Colombian-raised, Oscar Jimenez is now one of Australia’s foremost pioneers of Latin music – Beat Magazine

We catch up with the esteemed Oscar Jimenez.

Oscar Jimenez is the definition of a music chameleon, having appeared and collaborated with a number of acts across his career. Born in raised in Colombia, Jimenez moved to Australia where he is now based, yet Jimenez is always on the move. He’s toured everywhere from Japan to South Korea, Malaysia and throughout South America. You might know him as a member of ARIA-nominated Watussi or Amaru Tribe, while he’s also forged a successful career under his solo pseudonym.

We caught up with Jimenez before his appearance as part of The Boite’s Song Appetit series on Wednesday August 12. Throughout COVID-19, The Boite has continued to stage digital gigs and performances as part of ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’, their new initiative providing artists with paid gig opportunities when they need them most.

As of early July, the series had garnered 35,000 views online and had supported 65 artists and 15 audio and video techs.

Beat: For those who aren’t across your music, tell us a bit about Oscar Jimenez?

Oscar Jimenez: I’ve done a lot of different styles in my career however my South American roots have a strong pull in my compositions. My main instrument is guitar and vocals but in the last few years I’ve incorporated a lot of more folkloric instruments like the Gaita (Colombian flute), Charango (Andean stringed instrument). I also get a lot of inspiration from my travels and love mixing rhythms like cumbia with Asian instrumentation.

Beat: 2019 was a big year for yourself – an appearance at SXSW with your band Amaru Tribe was accompanied by international tours of Thailand and Colombia. It must have been exciting to have these opportunities. How was your 2020 shaping up before COVID-19 hit?

Jimenez: We had a few festival invitations locally and possibilities in Latin America and Europe, which we had to postpone. Last year’s tours opened the door to create and launch new music including a few recordings I did in Colombia with a local band called Phonoclorica and which I’m really excited to finally release.

Beat: Artists are now faced with an incredibly unique situation and have lost most if not all of their work. How have you been travelling with it all?

Jimenez: Yes it’s been challenging for many living of live music. I really miss the interaction with the audiences and touring to new places. Financially, I’m grateful I do have a casual job at Multicultural Arts Victoria, which I also enjoy and has kept me in good health. At the same time I’m aware of the struggles for many artists out there. Especially from culturally-diverse communities, international students and so on.

Beat: Have you been able to keep yourself busy during the downturn? If so, what have you been up to?

Jimenez: Yes it’s been an opportunity to reinvent myself. I produced a lot of my music in Pro Tools for years but since the pandemic, I got the opportunity to try Ableton and haven’t looked back. I loved the way the creation process flows. Currently I’m also finishing an album for a new electro-folk project called ChibCha Sound System and an EP with Amaru Tribe.

Beat: It’s also an interesting period for artistic imagination. How has the pandemic affected your creativity when playing or writing music?

Jimenez: Since you are not working in the same room with other musicians a lot of the creations have become very intimate and personal. I’m sure there are many musicians out there who love isolating themselves to create and I’m a bit like that. When I’m producing alone I give myself permission to try the most stupid things, which sometimes can be best on a track, or I would explore instruments I’ve never played before.

Remote collaboration has also been a new thing that I’ve started to do with other producers.

Beat: What’s in store for your upcoming show for The Boite’s Song Appetit series?

Jimenez: I’m doing a combination of acoustic tunes plus some looping and electronic explorations. I’m also be playing some traditional Colombian songs to bring some joy to the community that’s been missing home in this moments.

Beat: Tell us a bit more about how you got involved with The Boite.

Jimenez: I think this is probably the first official concert I’ll be doing for The Boite so I’m really honoured and grateful for their invitation.

Oscar Jimenez will appear live as part of The Boite’s Song Appetit series on Wednesday August 12. Grab tickets to the event here. Find out more about The Boite’s ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ series here.

Keep up to date with Oscar Jimenez via his Facebook page.

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