Perth hip hop newcomer Oshua hits new heights on debut EP Everything Can Levitate

After three years of sonic self-discovery, Perth-based hip hop artist Oshua has released his debut EP Everything Can Levitate. Born in Canada, raised in South Africa, and now based in Western Australia, it’s a fitting title for the record given Oshua grounds his music and his sound in the concept of not being grounded at all – of levitating. Now just two years after releasing his first track on Spotify, Oshua has racked up over 3 million streams, with international stars like Young Thug and Denzel Curry among his growing legion of fans. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with Oshua to find out how his music was born out of a spirit of discovery and collaboration, and why it’s just the beginning of more big things to come. 

Congrats on the release of your new EP Everything Can Levitate. How does it feel to finally be releasing this record?

Honestly I thought I would feel a lot of relief and satisfaction, but all it’s done is make me want to create more projects so I’ve started two more for next year. I can’t really say much else, I just want to make more music.

You first got into making music during the first covid lockdowns. Do you remember what you were originally setting out to do when you started? 

I’m still chasing the same goal with music, which is to just learn as much as I can. I became so addicted to the process of making a song and back then I had no idea where to start. I didn’t have any musical experience and I just wanted to jump in and experiment. It was and still is the most fun thing for me to do.

And what’s the biggest difference between your music now and when you first started?

I’d say the lyrics in my music now are a lot more polished. A lot of my old songs had emotion behind them but not much thought or an overarching idea. I think this goes hand-in-hand with my production choices and the overall sonics. It’s world-building for me at the end of the day and that ‘world building’ wasn’t there when I started music.

You met a lot of fellow music makers and friends through internet communities over the journey to this EP. How do you feel your sound and style has been shaped by the technology, and the people you have connected through by these means? 

I used to just hop on whatever instrumentals people would send me. Now that I understand what I want to sound like, there’s a lot more back and forth and direction. 

There’s a clear-cut sound that I’m trying to achieve and it is 100% influenced by the people I’ve become friends with over Discord. I think without internet communities I wouldn’t have had a clear goal this soon in my music career. But because of things like Discord, I was able to experiment and record on so many different types of production, from pop and R&B to trap EDM and underground rap. All of this helped me get out of my comfort zone and figure out the sound that I’m happy with.

I went “yes or no” a thousand times until I landed on this project.

Some of the biggest names in hip hop have connected with you over the internet as well. How did Young Thug and Denzel Curry come to be fans of yours? 

Both of these times were crazy to me. I happened to get into a live music review on Instagram, where Thugger was listening to peoples’ music via Fwaygo. I got in on the last review spot and long-story short he asked to listen to my whole catalogue, which was five or six songs at the time. I got in contact with him straight after.

Denzel was even crazier because I had just bought tickets to see him a month before this happened. So I have a friend, Casshan, who I met on Clubhouse. He’s a really talented and positive dude. He happened to be doing Muay Thai with Denzel in Thailand. He just Facetimed me and Denzel was on the other side of the phone listening to my music and giving me feedback. He was actually the one who suggested I drop a few singles and then release a bigger body of work this year.

Hearing this from artists I heavily grew up listening to definitely pushed me in the right direction and I’m blessed that it happened this early in my career.

Who else have you worked with and collaborated with to bring these tracks to life? Were there any local artists that inspired or motivated you too?

Love to Roxxee from Argentina. He was the first engineer I met on Discord way back when I was making my first song. I’ve been working with him over Discord and Zoom ever since. I haven’t met him in real life, but I consider him a close friend and brother. We sat on call for way too long mixing these songs together and he’s had a major impact on not just this project but my overall sound.

I also have to give a shoutout to all the producers that have worked with me on this project. I haven’t physically met any of them and without them I don’t get these tracks. People like HARZ (from Buffalo NY) who I’m always sharing music with have had a huge impact on this project. I get to develop an ear for music from people all around the world. There’s production on this EP from producers like Parker Jazz (UK based), Chef9 (Portugal based), TC (Sydney based), and Cool Poodle (he’s back and forth in the army). It’s really wild to me.

Creatives in Perth/Boorloo continue to inspire me too. Seeing how creatives work here is very similar to how I approach things with my online producer friends. There has to be collaboration. It’s one of the biggest advantages here. We’re in one of the smallest music markets in the world, in the most isolated city in the world, so collaboration is a must.

Apart from the music, what was the lyrical focus of this EP? Now that it is finished, do you feel there is a particular theme or meaning that ties it all together?

The clear lyrical theme throughout the EP is that it sounds like a therapy session. I always feel like I’m floating in a therapy session, with me and the therapist going back and forth on things that need to be said. To me, the therapist is a stranger, so the conversation is as deep or casual as I want it to be. This was my focus when writing each song. What was I feeling at the time that was worth turning into a song?

For example, Field Trip is about missing those ‘fun’ friends that you don’t see anymore because you grew apart, Weightless is about the ups and downs of being an artist, Break for Hammer came from the ‘glass ceiling’ that I heard every artist in Perth/Boorloo complaining about at the time, including myself.

I always kept the project’s name in mind when writing or working on the production. Whatever I was going through, whether it’s good, bad, small or life-changing, how can I put it into words and make it ‘float’ or ‘levitate?’

Now you have released this EP, what’s next for you? Any other exciting projects or performances in the pipeline we can look out for?

I just had a performance where I performed a few songs off the project and I have my last show sometime in December, supporting Lozza. I learnt so much by making this project and as I’ve said, I’ve started to work on two more bodies of work for next year. Everything Can Levitate felt like a good first step but I really want to continue to build on the ideas and sonics that are present in this EP. There is so much that comes to mind when I think of ‘float music’ and that’s where I want to take my music and sound.

Also, be on the lookout for more music videos. I have a lot planned on the visuals side for next year, starting in Tokyo.