I had the pleasure of interviewing O&O, one of the most exciting emerging Americana/folk duos, comprised of Colorado-native, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Obadiah Jones, and Israeli vocalist, Orian Peled; now based together in London.
“The shared dream of a career in music led us both halfway across the world to the classrooms of Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), where we met for the first time.”
While performing together in various projects during their three-year course, O&O established their deep connection as a songwriting partnership and had the unique opportunity of a one-on-one songwriting session with Sir Paul; and have since gone on to receive airplay across the UK and appeared at major festivals including Country to Country (C2C) at the O2 Arena.
Their continued success has certainly included a fair share of adversity along the way. We discussed some of the things they both focus on to stay mentally tough when life knocks them down.
Check out the full interview below!
Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s show everyone you’re a normal human being. What are your hobbies, favorite places to visit, pet peeves? Tell us about YOU when you’re not at the office.
“We do have a few interests outside of music! When we are not performing, writing, recording or practicing music, we like to…
Orian: “I love starting my day with some form of physical exercise, especially yoga! One of my pet peeves is clutter both in physical space and mental space.”
Obadiah: “I am an avid reader and a massive Beatles buff, so I consider myself an amateur Beatles historian. I am quite particular about how I like certain things done, so maybe it’s better not to go into depth about my pet peeves…”
“We are very lucky that our music has allowed us to travel to some amazing places from Alaska and Norway to the Caribbean and Greek islands. Since we moved to London, we enjoy traveling out of the city to explore the beautiful English countryside!”
Can you tell us something about you that few people know?
“Orian did two years of military service in her home country of Israel and Obadiah has a black belt in a Korean martial art called Soo Bahk Do, so it’s better not to pick a fight with us…! :)”
Do you have any exciting projects going on right now?
“Yes! We are currently on a summer UK tour and will be performing at Cambridge Folk Festival at the beginning of August. We also recently finished recording a 4-track EP that will be coming out at the end of the summer. We can’t wait to share the new songs!”
Many people say success correlates with the people you meet in your life. Can you describe two that most impacted your success and why.
Obadiah: “I think that’s true; everyone you meet impacts the path you take in some way. One of the milestones for me was being spotted by John Oates (of Hall & Oates) at a school performance when I was nine years old. I was playing a pretty cheap guitar and was definitely not a very competent guitar player at that point, but he recognized my ambition and later gifted me a custom-made Takamine guitar, which I am still playing after 16 years.”
Orian: “I would have to say my parents have been the most instrumental in enabling me to have a career in music. They provide unconditional support and never told me to have a ‘Plan B’. I have always been motivated to fully pursue my ambitions knowing that I have their love and encouragement.”
Leaders always seem to find ways to overcome their weaknesses. Can you share one or two examples of how you work outside of your comfort zone to achieve success?
“Working as a team has been really crucial to our successes. We complement each other in a way that balances what we see as our own weaknesses and strengths both musically and in day-to-day tasks for our career.
“When we find there is an area that we both think needs improvement, we reach out to people in our community, whether it is other artists or industry professionals. You can gain a lot of insight by having conversations with people over coffee! For example, when we released our first single we did all the marketing and promotion for it ourselves. We learned a lot through the process but felt like we had reached a limit in terms of how much we could do on our own.
“Before our next release, we researched many professional PR/marketing companies and had lengthy conversations with these experts to make sure we had the best course of action moving forward.”
The concept of mind over matter has been around for years. A contemporary description of this is having mental toughness. Can you give us an example (or two) of obstacles you’ve overcome by getting your mind in the right place (some might call this reframing the situation)?
“When you are starting out as an artist, nobody knows your music. The audiences are not always very attentive, and everything seems to be riding on your ability to win the crowd over on the strength of your performance. No pressure!
“It is very easy to get tense and distracted by the insecure monologue in your head, but we have found that practicing positive thinking goes a long way in these situations. We have had times where we both get caught up in negative thinking while on stage and it snowballs, creating unnecessary problems.
“Approaching the stage with a positive mind set means that you can cope with anything that comes up in a relaxed way, from poor sound to drunken hecklers.”
What are your “3 Lessons I Learned from My Most Memorable Failure”
“There is only one lesson and it is that there is no such thing as failure. Of course, there are setbacks and disappointments along the way, but we do not believe that defining something as a failure is constructive. With every mistake or disappointment, there is a lesson to be learned and an opportunity for improvement.
“As long as you do not give up, it is not a failure. And, yes…that is probably written on a fortune cookie somewhere.”
What unfiltered advice can you give aspiring stars regarding how to avoid common mis-fires in starting their career?
“Be cautious of anyone who offers you services ‘for free’, especially in the music industry. Some companies might approach you and present themselves as enthusiastic enough to provide services, such as management or promotion, for free, but in our experience, we have found that there is usually a hidden agenda that may not be in your best interest. If someone truly values their services, they would not offer them for free and the same goes for an artist.”
What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
Orian: “When I was in my early twenties, I had a waitressing job in a restaurant where the boss was a bully. I had no problem waiting tables because I had done it through my teens, but this particular boss taught me that no job is worth accepting abuse and being made to feel bad about yourself. Funnily enough, that turned out to be my last waitressing job.”
What is one “efficiency hack” you use consistently in your life to keep your time and mind free to focus on your strengths and passions?
“In the current climate, artists usually need to be their own managers, booking agents, social media strategists and wear many hats, which can become quite overwhelming when we also need to be creative and inspired.
“We have found that it helps to keep an ongoing ‘to-do’ list to help organize the many and various tasks and then we can divide them up between us and conquer! It is easy to get overwhelmed when you see the mountain of tasks on the list, so it is helpful to take it one task at a time. There are always going to be more things to do, so help yourself by letting go of the need to reach the ‘end’ of the list.”
All actors or musicians have sleepless nights. We have a term we use with our clients called the “2 a.m. moment.” It’s when you’re wide awake and thinking not-so-positive thoughts about your business choices and future. Can you describe a 2 a.m. moment (or moments) you’ve had and how you overcame the challenges?
Orian: “Ah yes, I know the 2 a.m. moment well!”
Obadiah: “I am lucky that I have yet to experience 2 a.m. panic attacks. When I get in bed I try and switch off my brain, because I know that lack of sleep is only going to make overcoming challenges more difficult.”
Orian: “When I have one of these stressful, nighttime moments, my mind is going around in circles about any unfinished or upcoming tasks and this can quickly spiral into a full-blown existential crisis.
“In those moments, I try to remind myself that everything will seem less dramatic in the morning and I try to take deep breaths and let my thoughts just exist rather than engage with them.”
What’s on the drawing board for your next venture?
“It is a beautiful thing how projects that, at first, seem out of reach or too big to achieve become reality when you break them down into manageable steps. This is how we feel about completing our new EP and we now have our sights set on completing our first full length album in the near future.”
What did we miss? Feel free to share any other thoughts or advice on overcoming failure, initiatives you’re currently supporting, any other relevant information you would like to share with the readers.
“We both feel very fortunate to have had opportunities to make music when we were growing up and that is why we have collaborated with national charity Youth Music, which enables young people in challenging circumstances to engage in music-making experiences.
“Last summer we organized two pop-up concerts in London Network rail stations in collaboration with Busk in London to raise donations and awareness for the charity. Every year Youth Music holds a week-long music festival called Give A Gig, which we have been part of the last two years and hope to continue to work with them on more projects in the future.”
You can follow our journey on oandoduo.com and @oandoduo
This was really awesome! Thank you so much Obadiah and Orian for joining us!
Originally published at medium.com