Musician/Band of the Week: Oxygen Edge
Musician, songwriter holding fundraiser to travel west
By Richard Davis
TFW Staff Writer
Local musician Oxygen Edge will be hitting the road for a bit in a rare opportunity to perform June 25-26 at San Francisco Pride.
With the high price of gas, travel isn’t cheap, and Oxygen is hoping to raise $3,000 to cover the cost of heading west. She’ll perform Thursday, June 16 at 8 p.m. at Ultra Studios in Fayetteville to help put some money in the coffers. The cover is a $5 donation, but naturally, larger contributions will be accepted.
Oxygen also answered some questions about herself and her music for the Musician/Band of the Week.
TFW: Talk a bit about San Francisco Pride and what it means for you to play there.
Oxygen: This is an opportunity for me to play in front of thousands of people who might otherwise have not heard me play at this point in my career. It means a lot to me to be invited to play at one of the biggest Pride events in the nation — something bigger than myself. So many historical events toward equality have occurred recently, so it makes me feel even more grateful to have this opportunity.
TFW: When is Pride and how soon do you need the money to make sure you can get there?
Oxygen: Pride is the weekend of June 25-26. I will be playing on the Women’s stage on June 26. Truthfully, I needed the money yesterday. We will be accepting donations through the end of June to help cover the costs.
TFW: What do you have planned for the show at Ultra Studios?
Oxygen: I will be playing an hour and a half of music, and my longtime musical colleague and friend Jori Costello will be joining me. We’ll be showcasing some of my new music and playing some of my old favorites. Jori and I have also written music together in the past, and will be sharing those songs with the audience as well. We’ll be raffling off one of my original paintings, CDs and some of my photography. It’s going to be a fun evening for all. I am thankful to Brooke Benham from Ultra Studios for hosting this event.
TFW: Talk about touring with SONiA and Disappear Fear. Where did you travel to? Any fond memories or crazy stories from the tour?
Oxygen: Traveling with Disappear Fear allowed me to grow as a musician and an artist. We started our tour in Florida, then up the East Coast, ending in Montreal for the National Folk Alliance Conference.
After that initial tour, I continued with the band, and we were all over the U.S. We traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast, and then back, playing at festivals such as High Sierra Music Festival, SXSW and the main stage at Kerville Music Festival. I was introduced to many different styles of music and challenged to create my own style, which is what I did when I decided to leave the band and work on my own original music.
The best part about traveling with Disappear Fear was meeting my future wife. She has been the most supportive influence in encouraging me to be a strong independent musician.
TFW: How would you describe your music? What do you think a layman would peg you as genrewise?
Oxygen: I actually put a survey up online to help me describe my music. No one has been able to pigeonhole me into one genre or another, which I take great pride in. Some of my influences growing up have been artists such as Bjork, Nine Inch Nails, The Cranberries and Edie Brickell. This wide variety may explain why one can’t quite associate my music to one specific genre.
TFW: Talk about being nominated for an Out Music Award.
Oxygen: The CD which was nominated for an Out Music Award was called “DF05 Live.” This was the first album that we put out while on tour with Disappear Fear. On this album, I played trumpet and bass guitar. It is quite an honor to be a part of something that has been recognized nationally by the LGBT community.
TFW: Is Oxygen Edge your real name or a nickname? What is the Oxygen Edge? Do you gain more power the more air you breathe? Can you mentally create a razorsharp blade composed entirely of O2? Or can you see the edge of oxygen atoms? If so, just how sharp is an oxygen molecule?
Oxygen: Angela Edge is my given name. I received the nickname “Oxygen” while touring. I was told that my presence made it easier to breathe in the small minivan in which we were traveling. The power of breath is quite important, when (in tiny spaces) you find yourself trapped. As far as creating a razor sharp blade, I believe in the power of visualization and in creating your own future. So, with that, a razor sharp blade may be useful in disengaging yourself from the wrappings of small spaces. And how sharp is an Oxygen molecule? Oh, I am pretty sharp, but I do believe in moderation.
TFW: Tell us about growing up and learning to play bass. You started playing in a Pentecostal church (I grew up in Pentecostal church too, just FYI). Do you still have those or any religious beliefs and how have they changed? Does that background have any influence on your music?
Oxygen: I never had “those” religious beliefs. You can’t quite control the belief system in which you are raised. I do have an incredibly loving family. I believe that my upbringing led me to have the moral values which I have today. These values continue to evolve, and are mainly based upon honesty, love, and tolerance. Learning to play music in the church was like, learning to play scales in band class. It’s a great start, upon which, growth of one’s choosing may occur.
TFW: Talk a little about how you approach songwriting.
Oxygen: I start with the lyrical aspect of songwriting. I’ve been known to write words down and keep them for years until I find a perfect piece of music that fits the attitude of those words. Once this takes place, I merge the lyrical aspect and the musical aspect by recording. Upon this bass line, I add different melodies and harmonies until the song feels like its full musical potential has been created.
I can often get stuck in the small nuances and tiny details, so I try to wait until the musical brainstorm has fully occurred, then the editing process can begin. Some musical pieces are continually evolving throughout each performance. What felt good when creating the song in the beginning, sometimes doesn’t quite feel the same after years of new life experiences and emotional changes.
TFW: Do you normally play solo or do you have a band?
Oxygen: I frequently play with Jori Costello, but most of my recordings are done as a solo artist. This is where I get to enjoy being the bassist, the trumpeter, the vocalist, the guitarist and everything in between … all at once. I do appreciate the fullness and quality of having a band for live performances. I am currently looking for like-minded musicians to create music with in a live setting.
TFW: Do you make happy music, sad music, angry music, all of the above, none of the above?
Oxygen: The music I create can be described as all of the above … and then a cup of tea.
TFW: Do you have a favorite song lyric? What’s the best thing you’ve written? Worst?
Oxygen: One of my favorite song lyrics is in the song called “Cheers to You:” “Here’s cheers to you and your stone-cold drama tank.” Then also, within the same song: “The rain sings to me a lullaby, sweeter than tears on my pillow, the fog whispers to me a dream, your memory haunts my deepest sleep …”
The best and the worst of them all is in one song called, “Hurt Me.” When I wrote the song, I thought creatively it had to be the worst possible song ever. It was written purely out of emotion and seemed rather redundant. Amazingly, when I performed this song live, I found that the audience could relate to the song so intensely that it is always the number one requested song at performances.
TFW: How long have you lived in Arkansas? Fayetteville? Where else have you live?
Oxygen: I have lived in Fayetteville, Ark., almost 25 years. I also used Baltimore as a landing point while on tour. Last summer, I had a brief brush with Massachusetts. I always seem to find myself back in Fayetteville and will always call it home.
TFW: What do you do outside of music? Work? Hobbies? Quirks? Interests?
Oxygen: Mostly I read anything I can get my hands on. Many rainy days I have to be pulled and lured out of bed to abandon the most recent book I am engrossed in. Work is in my music, and music is in my work.
In the last year, I have been painting and collecting several photographs that I have taken throughout the years. I have a strange affinity for lemons with salt, which I think must be a Southern thing, or maybe it’s just an Oxygen Edge thing.
If you tell me to do one thing, I’ll do the opposite until that becomes in style. Sometimes, I have to be reminded that my shirt is inside out, but if it is … that’s OK because it probably matches my socks. Which don’t match … unless they do.
TFW: What do you have planned for the future in your music?
Oxygen: I’ll be touring with a full band to create a bigger, fuller sound. Hopefully the musical personalities within the band will differ to an extent where my visualization of cohesive yet dissonant voices will be fully realized. The latest CD, “H.O.T.” is just the beginning. You will be seeing and hearing much more from Oxygen Edge and be able to keep updated at my website at www.oxygenedge.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/O2edge.
TFW: Describe your stage presence. Dancing around? Stiff as a board? Somewhere in between?
Oxygen: Stiff as a loose noodle strapped to a cloud … unless I’m not.