When I catch up with Israeli singer, Oshri Elmorich - who is simply known in the music world as Oshri, he is beaming with optimism. Now living in New York, he is back in Cape Town - a city he has called home since he was around 18 years old and is a little reluctant to leave.
“I’m sad that the vacation is over,” the singer who is now in his late 20s, laments. “When I was a kid, I started singing to the cartoons. I used to write a few lyrics to the cartoon melodies. I moved to Cape Town following freedom first.
"I had a friend here and I visited her and then, when I was here, I met a girl. I fell in love with this country first and I decided why not just stay and build a new life here?”
That girl recently got married but Oshri says:“I am grateful and I have now brought a lot of friends to see this place. I am definitely emotionally attached to South Africa”.
It was while living in Mzansi that Oshri tried out for a talent competition called Trace Music Stars which was sponsored by the television channel. During that competition (which he won), he encountered prolific producer and Fugees member, Wyclef Jean and Jean swiftly became Oshri’s mentor.
“Wyclef was my mentor during the show,” Oshri shares.
“And two weeks after I won, he brought me to New York. The biggest lesson I learnt from him was about making music and writing songs. I would actually also say that the lesson I learnt was not a lesson he gave me, but one I learnt after we stopped working together.”
“Wyclef was emotionally involved in my projects. He discovered me and brought me to New York, so it was a little sad when I left him. The big lesson for me was you should always stay and appreciate when someone can see you for who you are,” he continues.
Working with Akon was a natural progression, since Oshri now worked closely with Trace, and Akon was tasked with being the mentor for the second instalment of the channel’s competition.
“I’m not regretting it at all,” Oshri quickly explains. “All I am saying is when someone is invested in you emotionally, it’s important.”
Since signing to Akon’s Konvict Music imprint in 2015, Oshri has been releasing a slew of pop and dance hits. In fact, his ditty, Crazy But Free, actually made it into Billboard’s Top 40 Dance Chart.
Oshri says this song is about “having my way of doing things. I grew up in a village called Maor where some of my friends are already married and some have kids and they have found jobs.”
“I was always different and had an unconventional way of seeing things, where I want to go and what I want to do,” he says. “And I always had people trying to pull me back to the stereotype. Back to the box. I was fighting it. This song is basically saying I’m going to fight for what I believe. I am not going to let anyone stop me because that’s what makes me happy.”
The video sees him walk around Manhattan and he takes off an item of clothing at a time while dancing with passers-by. By the end of the video, his boxers are tossed into the air. It’s kind of like Erykah Badu’s Window Seat video without the nudity in that his message was bigger than just entertainment.
“I wanted people to see this video and feel freedom, confidence and promote who you really are and be comfortable in your own skin,” Oshri explains. “Being naked is the purest form of being free. To me, anyway.”
Oshri has also released Bad Reputation - which encourages a love interest to see for themselves instead of listening to rumours about him. Bad Reputation features our very own Jimmy Nevis. But there is also another version of the same song that features Israeli actress, Shiran Sendel.
“We have two big markets: South Africa and Israel,” Oshri explains.
“So we were like: ‘what would be the best way to introduce this song? I wanted to have a collaboration from those specific territories. I met Jimmy, we bonded and he agreed to do the song. I knew Shiran because we studied acting together - she’s a friend of mine. I actually want to do more versions of this song: a German version, an American version with Akon.”
Before his vacation in Cape Town is over, Oshri has been back in studio with Jimmy Nevis. “He’s like, oh my God, how do you say it...bromance,” Oshri laughs. “We met, we clicked and have become such good friends.”
Oshri’s newest single, Too Much, is about showing women that they don’t need validation from anyone else.
“The world has too much of superficiality,” he adds. “There’s too much surface and not enough depth. I’m guilty as much as other people are, but if people invested as much inside of them as they did in their appearance, then the world would be a better place.”