OK Sweetheart is an indie pop duo that hails, at least sometimes, from Tulsa, OK. Their music is reminiscent of ‘60s pop with a hint of jazz in the smooth vocals.
This interview was conducted via email with Erin Austin, May 18-27, 2011.
Dave: How did the band get together?
Erin Austin: Rob and I met in 2003 in music theory class in college. We started working together on my solo project in December of 2006. After beginning the recording process in October of 2008, for my solo record, they began thinking about releasing the record under a band name instead. In September of 2009, OK SWEETHEART was officially formed.
Dave: You recently released your debut album Home digitally through your own label. Do you have any plans for a physical release of the record?
Erin: We don’t have our own label. The record was released independently with the help of Medallion Music out of Chicago. We have physical copies of the record that we sell in a few independent music stores and such but we are not currently pursuing physical distribution.
Dave: Have you received any interest from any other record labels? Are there any labels that you’d like to work with?
Erin: Yes, we have received interest from a few labels but nothing concrete. We’re going to keep doing with we’re doing and if a good offer comes along that seems to work for us and it just so happens to be with really good people, we’ll definitely consider it. For now, what we have going is working just fine for where we are.
Dave: You’ve described your music as a “vintage ’60s pop sound with a jazz/Billie Holiday sounding voice.” Is that the kind of music that you grew up on? What has drawn you to writing/performing this type of music?
Erin: I never listened to jazz until after college. I actually don’t know much of Billie Holiday’s repertoire. People compare the sound and timbre of my voice to hers. The writing style that I used for this particular record was inspired but bands like The Beatles, at first, and then I started branching out and listening to the likes of Harry Nilsson, Neal Young, Randy Newman and The Zombies. In December of 2007, I decided that if I was going to be a writer, I had to take it seriously and actually do it. Rob suggested a strict diet of The Beatles just so I could get classic pop song writing form, melody and feel down pat.
Dave: What are your thoughts on the music scene in Oklahoma? How does it compare to the music scenes in Denton, TX and New York City?
Erin: I’ve only been touring and “in” the music scene for about a year and a half now. What I’m realizing the longer I’m in it is that it’s a very small scene and it’s all encompassing. My friends from Denton play with band from NYC and Tulsa. My friends from Norman, play with friends from LA and the connections go on and on. There are some incredible talents in Oklahoma, Ryan Lindsey (as a solo artist and in a collective punk project called BRONCHO) is an incredible writer, Brine Webb has a stunning voice and great writing, Samantha Crain and Sherree Chamberlain … Wink Burcham … the list goes on. My biggest complaint about the music scene in Oklahoma is that people can get really lazy because it’s easy to live cheaply there. If people aren’t self motivated, they wont get stuff done and they spend half the day getting high of there bums playing video games. I’m not dogging on either of those things … hell, they are both fun, but if you don’t make yourself produce something, they your talent is being wasted. Also, people are finicky about support in Oklahoma. If you get too mainstream and your not struggling enough, you’re not cool enough for the cool kids. If you’re not mainstream enough, regular folks won’t show support. It can be a strange dynamic.
Dave: Your song “Home” has appeared on episodes of 90210 and One Tree Hill. How did that happen? Have you gotten a lot of response/interest from people who heard the song on those shows?
Erin: I signed a sync licensing deal with a company that places your songs in TV and Film. Once it aired on One Tree Hill, 90210 wanted it for their season finally. They company works hard but it’s also a snow ball kind of deal. I have paid too much attention to the response but I assume some folks that heard the song might have bought it on itunes, if they liked it.
Dave: Will you be touring this year in support of the new album? Any chance for a show in the OKC metro area?
Erin: Yes, We are on the road most of this year. We just got done with a three month tour and have two weeks off and are back out mid-June. Yes, we are playing at the Opolis in Norman with Mr. Ryan Lindsey (mentioned above) on June 21st.
Dave: This is a High Fidelity inspired question. What are your top five all time favorite bands, albums, movies, TV shows, books/authors?
Erin: Awe shucks … These questions are the worst because I’m so not in touch with things and I think the answers always change. I don’t know about Rob, but for me, I’ll give it a go.
(1) The Beatles
(2) Harry Nillsson
(3) Neal Young
(4) Randy Newman
(5) The Zombies
(3) Little Criminals
(4) That last Andrew Bird record I went a little nutzo for
(5) Van Occupanther
(1) An Affair To Remember
(2) Dan in Real Life
(3) It’s a Wonderful Life
(4) Anything James Bond
(5) I can’t do horror movies … at all. I scream like a little girl and get really uptight.
(1) The Great Gatspy
(3) On The Road
(4) Pride and Prejudice
(5) The Picture of Dorian Gray
Dave: What’s next for OK SWEETHEART?
Erin: We have another tour starting in mid-June. I’m in NYC writing for two weeks and Rob is in LA setting up a recording studio there where we’ll record our next record. We started recording again a few weeks ago in Austin, TX and would like this next record to come out next year.
Dave: Any final thoughts?
Erin: Nope :). If you need clarification or have anymore questions, I’d be pleased to answer ‘em. Just let me know.
Read more of Dave Brown’s interviews and thoughts on his political and culture blog, Oklahoma Lefty.