makes a frame with forefinger and thumb* any time and it’d just be so nice. I wanted to make that apparent in the lyrics – have the visually pleasing elements of the describing words.
- Earrings Nue hoops
- Jumper Livin Cool
- Shorts Weekday
How did you pinpoint the film’s aesthetic within sound?
The soundtrack in the film, if you listen to it, it’s got glockenspiel on it that goes ‘gloop gloop gl- gl- gloop’ throughout the film, so we made the song and decided “let’s put some glocks in it”. We did it in the intro, and you can kinda hear them, but we didn’t want to rip it off so they’re just a little hint at the film. The song is similar to “TV Kween” in that it’s romanticising what is actually happening. I think a lot of people are doing that, because everyone’s dreaming about being able to go out past 10 or going to festivals.
I miss gigs and festivals 🙁
I miss gigs so much! I literally just watched a TikTok of Two Door Cinema Club playing [a gig] and nearly cried, it was so sad. What the hell, when are we gonna be able to go to a festival again […] I’d want to do a socially distanced gig, but I’m awkward on stage as it is, so it’s nicer to have something to bounce off. But when everyone’s just sat there… I don’t know. I did an acoustic gig a few weeks ago at 110 above festival, they were doing a socially distanced camping version, and that was the first time I’ve played since last Christmas, or something. It was nice, and everyone was sat having a nice time, which was really good to see, but it was a bit awkward.
When you perform, do you find your style and personality changes from that of your usual?
Yeah, I think that I got hung up on this when I first started playing with my band. What do I wear? It’s like a night out every night. I wear whatever, really. I’m past caring now. I’ll put some stickers on my face, and I love choosing outfits, but I choose not to overthink it anyway.
What’s going through your mind before you go on stage?
“Don’t fuck up”, but I always fuck up, but I don’t think people realise, so that’s fine! After going on tour with whenyoung, it was really fun, I was really getting into the swing of things. That was like a year ago now, I can’t believe it. I’m moving into a house with some friends soon, turning the basement into a band room so we can start really practising again, and be ready for a show to happen.