When a child of an accomplished musician makes his own leap into the artistic wild, it's near impossible to keep from wondering how dear old dad influenced the music, and more functionally, did he lend a musical hand in any way?
For Oscar DeLaughter, the 18-year-old son of Polyphonic Spree and Tripping Daisy leader Tim DeLaughter, the answers are easy. He grew up in a house where music was the family business and with a set of parents who enjoy a wide range of sounds and styles. Rather than any sort of direct guidance or instruction, the younger DeLaughter soaked in his father’s influence from simply growing up. As for whether Dad added his talents to Oscar’s self-titled EP? Well, that’s another easy answer.
“Some of the music was a collaboration,” Oscar says. “But everyone in my family has their own things going on.”
Recorded at The Kitchen Studios in Dallas with the help of John Painter, the EP is the culmination of years of growth. Though he's a young artist who has just recorded his debut EP, Oscar DeLaughter isn’t new to creating music. He was toying with song craft at an age many boys are still struggling with Lego sets.
He says he was probably around 10 when he started writing his own songs. “That was about the age I did start to really put songs together in some sort of form, like having arrangement ideas to create a real song with different parts.”
Before his graduation from Woodrow Wilson, his high school years proved to be a time of experimentation and the type of learning that only comes away from study hall.
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“I took part in both theater and choir,” he says. “But then I left and home-schooled, got a part-time job and started getting into the studio with more focus. I figured out a bunch of things during that time, and it definitely had pros and cons. I got a chance to experiment with a bunch of different materials and spend time on how I wanted to approach recording with my voice. After a while, I did go back to Woodrow and finished my senior year there.”
His years of testing out an assortment of sonic terrain have paid off. Although it's only five tracks deep, the EP does indeed offer a pleasing cross section of vibes. With dance-, dream- and R&B-flavored pop making their voices heard, this first record is a sonic biography detailing DeLaughter’s independence as much as simply announcing his arrival. The variety wasn’t so much a way to separate himself from his father’s impressive alt-rock legacy as much as it was to simply show he can be his own kind of artist.
“It was more about it being my first project and just doing what I wanted,” he says. “I’ve grown up listening to all different types of music, so it kind of makes sense.”
“Lost” is a killer combo of soul, rock and pop with tasteful hints of psychedelia blended in. Just as its creator has grown and matured over time, the version on the EP has taken its own set of twists and turns over the course of its own lifespan.
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“I wrote that song originally on piano,” he says. “And then I played keyboard on it as a way to experiment. John [Painter] came up with the idea of adding rock elements to it, so he brought in one of his friends to play drums, then he added guitars and bass. It’s morphed quite a bit. I wrote it a couple of years ago, so it’s the oldest song on the EP.”
With questions about any role his father may or may not have played in his musical life easily out of the way, the next and perhaps most important question is: What’s next? Given that he’s barely out of high school, such a query carries an even greater amount of possibilities for DeLaughter, who's ready to get rolling with it all.
“I was certain about focusing on nothing but my music right out of high school,” he says. “Because I’m still living in Dallas, I can’t deny there are times I think about most of my friends being in school and not living here anymore, but working part time and finishing the EP was important to me, and it’s finally done, so that feels good. I’m hoping more and more people will hear it, and like it, so that my music takes me on tour.
“I know that I am just getting started.”