On a chilly Wednesday night in Wellington, I didn’t expect to be so blindsided by the raw emotion emanating from an acoustic singer. This was my introduction to Oscar Doorne. With his spritely orange hair and signature white tee, Doorne’s voice slips between the cracks of your bad day, and makes a home within your heartstrings. He’s fresh off a plane from Japan, and after his set he navigates his way through the crowd, bowing in appreciating to everyone who came down for a taste of his voice.
That following Friday I met Oscar in a quiet brew bar, where he fits in, and I definitely don’t. It's obvious from the start he’s still charmingly surprised at how well it’s all going for him. He tells me, “Song writing is so weird, because you’re sitting in bed at 3 am, you’ve had 8 drinks, and you’re writing this really sad song. It’s such a personal thing, and then you go and play that song for a bunch of strangers in a bar on a Wednesday at of 7pm.” He’s arrived with his girlfriend and a hard copy of his album, Cruel World.
Doorne is a kid on Christmas morning when he describes his year in Japan, and how he got from there to working on his second album. The story is told from the start. He grew up in Fiji, then moved to Japan for a year - at the end of his heavy metal phase. I laugh he claims, “It’s like looking at a photo of yourself when you’re like 14, and you thought at the time, ‘Man, I am so fucking cool’.”
The wanderlust came to a halt in 2014, at the passing of his mother to cancer. Doorne found himself late at night having a few beers, writing shockingly raw songs that eventually would make it to his first album. All I could say was, “That really fucking sucks Oscar,” to which, with a calm sip of his long black, he replied, “You can sit around and wallow, but let's at least get a song out of it.”
Following this time in his life, Doorne met with a friend of a friend, Jim Carroll. In a flat in Wellington's Aro Valley, Jim had curated a decked out studio, full of recording equipment. When Doorne describes it, his face lights up. In the back of his flat, perched on a basket, they recorded the whole album in 2 days. The kid's got dreams bigger than Aro Valley, that’s for sure.
Doorne explains the music scene in Wellington with complete honesty. When asked he puts it simply, “When everything is so word of mouth, you can't afford to be an asshole about it.”
Oscar Doorne weaves through the Wellington music scene, and he’s come out on top. Where rappers and the underground focus on tattoos and wild crowds, with just his voice and guitar, Oscar’s gaining respect throughout the city, and as it seems, far beyond. Doorne lives in this generation where people aren’t content with, “Paying 90 bucks, waiting for 4 hours outside the arena, and then the artist fucking off after 30 mins on stage.” He, along with the rest of Wellingtons up and comers, are taking this rebellion against commercialised music and turning it on its ass.