"I’m not easy to work with probably, I would assume"
To date, Otha has self-released two singles. These introspective, propelling tracks (‘One of the Girls’ and ‘I’m On Top’) have a strange, listless energy – they’ve been described as “club music for the introverted” – and have received word-of-mouth critical acclaim, with attention from Pitchfork, Radio 1, Beats 1 and numerous European radio stations. This small body of work has established the emerging musician as a distinctive voice on the international scene and positioned her as an artist to watch in 2019, when she’s planning more releases and a series of live shows.
“It was really surprising,” Otha, whose full name is Othalie Husøy, says of the response to the releases. She had not anticipated much of a reaction at all. “With ‘One of the Girls’, we just contacted Gorilla vs. Bear and asked if they wanted to premier this song. And then we got on Pitchfork.” She laughs, as she does often throughout our convocation, in a languid but weirdly nervous way. I can’t tell if it’s because she’s actually nervous, or if she’s smoked something before I called. Either way, her demeanour is very much in keeping with the music she’s released so far: a kind of laid-back, horizontal charm that you might mistake for maudlin if it weren’t for the occasional bursts of genuinely joyful laughter. “And that’s, like, one of my favourite blogs. I always read that, so we were really pleased to be on there. It was kind of a surreal experience.”
The ‘we’ refers to Otha and her collaborator, romantic partner Tyler, a folk-music producer who is based in Vancouver. Otha is in Norway, talking to me over Skype from a room that is constructed, at least from the angle that I’m seeing it, entirely of wood, like a sauna. (With her long red hair and elfish face, the scene on the screen in front of me is so entirely fairy-tale Scandinavian stereotype that I half-wonder if she’s set it up deliberately, just to see if I’d notice the joke.) After a year in Canada Otha has come home to finish her degree in economics, working on her relationship and music part-time in three-month bursts between studying while the couple figure out their visa situation, and decide where they want to live.