A native of Papua New Guinea who now resides in the United States, O-Shen blends an exotic mix of R&B, hip hop and traditional PNG tribal music that is backboned by reggae.
Youâ€™ve performed in Australia quite a bit, what memories do you have here? Itâ€™s always a good vibe with high energy. I guess there are a lot of Pacific Islanders down there who miss their home and have a lot of pride for their paradise culture.
Your new album, â€˜Saltwater Messengerâ€™, is out now. What did you learn from your previous five albums that you brought to the making of this one?
Every recording is always a learning experience, and I always hope to keep growing as an artist. It was my first album recorded entirely in the US.
The album raises a number of political and social issues. Whatâ€™s the significance of the title, â€˜Saltwater Messengerâ€™?
Ya, thereâ€™s a few subjects I touch upon that aren't often sung about, like bullying among kids, human trafficking, and rainforest preservation. â€˜Saltwater Messengerâ€™ is just what I am. I live my life in and around the water whenever possible and I report what I observe inside and outside of the Pacific Islands.
You worked with Jamaican group Third World lately; has their music had much of an influence on the new album?
I did a song with their lead singer Bunny Rugs about four years ago on my â€˜1 Rebelâ€™ album. Third World are reggae legends, so theyâ€™re definitely one of my many influences since way back. It was a pleasure and honour having him on the album.
Youâ€™ve mentioned in the past that you want to promote PNG to the world, are you worried that it may lose more of its culture if more attention and tourism is drawn to it?
PNG is already losing its culture and being brainwashed by TV, so tourism won't change that. Itâ€™s losing its culture because of lack of pride in things â€˜traditionalâ€™, and obsession with all things â€˜westernâ€™. Tourism will give Papua New Guineans a good reason to preserve their culture and natural environment, because thatâ€™s what foreigners want to see when they come to PNG, not the filthy, rubbish filled, polluted streets of Port Moresby.
O-Shen plays the Hi-Fi Sunday September 11.