OSO, the new project from the Minneapolis artist Christopher Williams, takes the ambitiousness of indie rock and folds in delicious pop flavors to find a fresh creative space on new EP Goodhue.
The album intrinsically begs the listener for time, thoughtfulness, and investment into the overall sonic experience. As Williams, whose other band is Warehouse Eyes, finds a new foothold in music, a gentle and pointed progression in his career emerges.
The singer and his band — Steve Bosmans, Andrew Foreman, Alexander Young — take the stage at Icehouse on Tuesday evening to debut the album to a music scene that is quickly being redefined by similar shades of electro-pop.
City Pages: How did you begin this project?
Christopher Williams: This project started in the studio with Brett Bullion. I’d been writing and working with Warehouse Eyes for a year or so and wanted to get more songs out there and get a chance to sing my own material. We did it all in a big rush, which was fun.
Andrew Foreman was leaving for the summer so we booked a bunch of studio time, did a little “gathering the team” montage with Alex and Steve, barely rehearsed and got all these songs down pretty quickly. This allowed us the space to really create in the studio and the songs transformed and became special objects. It’s only now that this is finally becoming a live project, and I’m excited for that aspect.
CP: What did you think you could tell on this project that you weren't able to on Warehouse Eyes?
CW: Warehouse Eyes is a shared songwriting experience and OSO is not. Two people writing songs is weird and creates all sorts of dynamics and feelings that are hard to control and anticipate. This can be super cool, but with OSO I get to know exactly what I’m looking for in a song. I can write more inner drama. I can write about space if I want to. With OSO, I’m just trying to write the most like myself that I can.
CP: Why do you think you're such a prolific writer?
CW: I’m not sure I would call myself prolific, at least not as much as I’d like to be. It’s probably because all of my songwriting heroes — John Darnielle, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, etc. — were prolific writers and it’s always what I’ve wanted to be.
I took so damn long to start writing good songs and now that I know what I’m looking for, I’m trying to get as much down as I can. I love writing songs and I still think I might eventually run out. As long as I can find some things to say that make me feel the right way I’m going to try to write and put them out. It gets harder all the time - harder to say something that keeps me interested.
CP: Tell me about the song "Worse Than I Think."
CW: The songs on this EP were all written at the same place. I did a self-created artist residency at this place called the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota. I lived alone in this mansion built by a former cereal magnate and let myself be just an artist for a month.
Red Wing’s in Goodhue County, that’s why it’s called the Goodhue EP. "Worse Than I Think" ... it’s not the best song I’ve ever written, but it’s the first one I ever wrote that I liked. It’s about trying to decide if you care more about being nice or being interesting.
CP: What other song off this album do you embody when you perform live?
CW: I think "Head in the Clouds" is the most quintessential OSO song right now. It’s sprawling and meditative and is the one that most feels like this band right now. Steve really kills on that song. Oh, sorry, I’m trying to use fewer violence metaphors about music ... Steve plays cool things on that song. We get a little washy and shoegazey.
CP: Why only an EP at this time? Do you have something else up your sleeve?
CW: I think I’m scared of writing a full-length album. I still don’t really understand what songs are and how they fit together. I’ve got three more songs coming soon and will be putting out material under the name OSO on a pretty regular basis. I have years of songs that I’ve got to find something to do with.
CP: What are you excited to share at the album release show?
CW: I’m excited to share a whole new sound and a whole new feeling. This is the first time I’ve fronted a band since I was 14, even though I’ve performed in just about every other capacity. It’s a great group of guys and I’m excited to share the music with people.
OSO's Goodhue release show
With: Camp Dark and Dem Yuut
Where: Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
When: 10 a.m. Tue., March 1
Tickets: $6; more information here.