Osquello's First Chapter Has Just Begun

11 March 2021

Styled in Y-3's latest collection, END. take a deep dive into Osquello's world, exploring the producer and vocalist's eclectic approach and why chapter one is only the beginning.

Osquello wearing Y-3 for END.
Within the contemporary music landscape, the first chapter of an artist's career is incredibly important. An opening oeuvre - this initial chance to captivate and enthral listeners is an early invitation to enter the deeply personal space carved out by the artist over years of dedication and toil.

Setting precedent for their artistic vision, this opening movement introduces an artist's unique sensibility; signposting their approach to the tumultuous world of music and everything they represent.

Enter Osquello.

Born in London, the young vocalist and producer encapsulates a visionary approach far more nuanced than typically seen of a musician his age than his age. Informed by formative years spent studying his father's music equipment and record collection, Osquello - birth name Fabiano Lewis - has cultivated an eclectic style built upon this widespread study and love of music in all forms. An autodidact in the purest sense, Osquello's passion is self-evident. Jumping from Kerri Chandler to J Dilla, and everything in between, the 21-year old delivers a seamless array of genre through his music, all brimming with his own distinctive voice.

Releasing "Osqstock" mid-way through 2020, Osquello unleashed the fruits of six years worth of labour and love to the world. A vibrant carnival of sounds and influences, the album quickly caught the attention of none other than Goldie - the legendary British producer and Metalheadz record label boss - which culminated in a collaborative EP titled "Something Behind Me". Heading into 2021, Osquello is embarking on the next chapter of his career and he is not slowing down.

Sitting down with the producer and vocalist, END. discuss cementing your own sound and the trials and tribulations of success in the modern-day music industry.

You’ve been making music since your early teens – what was it that initially inspired and ignited your passion for music?

A variety of things to be honest - it was never one thing in particular but a mixture of influences at the right time. My dad has always been DJing and playing music in the house, so from that I started to collect CDs - I was always in love with the album artwork and delivery of the music in its physical form - and mess about with the music equipment that he wasn't using. Listening to producers like Quincy Jones and J Dilla started to give me an insight on paying attention to details within music. That percussion bell that plays for 2 seconds at 2 minutes 30 or that reverse snare or 4/4 kick to introduce the beat - little details like that are what started my fascination with music and ignited my passion.

You’re known for an eclectic and seamless blend of genre - what sound or style has had the most profound effect on your own musical output?

This question always throws me off because I feel that at certain points of my life getting into different genres helped me make my music what it is today. My roots are in old school hip-hop but I’ll have phases where I’ll just listen to indie rock or broken beat/house music. I got to a point when I was 16 and I had no choice but to move to Leeds with my Dad until I was ready to go back to London - we didn’t have much money and there wasn’t any WiFi/Internet, or much there to entertain me in terms of social life, so all I really had was my room in the attic, my dad’s vinyl collection and his music equipment. That’s when I truly fell in love with jazz. I was going through a lot of anger and depression then, so when I discovered this Sarah Vaughan vinyl, I felt a lot of my problems lift off my shoulders. It was a completely new creative outlet for me, and I’ve never been more in love with something more since that day. 

Do you find it easy to manoeuvre through different genre?

I’d say it comes pretty naturally to me. I’ve always had an appreciation and respect for so many types of music that I’ll take time to invest and learn about it. Coming from two contrasting cultures has always given me a chance to discover and go against the norm too - being mixed race you learn you have to do that no matter what. If I’m in the mindset and environment of a house/garage production then that’s what I’ll make. I’ll always try adapt even if it’s not something I plan to release - I treat music making as an experience, not as a means of creating a product. 

Osquello wearing Y-3 for END.
The world is ready to eat you and throw you back out at any given second, don’t let yourself be taken away so easily.

After working on “Osqstock” for the best part of six years, you decided to release the project part way through 2020. How did it feel to let that body of work go into the world after working on it for so long? Did it feel like you were closing the first chapter of your journey at that moment? What lessons did you learn along the way?

I remember when I was 14 and I had the idea of Osqstock, I’d engrave the word everywhere I went. When I met my local G’s and random musician heads I’d always talk about the concept and if you’d heard of Osqstock, you most likely weren’t ever gonna forget about it. When turned I 16, it got to the point where random people I didn’t know were asking “when’s Osqstock dropping?”, before I had even reached any level of success. The concept was so thought out that I believe people wanted to go and visit the Osqstock world and experience it as if it was a real physical place. Realising how important a story can be to people, every year I’d compile a playlist of songs to go into the Osqstock album and it was only in late 2019 that I realised it was time and the project was ready. The meanings of the songs and the way the sound moved between the different tracks was only suitable for the Osqstock story. It naturally came together without me trying to force the narrative. 

For that reason, it did feel quite mad and made me slightly anxious when I was dropping the album, mostly because I was trusting my gut that it was ready. Letting it out to the world did feel like I had given a way a very personal part of my life and myself. But I felt so much relief that it all happened with my own belief and hard work; I just wish I could get some vinyl out soon!

Everything I learnt on the way is what ultimately shaped this album. I hadn’t gone through enough or experienced what I needed to at the age of 15 to 17 or even 18, so I let it take its time. I learnt a lot of ways to deal with pain, how to work with people closely and watch them betray you and do all sorts of crazy shit, learnt how to keep your childhood friends close in the making of the music as Osqstock needed elements of nostalgia for it to make sense to me and to the listener. 

If anything, releasing Osqstock felt like I was opening the first chapter rather than closing it. I know that I’ve released music and have been around before, but this was the first time I managed a whole campaign myself and dedicated time to doing things without the help of huge industry backing. That doesn’t go to say that I plan to do that forever, but gaining that experience was important for my long-term goals of developing a generation of young independent creatives to do exactly what the fuck they want. 

How has remaining independent affected your creative output?

At the beginning of my journey, not so much, but recently much more for sure. Only because I’m at a point where I want to take things to the next level visually, the quality of recording, marketing and all of that shit just requires serious investment. In 2020 I did well making my own promotional videos/animations, cover art and even press releases. I've got good friends and people around me helping with the visual side of things - an artist called Lottie Macaskill helped a lot with the vision - and video editors such as Ella Witt helped me make a DIY video which eventually premiered on Fader. You can do things yourself I guess, but there’s only so much you can do at certain points. But it doesn’t mean that you can't or won’t succeed, I’ve seen it first-hand.

What advice would you give to any young person who is wanting to start making music of their own?

The world is ready to eat you and throw you back out at any given second, don’t let yourself be taken away so easily. Push for what you believe in even if it takes a while for people to understand. Collaborate as much as you can and treat every music session as a learning and giving experience rather than a means to create a product. If at any moment you see yourself not being your truest realest version, check yourself and constantly keep your head to the ground. Don’t be distracted by what other people are doing especially on social media as it will literally drain your creative energy away. Stay open minded and sacrifice what you can to make your vision work. 

Osquello wearing Y-3 for END.
Stay open minded and sacrifice what you can to make your vision work. 

After linking up with Goldie on your EP “Something Behind Me”, it is clear that you have a talent for collaboration alongside your solo work. How did that initial collaboration with Goldie come about? Are there any other artists you would specifically like to collaborate with?

Don’t want to sound too sure, but yes 100%. Throughout the course of my career I’ve worked with artists in completely different sectors of the music industry and helping them adapt to something new. Clairo’s feature on my track "Conducta" is one of the only times I’ve ever heard her sing a strong R&B hook and to be honest I wish I heard it more. Declan McKenna, the indie superstar, jumped on a dark lofi track, "Projectdon'tdie", and pulled it off so well to the point it’s one of my biggest songs. The list goes on! I always have felt it’s so important to collaborate with artists you wouldn’t expect to work well with - it’s the challenge of stepping out of your comfort zone that makes you a greater musician. Goldie found me through my debut album "Osqstock" and realised there were similarities of visionaries who just make whatever the fuck they want. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jkarri, KAM-BU and Kaidi Tatham - I feel like I could learn a lot from them cos they’ve cemented their own sound within the music world. 

As we enter into a new year, what does 2021 hold for Osquello?

2021 is going to be a year of seeking clarity for me. Sustaining stability and growing exponentially in the most natural and honest way. I’m working on a jazz album inspired by Bossa Nova and other jazz musicians around London - it's slowly coming together but will only be finished once I find Paz Na Cidade ("peace in the city")! 

I’ve been also teaching people how to produce and write as I believe it’s my responsibility as a musician to provide and spread the knowledge to kids like me who never had the opportunity to gain guidance from anyone. Youth clubs raised me when I was younger and I feel I need to set time apart to work on the community that needs support. A separate small EP is also on the way, just make sure you stay tuned in!