Oscar Scheller’s journey as a musician has taken many twists and turns throughout his career, none more so than during the creation of his second album. HTTP404 is the result of a three year process that has involved him losing hope in music and the industry around it before rediscovering the passion that started him on his journey, all while coping with major upheaval in his personal life. “It’s a spiritual awakening,” he says of an album named after being unable to find something important you were looking for. “I was trying to document these feelings of disenchantment and coming out the other side. It’s a real coming of age record.”
Emerging onto the music scene as an indie-rocker with an innate ear for pop melodies, Oscar has changed over time, and in HTTP404 he arrives with a chameleon-like ability with sounds as disparate as soul, disco, boom-bap ‘90s rap, and club-inspired future pop music. “I feel like I was born into the wrong age,” he says today, a time where genre is increasingly meaningless. “I’ve always struggled with where I fit in in the world because I do a lot of things; I make my own music but I also write and produce for others. There’s always an issue with striking the right balance when you do that.”
Striking that balance initially proved to be a tricky process for Oscar, who scrapped an album’s worth of material before arriving at the songs that make up HTTP404. Admitting that he “freaked out” around the time of the scrapped album, Oscar was left feeling like he was floating and unable to anchor himself in anything that he could feel truly confident in. Around this time he took a step back and he began working behind the scenes, attending song-writing camps in Los Angeles and Sweden to write hits for major artists. This revitalised him artistically and gave him both clarity and the self-esteem needed to find a new way forwards in his own career. “Through helping other people with their music, I was able to rediscover why I wanted to make music in the first place,” he says. “It gave me confidence in my ability that I think I’d lost.”
Sharing ideas has always been central to Oscar’s creative process. He jokes that he knows music is for him because the guys he struggled to connect with in early bands “are all in business now.” Collaboration became key to his work in recent years, too, with HTTP404 featuring guests ranging from pop superstar Lily Allen to rising London creatives like Ashnikko and Jevon. “Each collaboration was very organic and came from conversations we had naturally, it felt like there was no option but to make those songs,” he says. “I don’t work with people I don’t love so it’s a very emotion-led thing for me.”
This DIY community of musicians and artists came at a time when Oscar’s relationship with his usual sounding board, his mother, was strained when she was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. Oscar was living with her at the time and admits the experience left him in “a dark hole and feeling very self-destructive.” That’s when the writing camps started. “I went with no expectations and the process was just electric for me. It was like, ‘fuck, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. The universe is telling me something. I had to go with the flow and humble myself a little.” While simultaneously making HTTP404 and working with other artists in the studio, Oscar was re-united with Lily Allen. The pair met years ago at a party in an east London cinema but reconnected when Oscar plucked up the courage to ask her if they could work together. Their quick bond moved past the music, however, and they became firm friends with Lily helping Oscar as he adapted to life with his mum in hospital. “This album became a very cathartic process as I spent time focusing on the good things in life,” he says of that time. “I realized that I had a story to share and that sharing your story helps other people feel less alone. It’s very primal in that way.”
“I wanted this album to be lyrically powerful,” he adds of the themes of the record. “A lot of it is about mental health; I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. There’s a song called “Happy Pills” about being prescribed medication that really weren’t the answer.” Elsewhere, the album touches on themes including technology, love in the internet age, and what it means to be a man. Oscar is unafraid to take on big issues, rooting them as he does in deeply personal experience.
“I’ve never felt like a cool dude,” he says, summing up his ethos on so many things. “I was raised by women and have always had a very female outlook on life so in a way i feel very atypical. It’s the same with music, I’ve always wanted to blur the lines between genre. I’m not interested in doing things the easy way.” HTTP404 may well be the sound of doing things the hard way, but it’s an album all the richer for it.