The room was full of anticipation when Esther Moudy-Gummere’s set began at the Bishop. The first song built slowly as she recorded keyboard, bass, and drum loops into a pedal. Her voice was the last layer with heavy delay effects to create ethereal vocals.
This incarnation of her project is called Oscilla but she was playing shows in Bloomington as MIDOKI until a few months ago. She told us that the new name “feels more authentic,” during our interview on October 29.
Esther returned to Indiana nearly 7 years ago for college after spending the majority of her adolescent years in North Carolina. She studied film and video game production at Indiana University.
“I wasn’t a good student because I was doing lots of stuff and only one of them was school,” Esther said.
She tested a variety of “uncool” instruments growing up including violin, trombone and ultimately tuba which she played in the Marching 100. She also played in a rock band called Jude Brown during college, but it fell apart when she decided to focus on school to bring up her grades.
Since graduating, she has had more time to focus on projects she cares about.
“I’m pursuing the same things I was in school now but with a lot more autonomy and creative direction,” Esther said.
When Jess Mann started a project called Quiet Girl where new musicians had the chance to perform and record semi professionally, Esther took the opportunity to try it out. Although she didn’t see the outcome of the demo as a huge deal, her friends and roommates at the co-op where she was living encouraged her to write more.
“Enough people were like this is fun to listen to that I became less
closed off,” Esther said. “I think everybody’s inital impression of their material is that no one will like it, but then I started thinking who cares.”
With a new attitude towards music, she decided to take her project from the bedroom to the stage.
“I’ve had shows where I was really grateful nobody came,” Esther said.
Each performance is a learning experience as she faces technical difficulties and the challenge of lining up several loops perfectly.
Some parts of her songs are concrete while others change depending on the circumstances of the show. Hearing her music come to life through the PA.
“I don’t have a lot of great gear so whenever I play shows I think, woah this sounds cool when it’s coming out of a legit sound system,” Esther said.
Her interests in music and video games have a lot of overlap. She composes music for art games that she creates which follow narrative stories in make-believe lives. Instead of focusing on making the game complicated to play, she spends time on developing stories.
“They’re not very technical or advanced because I can’t actually operate video games that well and they stress me out,” Esther said.
For OSCILLA she writes lyrics through different characters perspectives.
In her daily life she tries to figure out where other people are coming from emotionally and when writing lyrics she fleshes out fictional mindsets.
Besides her handful of demos on soundcloud, OSCILLA’s first EP called OUCH is in the works. The tracks are about feelings “but in a noncommittal way” and about ficitonal dreams.
“I don’t remember my own dreams often so I’m always down to hear about other peoples,” Esther said.
She hopes to release OUCH on bandcamp or soundcloud by the end of 2017.