Interview by: Alexie Jung
Liam Frost aka Oceans In The Sky (previously Mugen) is now back with a new alias and a label deal. The artist signed with Fred Maschino’s label Heading East Records and just released his 2 first songs under Oceans In The Sky. The tracks perfectly blend Western and Eastern music for a unique sound.
We got the chance to speak with Oceans In The Sky (Liam) about his new artist name, inspirations and his creative process.
– Hi Liam, thanks for your time! Can you introduce yourself briefly?
My pleasure! I’m based in NYC and make high energy music as Oceans in the Sky and play with my killer band of the same name. The band is myself, two of my best friends Wonjoon Jang and Joe Anderson, and my brother Connor (who also plays in a great punk band, Dizzy Bats).
– You’ve recently changed your artist name from Mugen to Oceans in the Sky, why that? Does it mean that you’re also going through an artistic change?
Good question! Not an artistic change. I recently signed with Fred Mascherino’s new label Heading East Records and they saw there were a bunch of other Mugens. It was my call whether to keep the name or not, but I’d noticed people had trouble finding my music and I always had to explain how to spell it. So it felt like the right time for a change. Oceans in the Sky is inspired by a Miyazaki movie I love called ‘Castle in the Sky’. It’s an iconic film so I thought, “What else doesn’t belong in the sky?” I like the image of oceans in the sky, blending these two blue worlds that run parallel to each other but don’t really touch. I think that’s a skill of mine– seeing parallels in different sounds that haven’t been combined before and putting them together to create something unique.
– What made you pursue a career in music?
I grew up in a family of classical musicians so I was classically trained and played a lot of jazz too, but my first love was rock music. Weezer and Blink were my first favorite bands. They were superheroes to me. I was an obsessive music fan from that point on. My brother and I wrote our first song as young kids, and played in all different kinds of bands. I was always drawn to recording and produced my first EP as a kid (shout out to the Digery Doo fans!). Obviously I’m an adult now, and the world sucks, but my passion for music and production has always remained. I hope I can help some people in the same way my favorite artists have helped me. For my upcoming album, a lot of the songs are about feeling lost and searching for a sense of home. My songs almost feel like home to me, things I build out of my favorite sounds, so I find a lot of comfort in them and hope others can too.
– You’ve just released ‘Song of the Summer’ and ‘Fake Holiday (Remix)’ under your new alias. They both blend various genres so it is impossible to make them fit into one category, would you say that this is your signature sound?
I don’t know if I would call it my signature sound but maybe it is! I love to create new sounds and my songs are definitely hard to define. I’m a fan of so many kinds of music, so there are a ton of different influences on the album. My mom’s from Taiwan and I’ve spent a lot of my life in Taiwan and China, so there are a lot of elements of music from this side and that side of the world. Also, catchy melodies and a big-ass chorus are at the core of every Oceans in the Sky song. The rest of the record is similarly hard to pinpoint, but it’s always high energy, regardless of genre. Our shows feel like rock shows.
– What’s your creative process like?
It varies but usually starts with melody and then I build the world around it. With ‘Song of the Summer’, I came up with the melody on guitar, but I knew the melody was best suited for a more dance-y track so that informed the production/arrangement. Some songs take a long time. The version you’re hearing is the sixth version of that song. Other songs happen very quickly. ‘Fake Holiday (Remix)’ I mostly did in a day. Lyrics come last and can also take a very long or very short amount of time. I tell stories based on my life and the people around me. I record with a simple home recording setup. When a song is almost done, I bring it into the studio and get my co-producer/mixer Jon Markson’s input, as well as countless other musician friends who help complete the vision. I love working with others but it’s generally a pretty isolated process. I was living in Taipei when I recorded these two songs in my shitty illegal apartment. I would go up on the roof, look at the cityscape and mountains in the distance, and I’d go back down with an idea. I often get inspired by life and my surroundings.
– You will play shows with The Color Fred soon. How does it feel to be back on stage after the pandemic?
It’s incredible. We did a tour in May and June and it was like, “Oh right, this is my favorite thing!” We ended the tour with a hometown show and it felt really meaningful. There was a sense of community. The pandemic has been the worst, but it’s made me appreciate live music more. I’m very stoked for our single release show on September 17 at Footlight Underground. The Color Fred show is a secret (haha) but yeah, Fred is the homie so that will happen at some point and is a dream for me. I have a lot of respect for him as a songwriter. I love his work in Taking Back Sunday and the new The Color Fred album is unreal.
– Who are your main musical influences?
My parents (love you mom and dad), Passion Pit, Phoenix, Blink-182, Weezer, Yasutaka Nakata, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Jay Chou, The Beatles, Frank Ocean…
– What can we wish you for the rest of 2022?
Just health and happiness for everyone around me. We’ll be doing our thing– playing shows, coming out with a bunch of singles, music videos and a pretty sweet album! I truly appreciate the thoughtful questions and everyone who listens!