An Interview With The London-Based American-Israeli Duo, O&O!
Posted On 28 Jun 2017
Meet the London based, American-Israeli duo, O&O! On June 16th, they released their Country-tinged debut single “Traveling.” It will be released in support of Youth Music and all proceeds will go towards raising awareness about the charity’s music-making projects for children and young people experiencing challenging circumstances.
2016 saw O&O perform select shows in NYC, Nashville and headline a sold-out evening at Steve’s Guitars in Colorado. While State-side, they recorded at Great Divide Studios in Aspen, a hidden gem previously employed by Beyoncé, Hall & Oates and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. The resulting debut features the duo’s distinctive, close-harmony sound with a retro-Americana flare – Fleetwood Macmeets The Civil Wars.
O&O are comprised of Colorado-native, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Obadiah Jones, and Israeli vocalist, Orian Peled. “The shared dream of a career in music led us both halfway across the world to the classrooms of Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), where we met for the first time.” While performing together in various projects during their three-year course, O&O established their deepest connection as a songwriting partnership and were awarded the unique opportunity of a one-on-one songwriting session with Sir Paul.
“Upon graduating and with student visa expiration dates looming, we knew there would be no country where we could both live and work together,” Obadiah recalls. Determined to overcome the bureaucracy, they found an unlikely solution – to live and perform on cruise ships. A six-month stint in the Caribbean ultimately led them on a two-year journey, performing for thousands, honing their distinct sound and touring far reaching parts of the world, from Alaska to the Greek Isles.
‘Traveling’, with its shuffle beat and rumbling guitar, captures the feeling of being on the move, with each other as the only constant. The desire to continue living and creating music together despite the challenges of coming from two different countries inspired ‘Coming Over,’ the 70s-folk-rock-inspired B-Side, which recalls a musical era explored by artists such as Ray LaMontagne, Haim and Father John Misty.
“We both feel very fortunate to have had musical opportunities from a young age,” says Orian, and, after performing at an event in support of Youth Music‘s Give a Gig Week in March, O&O were inspired to further support the charity through their music.
For more O&O go to:
Learn more about O&O in the following All Access interview:
What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for this band and your music? What were some of the highlights? What has been the most exciting part about this year?
Formative. Travel. London.
2016 was really about finding a musical direction for us as a duo. Although we had been writing together for other projects, last year was the first time we wrote and recorded songs as O&O. After recording we took time to travel and perform in NYC and Nashville, which also helped inspire our sound. We spent a month in Nashville and got to perform at the famous Bluebird Café and Two Old Hippies. In September, we moved to London, recently had the opportunity to support the Australian Music Award nominees, Germein Sisters, and we are gearing up for our debut single release this month!
Growing up, did you both always want to be musicians? Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music together and be a band? How did you all first meet each other?
How did you come up with your band name? What other names were you considering?
Obadiah: I was playing a tennis racket and cardboard guitar by the age of three, so I guess I always knew that I wanted to be a musician. Seeing video footage of The Beatles sparked me to start my first band at age seven and we played together until we graduated high school.
Orian: I can be seen ‘hogging’ the spotlight in many childhood home videos and used to subject my parents to impromptu singing performances in the living room. I was sent to dance classes early on, as my mother is a professional dancer, and was considering an acting career before I got accepted to a Music school and committed to becoming a singer and songwriter.
We were on the same Music (BA) course at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) in England, and started songwriting together from the first year. It wasn’t until two years later, when we were hired to perform on a cruise ship during our summer vacation, that we realized that we clicked on stage. Even though we were only performing cover songs, the audiences seemed to react very positively to the sound of our voices in harmony. Our name is in the tradition of duos like Simon & Garfunkel, Sonny & Cher and Hall & Oates. Since both our names start with the letter ‘O’, the name O&O felt natural. Although we never really considered other names, some folks like to jokingly call us ‘Double-O’.
Do you hope to incorporate your American and Israeli backgrounds into your music? How if so have you been able to do just that?
We are really influenced by great American songwriters such as James Taylor, Carole King and Paul Simon. We incorporate our backgrounds into lyrical themes. For example, we have a track called ‘Tel Aviv to Colorado’. A lot of our songs so far have addressed the challenges brought on by being a couple from different countries, and trying to make a life together somewhere in the world. If you listen closely to the B-side of our new single, ‘Coming Over’, you can hear Orian speaking in Hebrew…
I’d love to know more about your time performing on cruise ships. What was that experience like for you? Would you do it again? What were some of your favorite places that you traveled to while on these ships?
It was a great experience for us and wonderful practice, performing six days a week, sometimes for up to 4 hours a night. There were challenging moments but it was a crucial part of our development and we met lots of lovely people who continue to follow us and support our music. One of the highlights was performing a headline show in the ship’s main theater, backed by an orchestra, in front of hundreds of people. We did five contracts over two years, visited the Caribbean, Alaska and crossed the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Our favorite stops include Puerto Rico, Aruba, Italy and Greece.
On June 16th, you are going to release your debut single, “Traveling.” Can you talk about how this song was written and what was the inspiration for it?
Since we graduated from LIPA in 2014, we have been traveling either on cruise ships or on land in the USA. This song captures the feeling of being on the road with each other as the only constant. Musically, we drew inspiration from one of our favorite duos, The Everly Brothers, and wanted to put a 21st Century twist on their classic, vocal harmony sound.
I understand that the single will be released in support of the London charity Youth Music. How did you get involved with this organization? How important is it to you both?
We learned about Youth Music when we played at an event for their annual Give a Gig Week campaign, where venues and promoters put on gigs to fundraise and spread awareness about the charity’s activities. Youth Music provides music making projects for children and young people experiencing challenging circumstances. We feel very fortunate to have grown up in environments that support creativity. We know how life-changing music can be for young people and since it is not always accessible to everyone, we want to support organizations, like Youth Music, who create the opportunities to engage in music creation and education.
Do you have plans to release more new music soon? And what about an EP or a full album of new songs?
We’re actually heading back to Liverpool soon to record our next single! We hope to put out a few more singles this year and work up to an EP!
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you all like to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
We’ve already mentioned some of our all time heroes from past decades and we are also big fans of Striking Matches, Chris Stapleton, Janelle Monae and we’d love to write a song with Stevie Nicks!
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
We hope listeners connect with us as people – our stories and experiences of love, life, happiness, frustration, etc. We strive to write memorable melodies and hope we can be the soundtrack for other’s experiences too.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started on this music path? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
As unexciting as it sounds, practice. As tedious as is can be, keep practicing because your future self will thank you for the skills you develop now. Don’t be discouraged by people who say that a career in music is hard, because any ambition is challenging and if you are passionate about music you can at least enjoy the bumpy ride.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
All proceeds from our single are going to support Youth Music, so if you would like to support this wonderful cause, you can pre-order ‘Traveling’ right now on iTunes or stream on Spotify. We really appreciate the people who like our music and support our journey and we are always up for a chat, find us on our social media channels and send us a message!