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Pillowtalk: Oscar Key Sung

Oscar Key Sung would been known by most people who are interested in Melbourne’s eclectic music scene in at least one form. His first EP, No Disguise, is just that - his work is an honest portrayal where his thoughts, feelings, and musical inspirations take him on a journey, and you can feel that sincerity while you listen. Shot by our long time collaborator, and beautiful friend Shannon May Powell, this Pillowtalk captured one of the many ways that fashion, style and collaboration informs Oscar’s practice. This is a beautiful example of the turning continuum in the cycles of life shown by the knowledge that his parents worked in fashion but were informed by music in their practice. In our chat with the poetic musician we delved into the complexities of his star sign, the way that travelling has shaped his new EP (and his practice in general), and faraway planets with harmonizing flora and fauna.

What’s your star sign?
I am taurus sun and moon which, as well meaning I have very little conflict between my true emotional self and over all self it also, means i have a tendency for indulgence, pleasure and security. This however is mediated (or you might say thwarted) by my sagittarius rising which causes me to not be able to stay in one place long, or to get attached to pretty much anything. Further complicating things is my mars and venus (love and sex planets) being in Pisces meaning that I am incredibly empathic and sensitive in matters of love. It’s a lot haha. I get emotional before I get mad. But my friend Star says that Pisces exhausts in venus, so that’s good. Sorry i could not leave at a simple “Taurus”. Astrology way too complex for that.

Early mornings, or late nights?
I am a night owl to be sure. But I do like to be productive first thing in the morning too music wise. The middle of the day is my least focused times, that’s when i get out and about and see people, life admin etc.

Were you exposed to music at a young age? Do you remember the first song that truly captivated you?
The first song I was really into was blue moon by elvis Presley. I was so into him when I was tiny. But yeah, I had the “Mystery train” soundtrack. It had blue moon and lots of other songs, I was obsessed with that whole album! Talking 3 or 4 years old. Still have the copy. My parents worked in fashion, but music informed their practice even though they are not musical. Rave/club and hip hop culture in the 90s really informed the work they did so I was around that stuff. Before that in the 80s new wave punk was their vibe so there was still a bit of that too. Personally I just listened to the Jackson 5 mostly haha.

What external and internal spaces create the perfect situation for you to be able to work creatively?
It depends on the medium. I notice the only time I ever write these days is when I am on a plane. 9 times out of ten I will write a huge passage when ever I fly. But pretty rarely do i write otherwise. I like to edit music and do technical things when I am still half asleep and drinking a coffee in the morning. I find it easy to focus before I have eaten or even shower, just like really foggy. I feel like to generate something new though I need to emotionally be in either a state of ease, where I feel whole and strong and proud (content), or in a state of being incomplete and yearning and wishing I was more; sort of desperate and pathetic. Both states are satisfying to turn into something, but nothing in between. I also find I need to Isolate myself to get really serious work done.

It’s been a little while since your new EP, No Disguise, was released. How do you feel now that the dust has settled and your work has been received so positively?
I feel affirmed that if you tap into something internal it will affect other people too. By this I mean it is easy to get caught up in the alternative mind set of wanting to tap into trends or invent something new. With these songs I just sought to give an authentic account of how I feel, and the sound scapes emerged from trying to depict those feelings and scenes. I tried to not be judgemental of myself while making choices that could be seen as too simple or dorky. I did not try to sound like what I have done that has been received well in the past. I think it is tempting to do that, but ultimately is a bit of a hollow pursuit. I referenced things that are close to me and otherwise unrelated. I was proud of this music and happy about it before putting it out, because I made it to my own personal tastes.  

The process of creating No Disguise took you across the world, was this transience something that feels now like an essential part of the process?
Honestly yes. I am far from done investigating the heightened state of travel. Not just travelling though, more so the act of living in new places for at least a season. Of shedding previous comforts and supports. Having to create new networks. To me it is for sure one of life’s altered states, in that it shifts time and perception.

Your new EP and performance at Howler felt like a celebration of, and collaboration with, the people in your life that you love. How was it to work with other young creatives in Melbourne that you value during this project?

That is so true, i am endlessly thankful for the beautiful connections I have in melbourne and the collaborators. so lucky to know so many people closely that I am also a fan of. I am so appreciative that they all wanted to be involved  and work with me. Honourable mentions in this case for the howler show to Shannon May Powell, Cosi of Jaala, Seven Valencia, Nofunovic, Oystel, Baillee Rose, Cas Kirby, HVNCOK, Makeda and Nina Buchanan.

If you could express your current mood in a song, what would it be?
My mood is Frank Oceans cover of “At your best”


What’s your current mantra?
I accept myself as I am, in the world as it is.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would you find yourself?
In some sort of alternate reality or far off planet where all the plants are generating these beautiful humming sounds that create different harmonies, and the air is sort of soft and thick and feels like it’s licking my skin. Sort of like half way between how air feels now and what its like to swim. But the air feels a bit like petals in a nice way. And I have the ability to fly. And like objects are not what they seem, things that appear dense are soft and there are these plants that taste like liquorice. And I eat all the liquorice, and i am eating fruit too, oh and the fruit feels like an orgasm etc.

Oscar's SUKU pick,
Photography // Shannon May Powell
Words // Tamrin Barta

You can follow Oscar’s adventures on his Instagram and listen to his music on Spotify.