Ozark Henry is a man on a mission. The independent singer-songwriter's new album Us is full of sounds and lyrics that demand to be thought about, leaving the listener with an impression well after the record has finished playing. AXS conducted an email interview with Henry to discuss just what went into the making of such a complex album and how he became the artist he is today. Learn more about Us below, and watch the accompanying music video for "A Dream That Never Stops" by using the media player included with this article.
AXS: Your new album Us has a lot to offer both sonically and lyrically. What stands out to you most from the record? Where should listeners start?
Ozark Henry (OH): What stands out is my hope that humanity will survive, that we’ll have the courage to stop climate change, to choose life, choose humanity, choose us.
“A Dream That Never Stops”, “Uno Di Noi”, [and] “I’ve Always Hated Watching You Leave” are highlights for me. The lyrics are quite direct and speak for themselves. “Uno Di Noi” and “I’ve Always Hated Watching You Leave” were triggered by stories of people I met during Bike for Africa in early 2016. Their dreams and expectations based on their view on the western world was an eye-opener. They were all ready to risk their live to share our wonderful ideals. Little did they know that it’s a life-risking journey.
"Elliot" reflects on how the French and English government dealt with the jungle in Calais when more and more young Immigrants jumped to their death trying to get on a train to England. They both agreed on building higher fences. their civilized answer to a humanitarian crisis. “A Dream That Never Stops” is a song about the way that words can be used to cut each other down. It is meant to shine a light on the way our leaders use social media and headlines to distract us from the truth.
AXS: What was the creative process for the record?
OH: A tune, a line, a theme can come to me anytime and I’m always open to any inspiration. What has changed through time is that I have to capture it straight away. It is very liberating to let go even during a process of writing. The old ideas never block the new ones. More than a skill, it’s a way of living.
AXS: Speaking of living, how did music become such an important part of your life? Was it something you grew up with or something that was acquired later?
OH: Music was always a big deal since I was a kid. Music was as essential as food. And though my father was a classical composer, I never thought of it as a career choice. It became my career by chance. I was working for a theatre company as a designer and decided to add to some soundscapes which became quite liked. At one of the performances someone from Sony came up to me asking about the music and promptly offered me a record deal. At that time I didn’t know what to do with my life, although music was the obvious path for me. It’s my language, it’s in my blood.
AXS: Was there any one artist who left a particular impression on you in your career.
OH: There are many of them, but for sure David Bowie is more special to me than others. He was a fan of my debut album and when meeting him he gave me the courage to hold on to my own musical identity.
AXS: You've done some European touring for the record. Can you talk about that, and if you're going to bring the tour to the United States?
OH: I started in Europe in April and have been on the road since. I chose to premiere Us in Brussels, Amsterdam, Milan and Rome. I’m planning to tour Europe in the fall, and I’m surely looking forward to performing in the U.S. I would love to play at festivals like Coachella, as well as festivals that have a positive impact on the world like the Global Citizen Festival or the Blackout Festival.
AXS: Ultimately, what do you hope that Us leaves listeners with?
OH: I want to give people the hope and courage to choose and care for one another, our climate, the world we live in, peace. The latest innovations show what man is capable of and give me the courage that we have what it takes to deal with difficult and complex issues. It’s just a matter of courage.
Us is now available on iTunes.
For more on Ozark Henry, visit his artist page on AXS.