Our spring summer campaign is fronted by a group of diverse individuals who all stand for something, because at Dr. Martens we don’t just make shoes, we’re born out of innovation, creativity and a sprinkling of punk attitude. Whether in their career, a unique viewpoint or the art they create we want to showcase the authentic, everyday lives of the fascinating folk who wear Dr. Martens. Throughout the season we’ll be catching up with these individuals and finding out what makes them tick. In this instalment we talk to musician Oscar Lulu, frontman of up-and-coming indie band Sundara Karma about touring, using fashion to express yourself and being a good person.
Hi Oscar, can you give us a potted history of the band for those who might not know you yet?
Sure, the band started when we were all 13 or 14 years old. We’ve all been friends for years and grew up together. We started playing in various bands before we became Sundara Karma.
Where does the name come from?
Well we always wanted karma in it because it’s a wonderful word and means quite a lot, the other word we just picked out of a hat. Haha. No, Sundara means ‘beautiful’ in Sanskrit and it seemed to fit really well. So there you have it, Sundara Karma.
You grew up in Reading, did the presence of the Reading Festival have an impact on you as a kid?
I think I first went there aged 13, and it was definitely an eye-opener being so close to all that music and seeing bands you loved. You realise perhaps that’s something you could do.
Was it always music or did you have a back-up career choice?
I started so young, so I guess I was always going to be a musician. I’m very fortunate to have some level of success and to have been signed quite early on. To get to play around the world is gratifying and an amazing feeling. I try to keep hold of that excitement and gratitude.
Is travelling an aspect of being in a band that you like?
It’s great, it’s something you always hope for – to be able to see the world. And there aren’t that many professions that will take you around the world. So travelling and seeing new places is an aspect that I personally love.
Is there anything you don’t like about touring?
I live out of a suitcase, so I haven’t even got a flat at the moment – my stuff is at my parent’s house. There’s basically no point because I’m never at home. But that’s a small niggle, I’m doing what I love.
Which is easier, playing in front of a home crowd, like Reading, or somewhere far afield?
I can be nerve-wracking playing to people you know when you recognise faces in a crowd. Maybe it’s a primitive thing, about upsetting the tribe. But playing to friends of family there is more pressure. If it’s anonymous faces, it’s a bit more freeing. We’ll be playing Reading for the fourth time this year so that’ll be a mixture of the two.
Are you a person who prefers performing or being in the studio more?
I’m definitely more in to the writing and creating side of things. That’s my creative outlet. On the other hand, I do love the human connection when you perform – seeing the effect your music has on people in real time. It’s beautiful.
Who are your musical influences?
I’m quite impressionable so I’m inspired by everything, haha. If I like something – be it a piece of music, or art, or a place, then I’ll try and weave those influences into what I’m doing.
You’re known for your personal style and fashion choices. Is fashion something that’s important to you?
I try not to think too much about fashion, but my style… I think it comes out of ‘limitation’. Especially financial. When you don’t have much money it forces you to be creative in your fashion choices. I’ll hunt around in charity shops and random places. Limitations can make you more creative.
Do you remember your first pair of Doc’s?
Dr. Martens are something I’ve always been aware of. I was really young when I saw a photo of my mum wearing them. She used to be a punk. I like that they were the choice of footwear for subcultures and the fringe. I really like that you have a vegan range now, when big brands do things like that then it sends a good message. My vegan DM’s are my favourites.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into the music industry?
Be patient, realise that you don’t have to rush. And stick to your guns – if you know something’s not right in your heart, then don’t compromise.
And finally… what do you stand for?
Can I say ‘kindness’? I know it sounds corny but it’s a good thing to stand for.