Perhaps now more than ever, the internet and social media have become spaces where we can shout our feelings into the void, not always expecting a response, but appreciating the moments when someone replies and we feel understood. This is exactly the case for Incheon’s OoOo (Oh-net, 오넷), who began writing lyrics and posting covers on SoundCloud three years ago — and who has now branched out to YouTube and Instagram to share parts of herself with the world through music.

Seoulbeats was fortunate to conduct a written interview with OoOo and discuss her creative process, inspirations, and the way her listeners play a direct role in her music production for this month’s Indie Gem.

OoOo introduces herself as “soon to be an adult, OoOo,” and the idea of continuous growth and discovery will continue throughout the interview. Her curiosity and interest in art have pushed her into many fields from singing to topline production, album design, photography, and more. In addition to making music, she currently works as a designer. Though she toys with guitar and piano in her studio, she admits she never really learned to play them properly, lamenting, “I thought if I just held them, I’d be able to play them, but it’s not fair to say I can play.”

Instead, OoOo explains that she began writing lyrics around 2017-2018, and originally, music was like “a dumpster of [her] emotions, and [she] was spitting out music to comfort [herself].” When paired with a topline and melody, her honesty and vulnerability attracted a number of listeners who she says helped her a great deal: “Thankfully, there are people who empathized with me and liked me and sent me comforting DMs, and I wrote my feelings down after reading their comforting messages.” This response pushed her to want to write music that not only “comforts and empowers” those who listen to it, but can also bring people together in “moments of happiness.”

One theme immediately noticed in OoOo’s releases is the overall dreamy mood of her tracks alongside the surprising about of variety in the sounds she chooses to take on. The hypnotic vibes of her music are only aided by her soprano register that soars above the beat, sometimes fading into a whisper as the melody and beat blend together. Her R&B tracks like “Rose” and her cover of the more traditional “후랑수월가” show off the mix of sweet and angst that she manages to blend into her vocals, while also exemplifying her refusal to stick to a single genre.

OoOo emphasizes in our interview that she doesn’t distinguish things like musical color or genre very well from one another, and instead focuses on doing what she wants, saying, “Hip-hop/ R&B, Emo Rock/ Hip-hop, ballad, etc… I don’t know what these genres really are, but there are a lot of feelings I want to put into my songs.” She then concludes, “I can’t really put a specific label on my music and, maybe, it’s that diversity that characterizes it [best].”

When asked about her song writing process, OoOo made clear that feeling comes first, and she shapes her toplines, melodies, and lyrics around conveying her own complex thoughts that she is trying to sort out herself:

Truthfully, I write songs as a way to release my emotions. I really like dreamy atmospheres… Instead of theories or arrangement, I rely on my intuition to express what I’m trying to say — like I’m writing in my diary and trying to express the feelings inside.

OoOo is very frank about doing what she wants and not restricting herself to any single genre or style, saying, “If I like it, I use it.” That same confidence is expressed when asked about her favorite releases thus far, where she responds, “truthfully, I like them all and that’s why I release them.” Yet, there is a distinct apprehension in both her music and her discussion of her talent. Like many artists, making music is OoOo’s way of trying to understand her own thoughts and show parts of herself that are not easily expressed in everyday life. Some tracks like “Ocean” and “How About You?” have upbeat rhythms and melodies, while others like “Youth” lull in a nostalgic darkness characteristic of vaporwave. Yet, underneath each mood, is a kind of vulnerability that is distinguished by her vocals and lyrics. This dichotomy led OoOo to choose the deceptively upbeat “Alone” as the track she thinks best represents her as an artist.

There are still so many sides of my music I want to do and haven’t shown yet, but out of all the songs that are currently released, I think I express myself well in “천애고독 (Alone).” I put my feelings of loneliness and depression into this song. I know that others can be tainted by my feelings of depression, and that’s not something I want. At that time, I was in a lonely situation, without anyone to talk to and no human interaction aside from making music.  I am a little better now, but those feelings still linger.

And truthfully, whether or not the songs are based on truth or fiction, I insert my own character into the situation. I think that if you read the lyrics, you will be able to uncover who I am. 

OoOo’s openness about her feelings of isolation makes her choice of the band version of her track “fuxxing love” as her favorite release so far all the more significant. In addition to loving the feeling of working with a band, she reflects that producers cossof and ASLOW introduced her to new people and took good care of her. She elaborates that, “after [meeting everyone], I reached out to the producers often, and as the lonely parts of me started to be filled, the song’s quality also improved.” OoOo is eager to meet even more artists “in the same boat” as her in the industry, not only to learn more about music production, but also to learn through exchanging ideas as they make music together. At the same time, she appreciates that her indie status gives her free reign to try any kind of music — or work with anyone — she wants before an agency limits her creatively.

I think I’ll try doing whatever I want and show it while I can, before I’m restricted by an agency.

Of course, breaking into the music industry at such a young is no easy feat. It was surprising to learn that despite the multiple features and collaborating producers listed on her tracks, most of the people she works with are fans who she first reached out to via social media or email. Music production is expensive, and OoOo admits that she is grateful to those who have agreed to work with her because she believes that she has “been able to make good music” because of them. OoOo’s activeness on social media, as well, has helped her cultivate a warm relationship with fans and other artists over the years.

As a fan of multiple genres and artists, OoOo cites wildberry as a singer whose voice and style she admires, recommending “Night Sea” from her most recent album. Beyond recommendations, OoOo is no stranger to covers. So, it’s easy to see which songs have caught her attention on both her YouTube and Soundcloud with covers ranging from Anne-Marie‘s “2002” to IU and Suga‘s “Eight.” When asked about what she might cover next, she says she is into Doja Cat and The Weeeknd, though she isn’t sure she’ll be covering them anytime soon. Rather, she hopes to post her short Instagram cover of Justin Bieber and Kid Laroi‘s “Stay” to her YouTube soon.

Going forward, OoOo plans to release a single, a three-track EP, and a full album this year — all totaling 14 tracks. For her August single, she teases it as “a summer track that follows the ocean in the summer. It will show off a more mature, summery side of OoOo.” From there, she says she plans to try out even more genres in her EP and full album. As for what to expect from OoOo beyond 2021? Her answer is appropriately open-ended, just like her music:

I think it’s good to be an artist without future expectations. Without being limited by color, I’d like to continue to try to show everything and show variety. You can just look forward to OoOo.

Closing out the interview, OoOo thanks her fans for showing their love in DMs and comments, and promises to work even harder in the future. With a discography as diverse as hers, it’s our best guess what will come next. But, we look forward to whatever she chooses to take on.

(YouTube: [1] [2]. Images via OoOo.)