Ona Tzar is 33 and lives between London and Berlin, a pretty cool pair of places to be young and creative. She describes herself as a polyglot of artistic vessels — performer, producer, singer, “visual and kinesthetic creative director,” and dancer. She’s certainly not a wallflower.
She has a captivating, ethereal voice, and her electronica song “Chains of Angels” recently won the Best Original Score award at the Berlin Shorts Film Festival (and the film/song is now making the circuit of festivals). That’s some achievement for an artist just starting out, although to her it probably won’t feel like she’s just starting out.
She also directed and edited the video (see below) for “Chains of Angels.” She says, matter of factly, that it was “low budget. It was shot around Berlin, a lot of it in an empty subway station.” It doesn’t look low budget. It’s really well done.
“I originally wrote a musical piece where I subconsciously sang the words ‘Chains of Angels,’ and it was obvious there were themes of oppression versus liberation. From there, this surrealist and slightly sci-fi story line for the video just kind of tumbled out. It took me months to location scout and prepare this video. One day, in a fit of inspiration after meeting one of my favorite producers, the entire song just spilled out,” she explains.
There are more singles on the way, which she wrote, recorded, and produced on her own, leading up to an album to be released later in 2023.
So, like, who is she?
Should we know you?
Maybe if I left the confines of my solitude and dreamy little world more…
Tell us three things about yourself that are important.
The first is that, being on the autistic spectrum and hypersensitive to sounds and the senses in a world where most are not as fine-tuned to such sensitivities, can be a rift that I wish more people understood as we co-navigate this planet. That hypersensitivity also comes with strengths more so than weaknesses, if we flip our lenses and paradigms a bit.
The second is that introverts are often vastly misjudged and that hard ice can reveal soft insides sometimes, more than the opposite.
The third is that I believe there are those that are here to work within the system, and who are very valuable to society, and those that are not, and that such stubborn obstinance is equally, if not more, valuable.
What do you sound like?
I think there is often a cinematic quality to the songs, one that dances with electronic tones and plays with dynamics that can be pensive or crescendoed and danceable.
How would you classify your music?
Somewhere on the middle of the alternative electronic spectrum. I straddle this grey zone where I’m not experimental enough to be on the far end of that bracket, nor am I pop enough to be fully in that bracket.
Would old people get you?
I was surprised when my high school chemistry teacher kindly revelled over my first EP. It was warming to see how music and art can reach into different, unexpected pockets and arenas. I also understand that many of the older generations don’t prefer electronic sounds, and that is also understandable.
When and how did you start?
My school reached out to my parents to suggest that I was a musical child and that they should foster this. Somehow, for a while, I ended up playing in an orchestra with the violin and flute. In my 20s it was electronic sounds and heavy bass lines that had the gravitational pull for me. I wanted to start producing, but was overwhelmed. It wasn’t until an operation gone horribly wrong, when I was on my potential death bed, that I realized in those moments, more than my own life on the line, I had this deep frustration about the one thing I truly wanted to do but wasn’t — music. So I opened up GarageBand in bed and from there progressed to other DAWs.
Who’s your biggest influence?
Growing up, Tricky.
Who’s your smallest influence?
How do animals react to your music?
I have a lot of experiences observing how vastly different they react when I sing intentionally, versus not so well… as well as how they respond to various cadences and tonalities in speech. I haven’t actually had a chance to observe how they react to my electronic music. I reckon it would be more on the spectrum of neutrality.
Can music save the world? If so, when will it start and can you hurry it up please?
I definitely think that cognitively acknowledging and placing more importance on art, artists, and the realms of feelings and the senses, in general, could save a lot.
Who’s the most exciting musician in 2023 (besides you)?
I generally tend to respect and gravitate toward artists that have their own world and are not limited to one medium alone. I’ve been revisiting Fever Ray (aka Karin Elisabeth Dreijer) the last week and would say she’s one that is hands-on in many facets of her work, and unapologetically herself in her expression.
Who just has to quit and go home?
I suppose the antithesis of the above, but I don’t personally dwell much on that which I don’t resonate with.
What do you believe in?
I believe that beyond atomic surfaces are buzzing balls of energy that connect everyone and everything, and that once you know that, you can play a lot with the universe and the flow of life.
What befuddles you about society?
Over-reliance and obsession with chemicals, same as with pharmaceuticals, deep disconnection from our bodies, emotions, and each other, fast food romance, undervaluing and underpaying artists, and the fact that misogyny, racism, and homophobia still exist.
Where can we hear your music?
It is on all major platforms such as Spotify, iTunes, Amazon music, Youtube… As well as on Bandcamp!