Owen Plant Interview

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Owen Plant claims he feels more in his element with “people scowling” at him while busking. Somehow I don’t believe this. As Owen performed at the Acoustic Basement stage at Warped Tour Uniondale this past Saturday, he seemed totally in his element. At moments he would close his eyes while playing, seeming to be in his own world. It was like the audience was getting a sneak peak into the world of Owen Plant. It was an intimate affair, his performance. Like we were in his living room. Comfortable, easy going, calm was his demeanor. But his performance was powerful, catchy, and energetic. His vocals were ever so clear and eloquent. His dancing was amusing. His entire set was a pleasure to watch as was talking to Owen afterwards. Incredibly approachable and always with a smile on his face, Owen Plant is someone to see perform live. Keep reading for our interview with Owen Plant!

Can you go into your background and give a little history of yourself?
Owen: Absolutely. Well I was born in Jamaica and I was raised there until I was a teenager. That’s where I started doing music. Then we came to L.A. and then I went to Boston and Mississippi and Spain. [laughs] I’ve been kind of a gypsy guy. And from all of those travels I think I’ve created a pretty unique mixture of sounds in the songs that I write which is influenced by Caribbean music, influenced by American folk a lot, and also just pop sounds and world music.

Have you always been musical?
Owen: Yeah, from very young. It was when I started taking piano lessons like most people like seven years old.

Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
Owen: Usually from neurosis and pain [laughs]. But also from happiness, from observing life, what people do, how people act. I tent to write, “Oh what’s gonna happen,” and then the chorus comes and then it’s “it’s all gonna be alright” kind of thing. It depends on the song. It all kind of varies.

Do you go into an album with a specific sound that the album will sound like? Or is it a very natural process?
Owen: That’s a very good question and I tried to do that two years ago and we shelved the album [laughs]. So I’ve always just done it, whatever’s there that’s been written at the time and I put them all together. This last album I just happen to get lucky, there’s only two songs that sound a little out of place but they also sound coolly out of place. It’s almost as if this album was meant to be but I didn’t put any thought into it. It happened over the course of a year with three different producers, two different studios, and it just happened to come out cohesive. I leave a lot to chance but maybe one day I’ll do a concept album. [laughs]

Those are really hard to do though.
Owen: Yeah they are! They are. Well you have to have a lot of time. I’m self managed for the most part, I’ve had a few managers throughout the years, but if you’re also doing your business side of stuff, you write when you can.

You said you spent a year writing your album?
Owen: Yeah, pitch patchy. On and off, it didn’t take an actual year. [laughs]

Did that change the way it sounded because it was done over such a long amount of time?
Owen: Yeah, absolutely. But that’s why you have producers and people remix as it happens and you have a mastering engineer that smooths everything out so it can sound like one effort.

How has your experience been on Warped?
Owen: it’s been great. It’s like we’re carnies all of a sudden. Like a traveling carnival. It feels like a summer camp feeling only we will actually stay in touch because we’re all adults [laughs]. My bus is so fun and the stage manager who runs that stage (Acoustic Basement stage) is so awesome. And Kevin Lyman, who runs the whole thing, who discovered me for this directly, he saw me playing, he’s really personable. There’s no one that’s off limits. Some of the bands are off limits but that’s their deal [laughs] but for the most part, everyone is in the mix together. It’s really cool.

Kevin Lyman discovered you?
Owen: Yeah!

Can you elaborate?
Owen: Yeah, I was in Santa Barbara and he saw me playing a showcase for New Noise Santa Barbara which is an annual music festival and conference. He was speaking at that conference. He asked the guys at the conference, “Where do I tonight with my wife just to be chill” and they’re like “Go to the Owen Plant show” and he’s like “Okay.” And he went and he booked me right then and there for the Acoustic Basement. It was very cool. Now I get to network and hang out, it’s cool.

Have you been checking out any of the other acts?
Owen: Yeah, I discovered Streetlight Manifesto. I’m actually good friends with the trombone player now. We hang out and go jogging. They are amazing. I didn’t know who they were before but right up my alley of course, being ska and everything. Anthony Raneri is amazing, Bayside guy, is phenomenal. Great guy too.

Have you had a warm reception coming onto Warped?
Owen: Depends on the day. I’ve noticed the days melt together but there were a few markets that were like “We are here to hear screamo and nothing else” and you could feel that. But for the most part, I’ve had a really good reception. There’s only one day that I can remember where I actually got off the stage with a microphone and didn’t scream in a bad way but screamed at the crowd and say “Hey! I got one song left! Open up your minds and come in!” And they did, they were like “okay” but I haven’t had to do that otherwise, people just come.


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Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (She's basically a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

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