Photography by: Sam Hanson
By: Zeke Hanson
Art is a dirty thing. Whether you’re a musician, a painter, a photographer, or a writer, the creative process is chaos. But when it’s complete, it’s cathartic for the artist and inspiring for the patron. For Lara Oshon, her first exposure to the artistic path was through music as a child, “growing up in church, listening to the choir and gospel hymns,” she says. While most people enjoy music, few of us can actually perform outside of the shower. Lara’s love of music led her from enjoying what she heard to starting piano lessons when she was eight. “My dad bought the piano out of the church gym for 50 bucks. It was a total piece of junk and had Coke bottle stains all across the top.” A good instrument, especially one you learn on, should look like your favorite pair of old jeans. That pair that you live in, but the only thing holding them together is the fact that you still love them. “I had so much love for that old junker. I hated it, but I loved it so dearly,” says Lara. “I lived with that piano for 12 years while I was training, so I knew every key, I knew every freckle, I knew which keys didn’t work right.”
Music, as a relationship, started with a $50 banged up piano subsequently followed by 12 years of actually using it. “I really thought of the piano as my best friend when I was coming up.” After twelve years of classical training, singer/songwriter still wasn’t a destination she had admitted to herself. It took one song for Oshon’s creativity to bubble into a career...some pushing, some coaxing, but one song. “Once I had written a song and I knew there was a melody to it and I figured it out on the piano. I felt this compulsion to sing it. I felt like it just started happening. It came up from inside of me and I had to figure out what to do with this…really intense internal pressure.”
Terrified, but inspired. Lara held a private show for thirty-five of her friends and family. She hadn’t unlocked her voice yet, but she wanted to take the next step and sing in public. “I was terrified, but I also knew as it was happening that this was very much me. This is what I was meant to be doing, and this is what brought me great joy.” It was about this same time when Lara felt pulled not just to move from musician to singer/songwriter, but toward painting as well.
“It was this dual channel that burst open with all this color and sound. It really just started pouring out of me. I wasn’t trained in painting; I was trained in piano but I wasn’t trained in songwriting or singing.”
Techniques in art can be taught and learned. But, it’s the life experiences that you just have to live through and build from that develop the style that go with your skill. It wasn’t long before Lara’s style of metaphysics and abstraction lent itself to paintings that were good enough not only to share, but to sell. “A lot of my art is of music,” says Oshon. “I believe in color. I think that color is really important and that it affects us in ways that we don’t necessarily acknowledge or are aware of. So, I think of my paintings harmonically. They are structures of color that are meant to be supportive. They’re typically very colorful…I find that really liberating. They’re living journals of my experience.”
Having her songwriting feed her painting, and her artistic style being fed by music, she felt the need to release a video for her latest song… “because my songs are so visual to me.”
This first time into the fray for creating a music video accompanies her latest (single dropped November 7th) titled Phoenix Rising. “It’s exciting! It’s a heightened release for me because it’s the first time I’ve done an official video. It’s a longer birthing process, as I recorded the song a year ago now. I’ve been holding onto this song because after I wrote it I really felt like I wanted a visual for this song and I wanted that visual to include a female dancer.”
When you listen to the song, the title isn’t mentioned. Lara says, “it was the imagery that I had in my head as I was writing it. I felt like I was falling apart, but I knew that also meant that out of the chaos something new was being born. It felt like this very feminine, empowering image that people relate to. People know what a phoenix rising is. They know what it means, and that it is about rising up and overcoming and renewing. That’s what the theme of the song is. A lot of my song titles are something from the lyrics, but I liked that this wasn’t, that it was a broader concept.”
Artist or not, everyone can identify with heartache and hardship. Picking yourself up and continuing to struggle on is engrained in the human condition. Many artists have a play list or a go to album that gets them in the right mindset to create. For Oshon, as a songwriter, outer peace releases her inner chaos. “I create more from silence. I create by myself, and what helps me is getting out of my head and just being in a place where I’m feeling relaxed, where I feel kind of quiet. Not always feeling quiet inside, because I could be feeling a really intense emotion, but where I’m in touch with what’s going on inside of me; not thinking too much or feeling busy. I don’t listen to music when I’m creating because I just want to hear the music that’s inside of me.”
Lara is also promoting a T-shirt campaign called Rise Up. It’s running in tandem with the Phoenix Rising release. Lara explains, “It has its own life, and it really morphed into a larger fundraiser than I had originally intended because there were so many things that were engaging my heart in the world that I wanted to connect it to. It started with one organization, but then I decided to broaden it to five that touch on a lot of different things that really matter to me and I feel are culturally relevant.”
Oshon has them hand printed by a female-owned business in downtown
You can find and order them here: laraoshon.com/store/
Phoenix Rising single available on iTunes, Amazon & Spotify.
And don’t miss her music video.
Lara Oshon YouTube Channel.
Link can be found under our video tab.