Oscar Jerome is one of the most fascinating jazzy musicians of the moment. Following his first album “Breath Deep” which came out in 2020, he took his time making another masterpiece “The Spoon ” where he expressed his vulnerability and feelings. From the single “Sweet Isolation” featuring saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi to his experimental and instrumental track “Channel Your Anger”, Jerome expands brilliantly his vision of jazz music and this album is a whole experience that will make you fall in love with this nasty and surprising character who is Oscar Jerome. We chatted with him to explore how he created “The Spoon” during a worldwide pandemic and about his mental health creating music in such an anxious time.

Many artists say that the process of the second album is a difficult step in the music industry. You started making yours during the worldwide pandemic so how was the emotional process of creating “The Spoon”?

The process of making this record felt pretty natural, to be honest. I started off the pandemic not trying to write and just taking time to read and practice. I think taking this time gave me a lot of inspiration. I was going through some things in my life at the time and being stuck at home gave me some serious time to delve into those thoughts and emotions.

When listening to your album, I felt that you wanted to explore the emotions and feelings of a human being. How important is the mental health topic for you as a musician?

The subject of mental health is pretty unavoidable, especially in the last few years we have had. I find it pretty fascinating how the effect experiences or people’s actions have on you can completely change depending on your outlook on life. Yes, I believe in right and wrong but there is also so much nuance to this existence, everything you feel from your experiences is controlled by your perception. That’s something I was thinking about a lot while making this record.

You’ve been in Berlin when thinking about the premises of this new record and now you are based in the UK. Traveling is a kind of inspiration for you?

Traveling is always an inspiration. I need to keep regularly changing my environment to stay focused. A lot of my favorite ideas have come about while I’m in transit.

How was the process of making “The Spoon” and what were the major things which helped you get this complete vision about how you want it to be in the end?

There were a few different stages in the process of making this project. The beginning was pretty lonely and isolated. The second half was pretty collaborative and I spent a lot of time with musicians to develop the music. I can’t say any specific pieces that influenced this record as it was a real mix of things, a lot of influence was therapy sessions, conversations and interactions with people, and generally things going on around me. Prince definitely had an influence, the tune ‘Ballad Of Dorothy Parker’ was on my mind a lot. I also revisited a lot of The Clash’s music during this time. I read some books on marxism, another great one on psychology was ‘The Drama of Being a Child’ by Alice Miller.

You also got some cool collaborations in this project and I think of saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi. In the past you teamed up with Kokoroko and Lianne La Havas so how do you select your collaborators?

I am lucky to be surrounded by a lot of amazing people. I could just hear certain people on the tracks so I called them up and got them involved. Léa Sen for example felt like a logical fit when I first came up with the chord sequence for ‘Hall Of Mirrors’. I see these days it has become expected to feature artists on your record to try and expand your audience. I feel this can be quite contrived and take the focus away from making a well-balanced project.

And do you have a dream collaboration you want to secretly tell us about?

I don’t think I will know until I write the piece. But maybe Joni Mitchell…

The title of this new record is quite funny for my part. I wanted to know more about the meaning of this “spoon”?

I don’t want to say too much because I like there to be an element of what I create left up to people’s imagination. All I’ll say is a spoon shows a warped reflection and no matter how you look into it you will never see a true reflection of yourself. It’s important to create your own self-image in your mind and not rely on others.

Any punk or beautiful and memorable moments during making this record?

One of the most beautiful moments was when I first met up with the band and played through the compositions for the first time at my friend’s studio under a pub in South London. We played the grooves for hours and it was such an amazing release and newfound appreciation for music after so long not playing because of the pandemic.

You are also going on tour to promote this new project and how important is the stage for you? Especially when doing music live was complicated during the lockdown and with this sanitary crisis. Do you feel more connected to social platforms? I saw you are quite present on TikTok now…

My music is written to be experienced in real life and to evolve over time. I like to think of my songs as a living thing that will continue to grow with me and the musicians I play with. Social media is a tool to promote me and connect with fans around the world but that’s where it ends for me, it doesn’t feed my soul like live music in a room with real people does. So if you want to hear the real deal come see me play in Paris on December 5th, 2022 at La Boule Noire!

Talking about TikTok, do you think it’s natural to normalize this app as a musician now? Making a particular sound to fit this audience?

I find it very sad when I see people changing what they write for a social media platform. TikTok can be fun and I like that I can make it just focused on my playing but I don’t think you will ever be able to express your full artistry through any platform like that. I write songs because I feel them deep in my gut not to fit some fake shiny box.

Pictures by Alex Waespi