Strap on your seatbelt, because OSLO is ready to take you to some Great Places with his debut full-length album. A collection of intimate songs, near and dear to the singer and songwriter’s heart, Great Places is a product of an extended layoff spent at home writing, recording, and experimenting in his native Chicago, thanks to the pandemic-related lockdowns. OSLO is the creation of musician TJ Horansky, well known for his work as a touring musician. In fact, Horansky spent the better part of a decade on the road, until the pandemic ground things to a screeching halt. It was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed him the freedom to write and record in his home studio without the pressure of having to tour.
As an album, Great Places is heavily focused on isolation and anxiety, and it really emphasizes the struggle and uncertainty that has been so apparent over the last couple of years. The time off allowed Horansky the opportunity to learn how to produce, engineer, mix and record all on his own. Despite its acknowledgement of the difficulty of aloneness and confinement, the songs do begin to find some hope in looking ahead to the future with some optimism.
With Great Places seeing its official release today, Horansky has joined us for a quick track-by-track rundown of the origins and inspirations behind all ten songs on the album.
“This song sets the tone for the album. I used some voice memo recordings and ambient soundscapes to create a sense of waking up in a room, pulling back the curtains and watching the world turn again.”
“I had an impossible time moving through the year 2020. This song was the first step in taking a good look at myself and deciding to turn devastation into something positive.”
“I vividly remember walking outside on the first nice spring day in 2020, bare feet on the grass in the backyard and smelling charcoal from a few houses down the street. At that time, it was really unclear how society was going to progress forward. ‘Charcoal’ is about internalizing that fear, but finding seemingly insignificant ‘normal’ victories to keep moving forward.”
4. “Loma Prieta”
“This was my first venture in self-producing a more ‘full band’ sound. It was one of the last songs to be written and recorded for the album.”
“I wrote and recorded this while staying with my parents for a few months at the beginning of quarantine. A lot of this album was demoed with the intention to re-record it later on, but this one is an example of the original demo simply capturing the vibe of what I wanted.”
6. “Voice Memo 9.8.20”
“This track is a literal iPhone voice memo from the worst time period of my life. I am improvising all of the lyrics and melody; I actually don’t really know what I am even singing. When I went back months later and listened through my voice memos again, I felt that this recording captured what I was feeling in that moment better than any re-recording would.”
7. “Blood Moon”
“I originally wrote this song for my previous band, but it was cut from the chopping block. It was one of the first ideas that encouraged me to do my own solo album. I pulled inspiration from some great Chicago artists like Slow Pulp and Into It. Over It. on this song.”
“I loved exploring different sonic textures on this one. To me, the song feels like late fall, right when it starts to get cold. This song is about when I started medicating in late 2020 to combat my anxiety but it didn’t really help.”
9. “If You Were Here, Then I’d Be Home”
“This song was originally written way back in 2015. It’s another example where I kept the demo as the final recording. Big thanks again to my friend Molly Coleman for lending her voice to this one!”
“The beginning of this song has a bunch of voice memos and soundscapes that I recorded on my phone throughout the year, sort of like a sonic culmination of that year. I remember recording the vocals in one take because it felt like I captured what I was trying to achieve emotionally in that moment.”